Wednesday, December 6, 2006

My Hamster Dilemma

Oh boy... what a week, last week.

As if dealing with the impending death of my Booga and helping the kids cope with the same, and then her actually passing wasn't enough, we had a hamster mishap.

I should say that I had a hamster mishap.

I feed the hamster usually right before I head into the bedroom at night to read.  Monday night, it was about 11:30pm, after the news, and I put in 2 yogurt chips and freshened up his dish of food.

I hadn't been sleeping well worrying about Booga, and I was kind of foggy headed I guess, because I did something I had never done.  I left Tweak's cage unfastened.  Our hamster is actually named Lightning, but Hubby and I renamed him Tweak after a South Park character who drank too much coffee and was very hyper.  Such is our hamster.

We have a glass fish tank with a metal grate style topper that hooks on with metal clips and has a bungee fastner with a hook for the lid.  Normally, this contains said hamster very well.

Apparently, Tweak is strong enough to push the metal grate lid up, when it is left unlocked, and crawl out.  And, apparently, hamsters can survive a four foot fall out of a cage!

The next evening, Fuzzy noticed the cage was open and we joked about Tweak trying to escape.  After the kids were in bed, I mentioned it to hubby, who asked if I did actually check the hamster house to see if the hamster was in it sleeping.

As I went to do so, I realized his food had not been touched.  I got a lump in my throat as I confirmed, no hamster was in the cage.

So, let me re-cap.  This was Tuesday evening.  Everyone had been summoned to the hospital earlier in the day for Booga.  Her passing was going to be at any time.  I fully expected a call that night.  The kids had also been prepared for that, and were quite besides themselves.

And, now, their beloved hamster has been out of the cage for 24 hours, and I, their mother, was responsible for it, and the odds of Tweak being ripped apart by either one of the two cats was increasing exponentially by the hour.

I was a wreck.  Hubby said to relax and watch tv with him and something would come to mind. 

Of course, he shortly fell asleep and was no damn help. 

In desperation, my mind pounced on a memory from long ago.  I used to go with my friend Fred to his family's country home.  His grandfather used to catch and drown mice that got into their pantry by filling a tall bucket halfway with water and then rubbing peanut butter around the rim about 2 inches down on the bucket.  The mice would try to get to the peanut butter and would slip in and drown.

Yes, I was horrified as a kid by it.  Fred's grandpa even used to hide it from me so he didn't have to hear me cry on the weekends that I visited.

Ok, back to my dilemma.  I figured that I could use this evil method for good.  I took a large pot, placed Tweak's food in the center bottom.  Then, I smeared on the peanut butter.  I even made him a ramp to climb up to get to the edge of the pot. 

Off to bed I went.  The cats were sleeping and didn't seem to know anything.  I locked the dog (using our gates) out of the area so she wouldn't eat the hamster food and lick off the peanut butter.

I couldn't sleep.  So, I read.  I was so anxious, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting to hopefully, save the hamster.  I ran out and checked the bucket about 3 times before 2am when I finally fell asleep.

At 4:30 am, Pumpkin Muffin came downstairs crying.  She had a bad dream, and then she started to think about Booga.  I steered her clear of the family room, comforted her, and settled her in with her dad on the day bed in our spare room, adjacentto our bedroom.

After Pumpkin was settled down, I found an alarming site.  Our cat Tina, sitting in the family room, staring under the entertainment center.  I tried not to over react and headed back to bed.

Then, I heard it.  Tina meowing and making scratching noises!  I ran into the family room, relieved to find no dead hamster, only the cat trying in vain to get at it under the entertainment center.

So, now what?  My heart was pounding and sleep was not going to come, and I had to keep the cat from killing the pet hamster.  So, I cleaned up my ingenious bucket/food trap, and let the dog back in.  Libby chased the cat away.  I stayed up and watched a movie with the dog.  I can't remember which one.

I knew that the hamster would probably settle down somewhere to sleep for the day, so, crisis temporarily averted.  For as long as I could keep our two wonderful mouser cats away from it.  I needed a whole lot of luck.  My cats have each killed their fair share of mice, and they slice them up nastily, but don't eat them.  Talk about scarring my kids for life!  I'll be guiltily paying therapy bills forever.

