March 21, 2011

Ode to Rhino

Rhino was our dwarf hamster.  He was greyish, somewhat bitey, and he was Middle Boy's birthday gift.  He was with us for just 6 short months.  Like Forest Gump, he. Liked. Running. and he would run and run in his wheel not even stopping to pee.  His wheel often had caked on pee promoting 'better traction.' At least that is what our animal expert MP told us we should think of it as.  I never quite got used to that idea.  I would often tell Middle Boy to please clean that disgusting urine stain out of the wheel before we all threw up from looking at it.  He usually would obey in a timely matter, but it wouldn't be long before the mustard colored coating would appear again, creating stinky traction for Rhino and a gag reflex for all of us.

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 

7 comments:

Teachinfourth said...

Sorry for your recent loss. I had mice that I let go before they could die.

Kelly said...

Someone suggested mice to me. They are more hearty I heard. Mice would freak me out I think...

Janet said...

Kelly- Your blog made me smile, even tho I was sad for middle son! Don't do guinea pigs either...they live way long & don't always dies quickly! :P

Campbell Clan said...

Sorry to hear about your hamster. My oldest daughter had gerbils. Somehow we ended up with one for summer care and it didn't go back to school. The second one we got to keep the other one company. Woke up one morning and one had died. Showed no signs of being ill. He too liked the wheel, so we thought maybe he got his neck caught or something. The second fell ill a few weeks later, and I couldn't bear his suffering. I like a silly mom took him to the vet and asked if they could please put him out of his misery. The vet convinced me that he would live and gave me stuff to give him. He even told me he was running around in his cage in the back room. They brought him back out to me to take home and I asked why was he not up and running around. Needless to say the vet lied to me, so I took him to my best friends down the street and Mike put him out of his misery for us. Sad occasion, but I learned my lesson from that and we haven't had any gerbils since. Now we have had a snake and fish, but since the kids would not clean up after the snake, we learned no pets for us. The snake was donated to the elementary school science program before we left to Korea. Sorry for the long comment, but I enjoyed your story and wanted to share ours. Good luck on future pets. We miss you guys.

Tracy P. said...

That is NOT Rhino. Anyway, RIP, little buddy. Should I tell Madi or do you want to?

Eileen said...

I had hamsters, which is totally strange since I can't imagine now why I ever wanted a rodent for a pet. My first was actually bought from the pet store by the missionaries that were teaching my family in New York. Elder Cohen said it was a boy hamster, but on our move out to California, in the back of our station wagon, I said, "There's all these pink wiggly things in the cage with Fred!" Fred had 12 babies.

A cross country trip with 13 hamsters was interesting, especially when the cage spilled over at a rest stop.

Sorry for middle boy. I cried and cried when my hamsters died.

Laurel C. said...

Rest in peace, Rhino.