Death stinks! In my lifetime, I don’t ever remember having to deal with the death of a family pet. According to my parent’s, our little hamsters and birds just mysteriously disappeared or flew away. And as an adult, I seem to think there’s more to the story where foul play was involved. Now, as a parent, I’ve recently had to react to our own family pet death. But I wasn’t at home this time to make things mysteriously disappear or runaway.
Many of our family pets are caged, but tame enough to come out for a romp or two to keep life from getting boring. I personally feel that this simple fact helps the pet live longer than its predetermined life expectancy. Recently, we considered a new role of responsibility by getting our daughter her first pet hamster. The hamster and his cozy cage actually fit very nicely and comfortably into my daughter’s open closet area away from the cold drafty window.
The Blessings of Having and Caring for a Pet
We were very lucky because this angel ended up being super tame, cuddly and loving. My daughter gracefully took on the responsibility of letting us know when the hamster, Sweetie Pie, needed more food and water. We could even trust her to take her out of the cage unsupervised for intermittent play through the late afternoon and evening. It was really a sight to behold.
When Things Just Didn’t Seem Quite Right
Sweetie Pie wasn’t discovered until after my daughter got home from school the next day. She went to the cage as always, and she peered through the cage bars to notice her sleeping curled up (in a disfigured kind of way) in a different than normal spot in her cage. I can only assume that at this point my daughter, as always, went into the cage to awaken the sleeping beauty only to realize that Sweetie Pie no longer responded to my daughter’s gentle touch. From the time my daughter got home from school to when I return from work was a 60-minute gap. When I finally arrived home, one of the first things I did was check-in with my daughter to see how school went and find out how she’s doing overall.
The first words out of her mouth, “Mom, I need to tell you something about Sweetie Pie, and we shouldn’t tell Daddy!” She continued to tell me that Sweetie Pie didn’t wake up when she tried to play with it. Uh oh!
“Sweetie Pie’s dead, right Mom?”
How unfortunate that my child had to go through this first experience with death! After we ceremoniously wrapped her up, my daughter was a complete wreck for at least an hour. Instead of being insensitive and telling her to get over it, I thought it would be a good time for her to get in a good cry. Although it breaks my heart to see her crying so violently, I took this as an opportunity to cuddle and hug upon my lap, reassuring her that it was absolutely, 100 percent okay to be sad and cry when a friend we love goes to heaven. At this point, she was only 7, and she will have plenty of time to figure out the evils and hellish ways of the world.
After this whole traumatizing experience, we made the classic parenting mistake and got another hamster (short-hair) to replace our dear Sweetie Pie. That was a huge mistake! The poor short-hair died two days later not making it out of the adjustment phase that happens from store to home. Small pets will be on-hold for the time being. Thankfully, my daughter wasn’t too broke up about the replacement hamster, Boris!