The Day After.

Today was a less dark day. When I say dark – death hovers over me like a ghost. I don’t believe in actual ghosts as an independent spiritual entity that follows one about but more like a mood that feels outside of yourself. Hovering behind your shoulder. Some mood you try to throw away from inside but it just follows you everywhere you go. Yeah, that feeling …was gone today. I only thought of Penny in memory of her antics and not how I last found her. That was a start.

I cleaned items yesterday and a few more today. Her damask print food bowl and her custom quilted hammocks today were hard because I looked at them and think – how could I put these in a future Syrian’s cage one day? They are Penny’s!

As much time passes I think I won’t feel so possessive on behalf of Penny. In fact I’m sure Penny could care less! Alive or gone. But still I have these thoughts!

Yesterday, was one of those days when I wasn’t sure if I would really say anything about her passing. But then I just did it. I was in a blur of mania yesterday. Pretty much I was trying to remain busy in the mind. Writing up and posting pictures and the status update on my Facebook and such – the responses here and there on FB were very, very helpful. Very comforting. Just knowing that people cared about me and also others that ALSO cared about Penny despite not having met her in person – was such a good warm fuzzy.

As of today all my other hams are healthy and happy. Acting like their normal selves. Bob is a WEE bit more withdrawn than usual but I think it’s because he no longer smells a female hamster nearby. He wasn’t nearly as active until I brought home Penny. Much of his energy I think was the maleness in him figuring out how to find his lady love. He must wonder why the scent is no longer there so abruptly. 😦

I have to fight off the temptation of bringing home a new Syrian. This is because at this time I am over capacity to begin with. With all these pets I realize I’ve over extended myself a bit. That I have plenty of hams left. So, there isn’t really a need to stretch my affections and time even more taut. And I would like to find a breeder. A legit one. I would like to try to veer away from Pet shop pets. I cannot help but believe her ill health is directly resulted from bad and inhumane breeding. This isn’t a promise. I might never find a breeder in my area that is educated on genetics and has pure blood lines they are working with. But it is something that being such I have more time on my hands ..that I have time to wait …I can begin looking out for that.

Also, I want a rabbit. And not building up my hamster population again would be smart because I want a lot of time to devote to a rabbit!

So, yes, a rush to fill the hole that Penny  left is something I fight. For all the logical reasons. And really, another hamster just to love is wonderful. But a hamster so quickly ONLY to replace her? That is a road to disappointment and regret. I could never replace her. She was too different and unique. Leaving big paw prints to fill.

My blog will be taking a new direction for awhile I think. I have come here since yesterday with change on the mind. I made a few more tactful changes to what I have to say about some things on my pages. And saw this cute layout for Christmas. I immediately had to be festive and cheerful with the layout. But yes …some new direction would be prudent because her death has changed a bit of my view as a hammy mom. No longer the completely rose-tinted-glasses of a “new” hamster owner. I feel like I’ve gone through a rite of passage. Not the kid one – losing a hamster as a child and losing on as an adult for me are two different events. The change will be subtle.

For one I have been slowly but surely researching and planning ahead for a rabbit. I’m still in the “awwwww bunnies” mindset and not as serious as one needs to be to really be about to undertake rabbit-parenthood. I have awhile yet on that. I do not want to have a rabbit while we live in this small space and without a decent yard area to make an outdoor play pen (my bunny would be living inside of course but outdoor play area I feel is a MUST!) and such. But it would be nice to begin putting some focus on that a little here and there on this blog.

One day it will be “Hammy Happenings & Gerbilations …and it’s all just Rabbitacular!” …Hmm…too corny yes? I’ll have to think about that one too for awhile.

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Penny at Rainbow Bridge

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Penny at Rainbow Bridge Penny Lane is watching down from Rainbow Bridge. This was a picture I made to explain to my 4 year old what has happened to her. I keep looking at it. It’s my MOST favorite picture of Penny. It encompasses her completely. Her personality and beauty. She was always so robust and so full of personality. I will be thinking about her a lot for a long time. I am on and off feeling normal and distracting myself and being upbeat and then feeling dark and disturbed at other moments. There is a closure and yet a feeling of being haunted right now that makes it hard to be completely at peace.