Booga passed in the afternoon, about 3pm.  The afternoon and evening went by in a blur of crying, and consoling, and sadness. 

Meanwhile, the panic was building within me!  A dead or missing hamster, if discovered, was going to put this whole family over the brink!  I prayed to Booga to intervene if she could, and please let me find this hamster!

Just before bed time for the kids, the dog became very interested in the loveseat in the family room.  She kept sniffing around it, and trying to stick her nose and head behind it.  I took it as a good sign that Tweak was still alive and hiding there.  However, I was also panicked that she was smelling a dead, bleeding, or injured hamster.

All I needed was for the kids to get to bed and settle down. 

I was also relieved that hopefully I wouldn't have to make Hubby move the entertainment center, which is a large, heavy, wood corner unit and screwed into the wall, which he basically said he was NOT going to move, hamster or no.  Ha.

Hubby does the bedtime routine, and finally about 9:30pm, because it was Boy Scout meeting night, all the kids were settled into beds and quiet.

I was fit to be tied and very distressed, by everything.  I was like an over wound watch spring, just waiting to explode.  I told Hubby in a hushed whisper to lift the loveseat to one side as high as he could, and hopefully we would find Tweak unharmed. 

I got down on my knees, and as he went to lift it, I was never so full of dread...

And then, there he was!  Tweak!  Alive and trying to run away from us!  I never moved so fast in my life as I threw myself down and grabbed the hamster! 

Yes!  I deposited Tweak swiftly into the cage, slammed it shut and locked it.  I could swear that Tweak looked as relieved as I was!

However, at that moment, I was hit by such a wave of relief, that I melted into absolute hysterics.  You know, the kind of crying that you feel like you are going to hyperventilate and pass out?  Yeah, that was it, I couldn't stop for about 20 minutes.  But, thank goodness, and thank Booga, no additional trauma for the kids.

And, Tweak was just fine.  Apparently just a bit dehydrated, judging from the fact that he sat at his water bottle and drank about every 10 seconds for the next 2 hours.  Then, he ate.  A lot. 

I can laugh about the absurdity of it all now, but during the whole experience, and just after, I was not finding it amusing in the least.

But, perspective changes...and you only come by this way once, so you just have to laugh.

be well,

ps... let me assure you... laughing hysterically is okay, I am now!


thebaabee said...

I am so glad that Tweak's adventure ended with him safe and sound back in his cage.  Our Snuggie's adventure was not so sweet.  He escaped from his cage (a bird cage that we put him in after the habitrail started to disgust me) and in the morning I was woken by my daughter with dead hamster in her hand asking is this Snuggies?  Ginger, our dog, hated Snuggies.  I suspect because she was big and he was small.  Who knows?  All I know is that there in my 6 year old daughter's hand was Snuggies with all four legs up in the air, dead as a door nail.  Oh, the trauma.  But, alas, it didn't scar her.

Hugs, Lu

coelha said...

Whew...  Talk about stress!!  I'm so glad your hamster dilemna is over!  I can only imagine how that must of felt.  I'm glad you were able to release all that tension--you probably weren't able to grieve for Booga properly until you caught that hamster!  Julie

rilmich said...

Boy what an ordeal!!!  Now hopefully you can relax! You deserve it!!

psychfun said...

OMG I laughed so hard with the line that the hubby was going to "think about it" and fell typical I tell you! I'm telling you this is why we need a female president! HA! I'm so glad you found Tweak safe & sound! I love Tweak on that show too.

eml625 said...

Omg - what a story !Thank God Tweak was ok...
I hope you have an uneventful weekend ahead !

tenyearnap said...

This is such a terrifying and heartbreaking why can't I stop laughing? Maybe the mental picture of you throwing yourself on a hamster? Maybe the peanut butter baited pot with the hamster ladder going up the side? Having to let in the dog to chase the cats away from chasing the hamster? Maybe your husband declining to get a hernia moving the entertainment center? And, of course, "We'll think of something, honey...SNORE."

