It was Saturday morning, and I hadn't heard our little dwarf hamster moving around in a while.
How's Chip doing? I asked the boys.
I don't see him. Oh, wait, there he is, Josh replied. Mom, I don't think he's moving.
Josh's voice started to get choked up as he realized our little rodent friend had passed on. He began to cry and Jason soon followed as he understood the gravity of the situation. We wrapped our arms around the boys to offer them comfort.
After a few minutes, we decided we should have a proper burial for the little critter. Josh went to his room to find a tiny white box, and Jason bravely wrapped little Chip in a paper towel and placed him inside. Then, still in our pajamas, we made our way out to the apricot tree, Patrick with shovel in hand. He dug a shallow little grave, the box was placed in the earth, and we all said how much we had enjoyed our pet. After we each put a handful of soil over the box and the hole was sealed, Josh ran across the driveway to find a smooth river rock to mark Chip's grave.
Knowing we all needed more comfort and closure, Patrick prayed and thanked God for the blessing we had had.
Chip was the third little "adoptee" animal we have taken in. We have a leopard gecko passed down from a friend. And then came our little Sophie pup. We knew when we took Chip in from another family, that he wouldn't have a lot of time, since hamsters don't live more than 2-3 years. He was already over a year old... so it was hard, but expected. We were thankful for the few months we had.
What wasn't expected was what happened this evening.
The same day Chip died, the boys wanted to get a new hamster, so we cleaned out and washed Chip's cage and headed to the pet store. We found a darling creamy-white, short-haired Syrian hamster, named him Henry, and promptly fell for him. Careful to help him adapt, we brought him some of his pet store bedding and gently played with him a few minutes each afternoon so that he'd get used to us. He was healthy and spry, and we all loved his cute personality.
This evening when we got him out of his nest, something was wrong. He wasn't inquisitive and alert. He curled up in my hand and closed his eyes. Maybe he was in a deep sleep and wasn't quite ready to play, I reasoned. Maybe he was in a "hamster trance." But that wasn't the case at all. Henry was terribly sick. I held him in a towel, keeping him warm and comfortable for the next hour and a half or so. Patrick tried to dose him some water with a little dropper, but it was too late. Before we even knew what was happening, he began gasping for air and then he died in my hands.
I am heartbroken. I don't know what went wrong. There were no signs or symptoms... it just all happened so quickly. We didn't even have a chance to have him seen by a vet. I felt so helpless, not knowing what to do for this poor animal who had quickly become part of our family.
So, as you can imagine, it has been a rough week. And there will be another burial and more tears in the morning.
Yes, life will most assuredly go on, but losing pets is never easy. Even when they're small.