The Christmas Ham, Penny Lane

I wanted a girl hamster. My local stores only carried males. I only had males. And my only two children are males. I only have one female pet, my elderly dog Chloe. I wanted to tip the scales in this home! When I was visiting my parents for the holidays I knew I would be heading to their Petsmart before we left to return to Maryland. I knew I’d bring with us a girl Syrian hamster.

So, on Christmas Day, it rained. It was absolutely dreary. Later in the evening there would be a gale. My husband and myself took the kids and we headed to Petsmart before the storm and because we knew it was open and we planned to leave early the very next day to return home. This was my Christmas gift to myself. I was SO excited I could hardly contain myself.

We arrived and the sale in the store had wiped the place out. It was unexpectedly busy. I made a straight line to the back where the hamsters were housed. I peered in an igloo for the Syrian hamster cage and I saw a lot of white. I was excited! I hadn’t gone in there with any colors in mind. Only that since I had a long hair I’d like to have a short hair. The container stated it was Short hair (But they were certainly incorrect! She was long haired!). An employee was right there and asked if I wanted to see them. I felt my voice catch!

He lifted the igloo and I saw 3 hamsters. ALL that was left for Syrians. They were all sleeping in a huddle on their backs. That was why I saw all white. When they stirred to life Penny was the first I saw. She was alert and ready to go. She was gorgeous – a sable banded, eye rings and all. She was the most vibrant and vivacious of them all. I didn’t hesitate. I don’t even think I noticed the other two sadly as that sounds. “That one,” I said.

As soon as she was in her temporary travel bin at my parents home she was full of life. A wheel of her OWN! (I had brought a spare wheel with us on the trip down as I had planned for her). And she backed right into her sand box and wee wee’d like she had been litter trained all her life. She was active and rambunctious and just so easy to fall in love with.

I never thought of hamsters as intelligent but she was. She was incredibly bright. It’s difficult to explain how I know this. But I did. Intelligence shined in her eyes.

And feline-like she would prance about and rubbed against things and us. I’m starting to lose steam here as I just get emotionally exhausted.

The most touching aspect of this ham’s spirit was the maternal spirit. Immediately she was drawn to and trusting of and affection to my children. She did not shy away from curious hands. Even my infant. She claimed them as her own. She crawled on them and rubbed against them and gave them kisses. She wiggled when I held her but she was still and patient when my 3-year-old at the time – would hold her.

She chirped happily to greet me. She was very vocal though until the end I never heard vocal for negatives. Until the very end she didn’t want to be touched and screeched quite a bit when I touched her. So, I gave her my gentle voice instead and touched her much less.

She was the bravest hamster I’ve ever had so far. The most spirited. The most rambunctious and outgoing. She was an acrobat and gymnast. She was robust and intelligent and a big eater. She could be destructive but never in any way that was unsafe or a real issue or that ever made me cross. And it wasn’t always. But she had the ability. Her strength and stamina could be revered.

As I am not sure how old hamsters are when they are for sell at Petsmart I could only guess. I guessed at the higher end and surmised she would have turned about a year old around now. That she would have been born sometime in November to be able to be sold by Christmas.

Of all the hamsters I looked most forward to decorating her cage for Christmas as she was my true Christmas ham. All the festive bedding I recently purchased was with her mostly in mind. She was the hamster I bought the cardboard climber Christmas tree for.

I just buried her in the flower bed right outside my  kitchen window. I can think of her every time I set my coffee pot. Or wash my dishes. It was a sunny spot so warm in the cold 20 degree weather we are having today. I placed her inside her magenta floral patterned tissue box. I placed lovely shimmering stones on top of her grave. It was a solitary gesture. I could have made this a life lesson for my now 4-year-old. But instead I decided to just have that moment for me and her.

