Rhino would join T in late night exercise. T on his stationary bike in the hobby room, and Rhino in his well-used wheel of pee stains. We liked watching Rhino stuff food into his cheeks for long periods of time only to expel them later and hide them in his wooden shelter. He was a true believer in food storage. A good example to us all. His toys included a hamster ball to roll around in, two shelters, and of course, the pee-wheel. Sometimes we'd have to move the wheel into the center of the cage at night so that Big Boy (who has an adjacent room), could sleep better. The noise could get loud if it was too close to the side of his cage. We were just contemplating a ramped up cool-looking cage for Rhino when he up and bit the dust. He had no cool tubes to run through or crow's nest to hide out in, just a boring glass aquarium. It made my son sensitive I think. He had hamster cage envy. Middle Boy and I had discussed shopping online for something better because the local pet store had limited options and the employees had opinions about dwarf hamsters sliding through the slots of the metal cages that didn't sit well with my son, (or me for a whole other set of reasons).
Rhino's passing was a surprise to us all since he had been running in his wheel just hours before he fell ill. In fact I think that wheel may have taken part in his demise. He seemed possessed by that wheel! Here it was 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday and when he should have been resting up, he was awake partying in his wheel. Hamsters are nocturnal so 4:30 was way past his bedtime. Or way too early for him to be up depending on how you look at it. Still- he couldn't resist the temptation of the wheel. He probably forgot to hydrate well after his run in the wheel. Maybe he got low blood sugar due to not eating enough. He had food in his cage, but perhaps he didn't think to eat due to his wheel obsession. Don't laugh, my sister is a almost a vet and that was her suggestion, low blood sugar.
We took my almost-vet sister's advise, and we placed the cold, hardly moving Rhino on a hot water bottle. We forced fluids and encouraged ingestion of Karo syrup. We got out our heat lamp and placed it over him. We felt bad about the bright light in his eyes so sweet Big Girl came down with a paper party umbrella (in yellow as she thought he'd like that color best.... I didn't understand her yellow suggestion now but perhaps she meant it as a reminder of his yellow-stained wheel. She really is my most thoughtful child). After breaking off the sharp end (for safety!) we placed the party decoration over his eyes. We were all shocked when he actually started breathing better and moving around a bit more. I had thought once he started to turn cold that it was time to start singing "circle of life" from Lion King. But now we had some hope! I found it sweet how our family pulled together during this stressful time for Middle Boy. My oldest texted a friend to request a prayer and got out his violin and played something soothing for our pet. He placed a piece of food nearby in case Rhino was too tired to search for it and he even thought to move the water dispenser within an inch of the rodent. Perhaps Big Boy is a close contender for most thoughtful child (MTC). Alas, when Middle Boy got up with his alarm at 2:00am for another force feeding of Karo syrup, he found only the remains remained. He was buried on a Sunday without ceremony in the backyard while I napped. Maybe I should have been more thoughtful. I hope this post will help reflect my true feelings. Here are my feelings... He was a beloved pet to my son and the joy he brought will be missed, but death is a part of life and I am grateful for the lesson that his death brought. But I won't miss seeing the poo he peppered his cage with or the yellow wheel. And I won't be rushing right out for another hamster anytime too soon. Word to the wise: Pets defecate and someone has to clean it up. Maybe I will just tell the kids that the memory of Rhino is just too fresh and I can't really move on to get a new hamster. How long will that last I wonder? On the other hand, just look at that face!
|Not Rhino, but a very close likeness|