I'll bet Mr. Tweak was so relieved that he'll never want to leave that cage again.

cherry2sweet2eat said...

well atleast tweak made it out alive. I remember a while back when i had 4 gerbals the cat killed 2 then i put them in my room with a a lid. My brother brought an iguana in instead of buyin his own lid he took mine and put a game box on top of the cage my old cat greedy came in my mom room while i was watching tv with her and i seen something black when i flipped on the lights i freaked and i beat the crap out of him with the pole that slides in the window shade i was so hurt i luved penny to death. Then the other just died i think it died from heat exhaustion in the summer..

dornbrau said...

Over the years I have lost many a nights sleep while looking for run away hamsters.   Dickidoo would help, grudgingly.  He would pretend to dislike the little rodents, but when he thought nobody was looking, he'd get the big female named Zena and play with her until she'd fall asleep on his chest.
Glad Tweak made it back to his home safely.

sdoscher458 said...

Oh I'm so glad that you found her.  It is sad for kids to loose a pet that way. Boy like you didnt have enough going on....Sandi

helmswondermom said...

That was a funny story, and I was laughing along with you, but I was also feeling your stress!  You really didn't need that on top of everything else.  I am so very sorry for your family's loss, but so glad you found the hamster.

klconard1 said...

(((((((((Dawn and Tweak)))))))))  Bless your heart dear, you are a born storyteller lol!  I celebrate with you for Tweak's safe retrieval!
Just sign me
A fellow mom who spent many many anxious moments locating lost hamsters, snakes, mice, birds, cats, etc in many hard-to-find spots.
loving you

lindaggeorge said...

What a nightmare! Reminds me of the time we were at my friend's house for dinner and her husband accidentally let out the hamster who then ran through their open fireplace UNDER the burning log basket. Amazingly it survived and his feet were only slightly singed. I don't think husband got off so lightly, she still wasn't talking to him the next day!


lurkynat said...

wow! you had me going there Dawn! sheesh! hugs, natalie

erarein63 said...

Oh wow, what an adventure.  Makes me glad no animals here.  We've had our fair share of attempts at pets but no luck.  Maybe some day.  You know, that kind of laughter helped you feel better about everything, I'm sure. ;) De

rainbowmoonbeam2 said...

I am so glad you found Tweak alive and well! I would have been worried sick because I'm that way. I know what you mean about crying hysterically, that's how I was when we found out Bit's bladder issue couldn't be fixed.

Love ya,

cacklinrosie101 said...

Uh, hamsters...we had Peaches a good while ago before we had cats.  Grizzly would put Peaches in his mouth and run around with him and Becky would cry.  Peaches was kept firmly locked as I'm phobic about critters that look like mice.  They are pretty good at hiding.  Glad Tweak was found safe and sound.  I might have a phobia with them but surely don't wish any harm upon them.  You surely had to say a prayer of thanks for this...HUGS  Chris

bhbner2him said...

Awe, bless you!  As worried as you were over Tweak, perhaps his escape was a good diversion from other worries at a critical time.  Popping in from CarnivAOL.  - Barbara

rebuketheworld said...

How bad am I, but that has got to be the funniest story I have read all the same time, the suspence..I was feelin for yah the whole time....I am so glad you found the being on alert for all of that time, girl I would have fell out crying too...Loved how you told this true to life day....-Raven

h0llyk911 said...

I can't believe you found Tweak!  
You should quit your day job and become a professional hampster wrangler!

caromarls said...

Oh how I can relate to your story!  We had 2 hamsters a couple of years ago and I reckon they are he best escape artists.  They must have escaped at least 10 times in the couple of months we had them.  Ours did not have a happy ending though. We found the one outside in a bucket of water and the other disappeared into the woods (we think).  I am so glad you found yours.  I does, though, make for a really funny story!  Thanks for sharing!  Hugs, Caroline

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Angie Fox said...

That is great. So glad Tweak made it back (I love that name, by the way). Here's hoping we have the same luck with Molly.