You broke the mold Penny Lane. There will never be a hamster exactly like you. I never felt like you were MY hamster but instead that WE were YOUR people. Thank you for having us darling.

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Rant from my misery.

I tell you… I have joined all sorts of hamster forums and communities and the only one worth a damn so far has been Hamster Hideout. Even the Facebook groups it’s just “post a million photos of our cute hamsters” and let me bully you about your minimum space cage and I am human but let’s post a bunch of photos of myself in a rainbow colored suit because I am depressed and all of you seeing my pictures in a hamster community will make me feel tops.

BUT someone posts with concerns about their ill hamster and it’s ignored. It’s like high school in these communities. If you aren’t part of the “in” crowd you and your hamster aren’t worth a lick of salt.

Yes I am livid. And upset. My hamster is dying and my vet can do nothing but euthanize her. And I just wanted some encouragement and advice and suggestion (with some people owning over 20 hamsters and many having died from various illnesses you’d expect they had SOME feedback).

These people who are decidedly silent and I can not help but be surprised when I feel I’ve been emotionally supportive to them in the past.

I don’t say a lot when I am sad.

I watched my daddy die. My sister died. My favorite uncle died. When my cat Fiona died (after losing my Malti-poo Fonzie and never finding him again) and I found her dead it was before any really close family had ever died yet while as an adult. I was so depressed I didn’t shower for weeks. I had to go onto antidepressants to function. After that I have reacted to major deaths in a shutdown mode. Even human deaths.

I have two little boys who I have to be strong for so I especially have to keep most feelings inside to my self. It’s a dark place to deal with death. And just because someone doesn’t talk about it a lot doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings they are dealing with in their own way and couldn’t use some encouragement or sympathy. In this case for their hamster who is dying today but not quickly. She is breathing but not moving otherwise. Has been on fast decline since the vet visit. Making me suspect I never should have taken her there to begin with as it apparently sent over over edge stress wise and didn’t help her in the least.

I just cannot believe how selfish people are. People in these communities with their claims of being different and not being popular in school and having dealt with so much ill treatment by peers because they are homebodies… They go online and form cliques and become exactly the type of people they were bothered by.

Hamstercentral and SHuk and the rest are closed off and holier than thou. Pretty much should just be called “Post Your Hamster Pic Spam and then get the Hell Out”.

If you want any rise out of them just post a picture of a small cage. A big cage is all these people give a damn about. Post about your sick hamster that a vet can’t figure out what’s wrong with it and be ignored. Misplaced values anyone? It’s unreal.

Penny and illness

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So, I mentioned Penny had been acting strange. By yesterday she started really acting weird and looking weird. Today she was flopping over. We took her into the vet when the small animal vet was there and she seemed to perk up while there so he didn’t see her at her worst but based on what I described he prescribed antibiotics and probiotic supplements for her. Based on her behavior he can only assume it’s an inner ear infection. She has lost a lot of weight really quickly which can happen for many reasons but often when they are ill. She is however eating and drinking. But she seems to not be drinking as much as she should and was.

Pretty much I have given her her first dose of Batril and mixed her dose of probiotic and she really loves the probiotics stuff. It’s by Oxbow and it smells quite nice. I have it in a little plastic cup and she works on it often.

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I hope that it’s not something more serious but I didn’t want blood drawn and all that. She was screeching as he held her. As he checked her heart and eyes and mouth. She has screeched at me for touching her too much. The last thing I would want to do is stress her out more by blood work. If it’s cancer or something there is nothing they can do so it’s just not worth it to me personally to put her through all of that. He felt her gently and didn’t feel tumors or anything. I’d have to say he was respectful of me and her. He treated our time as just as valuable as a dog or cat. They have two small animal vets there at that location and I’ve seen both now. The other was with Bob when he fell and had a swollen inflamed jaw. Both are great. I will definitely feel comfortable with either one seeing my rodents while we live in this area.

Anyway, she has perked up since having her probiotic and I used a syringe to drop water into her mouth which she licked happily. Her balance issue is keeping her from being able to drink water even from the bowl of water I have out in her hospital bin containment.

I just keep putting a little fresh vegetable and fruit in there for her and organic babyfood that has a mix of chicken and vegetables (no onion or garlic flavoring). And just hope she continues to improve. She is my youngest hamster. She just turned a year old. So, when I began to worry she was dying I was really surprised as my older hamsters are fatter and more active than she has been for awhile.

October 2013 Cages of the Rodents of Hammy Happenings Tour!

Alrighty! October’s Cage Tours of all my rodent babies. And of course – pictures of my rodent babies! All of these pictures were taken today and tonight except the one of Bob. The picture I took of him tonight wasn’t so great. But I had taken the one I posted a few days or so ago and love it.

OKAY THEN! So!

Let’s start with Penny. Ladies First! She had been taking a nibble at her chews.

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Penny is in a Marchioro Kevin 82cm Cage. I purchased this cage for $119 at PetStore.com but it is also available at ThatPetPlace.com. It usually ranges between $119-$134. In the United States it’s one of the best sized cages you can get for any species of hamster but especially Syrian’s. It has 7mm bar spacing so ideal for as big as Syrians to as tiny as Mice and Chinese Hamsters.

Up Next! Bob having a moment beneath the toad stools

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Bob is in the Ware Luxury Rabbit Cage. It retails a bit over $100 bucks. I got mine used for $20. It has 1” bar spacing so it needs to be meshed for hamsters. This is an awesome cage. It has casters and opens from the top and a large front door. The tray slides out for easy cleaning and then slides back in. I wish I could find another just like this for Penny. The height is much less scary than the Mamble which I had her in before. It’s long and narrower so it takes up less space without sacrificing footprint.

Now Strawberry as he lounges in his space pod.

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Strawberry is my eldest hamster (I think!). He’s a hybrid Cambells/WW or “Russian” hamster. He has slowed down. Looks great. Healthy. Eating and such. But really not very active.  I have plenty for him to do now. And I love his “retirement” cage. A Grreat Choice Pet Home for Small Animals cage from Petsmart. It’s 24 inch long, 15 inch wide, 14 inch tall. Below the RSPCA guidelines for a dwarf hamster cage. It’s suitable for a retirement cage for a dwarf and honestly, it depends on the hamster. Strawberry has never liked large cages. I’ve tried. He has been really happy in here so far. I find it easier to interact with him and get him out and check on him in this too. And it’s easier to make a jungle gym for him in there. He loves to climb though I can tell he’s struggling with it nowadays. The high base is ACE for my little digger. He has epic tunnels going on around the entire cage.

 

Gabriel’s Turn! He likes to meditate and other business in his sand box.

gabriel sand gabriels cage collageMy Chinese hamster is also older. In fact he probably is older than Strawberry but I will never know. He is adopted with barely any known history. I’m his 3rd and final home! He is in the FOP Gabbia Tamburino Linera Natura – a hybrid of a tank and cage. I had hammocks and suspension ladder toys and the like going on in here and other cages I tried putting him in – he had no interest. Today I decided to leave the top grill off (the grid lid) because he cannot climb out. This gives me better view of him from above and I don’t have to meddle with lifting it up and putting it down (it’s loud because it needs a handle). Anyway, he prefers his environment low to the ground and with plenty of hideouts. He does like to climb driftwood and such. I go with a forest floor type of habitat for him.

Finally, for the hamsters –  the Roborovski’s Snow & Patch! Having their nightly sand bath.

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The Roborovski brothers were separated due to my ignorance. I began with them together when I brought both home from the shop. I had one wheel. Multiple platforms. One house. If you are to keep your robo’s social due keep in mind – no platforms. A home and toy for each. Two Robo’s = two wheels, two food bowls, two houses. Or some will say better to have no houses but instead numerous hide outs. By the time I realized my mistake it was too late. They were drawing blood. Snow reminds me of this whenever I see the sections taken from his ear by Patch’s past nips. So, I did a DIY cage out of a book shelf that a neighbor was throwing out. It was a dollhouse style bookshelf. I simply put vinyl tiles down for the floor. Contact paper along the walls. And made a partition that is removable for clean out. It’s also vinyl and is attached from the inside with heavy duty velcro. They cannot climb out. I forgot the measurements but it’s as long as Bob’s rabbit cage and a little narrower in width compared to his. It’s the most space they’ve ever had and it’s easy to clean and fun to and easy to watch them. They’ve never been happier!

Last but not least: My Gerbil’s Mercury and Lennon! Waiting patiently for their treat. They also give me kisses!

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My gerbils have sampled many a layout/aquarium. I had them originally in a tall 28 gallon. Then 20 long. Then a 110 qt Bin cage. And finally a 40 long. Then I DIY’d a topper to put on top. I change around their set up every time I clean out. I have large pieces of drift wood I trade out each time to keep it fresh. Various tunnels and bridges and such they bury down into the bedding. You can barely see the current drift wood I put in there. It was a smaller piece than usual. In the topper they have water bottles, a sand pot where they do all their business. A Gnawsome hut to chew on and they prefer to snack within with the treats I give them. The topper has 2 floors. Or two separate “lofts” where I put their food dish. Or just for a perch and look out. They are pretty spoiled methinks. They are worth it. My little daytime buddies!

And that is the October 2013 cage tour of the Rodent’s of Hammy Happenings!

Penny’s custom Hammocks and Cage Tour

So, as many of you have noticed I cannot get enough of Rittles N Bittles custom made quilted hammocks. Holly makes the most awesome, beautiful hammocks EVER. Seriously, wish I could afford for her to quilt me a queen sized comforter for my bed! Or my own quilted hammock to hang somewhere in the house. You have to also check out her PRECIOUS blog of her Rats and of her quilting projects and etc. Rittles and Bittles. GAH. I don’t know how I don’t have a mischief of Rats already in my home after following her blog for so long now.

Penny’s hammocks are a total honor for this little girl. As you all have come to see Penny is a wild and crazy girl. Sure, she’s slowing down and calmer with maturity. She’s a lady now. But no one will ever forget her youth. She was Lady Gaga of Syrian Hamsters! And so, she got her wild and crazy art deco like hammocks made. And they are amazing. In fact in person they are 10 times more beautiful and amazing. Sturdy! For my chewer – she made these thicker. There is fleece in the inside with the zebra fabric over it as an underside. This is something she doesn’t normally do but since Penny has a thing about fleece and digging (and I mean She really loves to dig the heck out of fleece) Holly came up with this idea. And so far she hasn’t been gnawing, digging, roughing up the hammocks at all. Not like those cheap hammocks I was getting from Amazon and such before. I’ve checked in on her already several times tonight and she’s always found on one of her two hammocks.

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I could flip the hammocks over and use just straight zebra pattern if I wanted. It’s tempting as I love zebra. But I just love the crazy pattern too much. The zebra underside is very noticeable as I have her cage on a shelf that is to my chest height. When I walk into the room I catch the underside of the hammocks with my eye.

Penny when she first checked out the hammock and gave her seal of approval by stretching comfortably within it.

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And an updated tour of her cage set up.  The log thing is an edible log from Walmart. It is a stool for her to get into her sand box (icecream container) and also she can go underneath it like a tunnel. Her igloo house is in the back corner behind the platforms.

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Can you find Penny in this picture below? She has two wooden platforms that are covered in contact paper. A Wodent Wheel and Flying Saucer both 12 ”. A hanging plastic tube and Space Pod (Sputnik in the UK) her two quilted hammocks, her woven grass hammock, And her wooden 3 tiered hearts platform I made her.

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And I have a few dangling toys. One of which isn’t pictured as I just put it in tonight. It’s the woodies flower garland that was in the Gerbil’s cage. They never bothered to play with it or chew it so it’s in Penny’s for her to play and chew or at least look cute hanging in there since they are pink and purple flowers. Matches.