Saturday, August 16, 2008

Adeus, Hamster

Today I succeeded in giving away the hamster.

I think of all of us who lived with the little fellow, I was the one who was most bummed out to see him go. Certainly far more than Ruan, his nominal owner. Ruan stopped paying attention to the thing a long time ago. I think Lucas will get upset about it once he realizes that its trip to the 'pet store' was one way, as he's taken a recent interest in the hamster, or at least the idea of it. He keeps telling me he's a hamster and then pretends he's going to run under the couch, at which point I grab him around the waist to prevent him from doing so. Evani will not miss the hamster at all, as she was the one who had the most interaction with it, smelling its stinky cage whenever she went outside to smoke cigarettes. She called it 'the rat.'

I decided to give the hamster, who never even got a name, after one too many times of finding its food dish empty. It arrived in the middle of Carnaval, in a cardboard box originally containing rat poison, and I let Ruan keep it in the hopes that he would 'learn some responsibility' from it, naive fool that I am. That experiment failed utterly.

I liked the little fellow, and didn't mind taking it out of its cage from time to time and feeding it, but the truth was that I wasn't all that interested in it either and started to forget to feed him too. A couple times I caught him peering at us with unusual intensity as Evani was smoking, only to realize that he was trying to say that the food had run out some time ago and would we feed him please.

Things might have turned out differently if Evani had not insisted that he not be allowed to live inside the house. Her nose is exceptionally sensitive and she was not willing to accommodate the smell within the house. She barely tolerates my smell. That's why we only have fish. I often remark on the irony of this because apparently she was raised with lots of animals- dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, even pigs at one point (not all in the house though). Her mother loved animals. Evani's not having it. Doesn't jibe with her ultra-clean nature. So I hammered some nails into the grout between some tiles and hung the hamster's little cage under the stairs in our 'service area' off of the kitchen. I find it amazing she put up with it as long as she did, as she kept threatening to veto its existence.

I'm just now looking at the Wikipedia article on hamsters to see if I was right that the poor guy must have been terribly lonely, which was the main reason I gave it away. Now I'm thinking I should have read it earlier, because it's telling me that Syrian hamsters are solitary and 'will fight to the death if put together,' which clearly runs counter to my theory. Oh well. I have no idea what species it was (apparently there are 18), and even if it is solitary, it was getting neglected. And it wasn't teaching Ruan anything about responsibility.

I tried to give the thing away earlier this week, which is part of why I feel badly about the whole deal. I arranged with the owner of the 'pet store' here in the largo to find a new home for it, which he did. He told me to come meet the woman at noon on Monday. I brought the hamster with me at the appointed time, in a paper bag which attracted quite a bit of attention. Not the cage, it's quite common to see men walking around with cages here, although they generally contain birds. Paper bags, however, are completely alien.

The woman wasn't there, and I left the hamster at the 'pet store' while I went and ran some errands. When she didn't show up half an hour later, I looked into the bag to see the poor hamster so abjectly terrified that he was hanging, suspended in the air, from his jaw as he tried to chew his way out through the wire bars. I felt so badly I left my phone number with the owner and took him back to his spot under the stairs.

Yesterday the woman called me, and despite my attempts to explain to her that I didn't want to leave the hamster at the 'pet store' in order not to traumatize him, that's exactly what she wanted me to do. So I did. Presumably terrified once again, I didn't go back to check. I hope she didn't take too long to pick him up, and that he's now in a happier, more stimulating environment. If indeed that's what he really wanted.

Argh. I'm such a freakin' softie. I'd really love to have a dog, or a cat, if it would be allowed to live in the house with us, but as I mentioned previously that's not an option. And we have no yard.

Why, you are asking yourself, if indeed you have gotten this far, do you keep calling it the 'pet store?' I'll tell you. It's a place you can go to buy animals, but it's not what you would call a pet store according to any preconceived middle-class mainstream American definition with the cute puppies in the window. It's like a hole, a shaft drilled into the building that houses it, completely dark except for a single lightbulb and entirely lined with cages filled mostly with birds. They have everything from a couple ducks out front to dozens of little songbirds, most likely culled from the vestiges of forest around the city. There are people who 'make a living' by trapping birds and selling them. Ruan's father is one of them, worthless fuck that he is. The decor, aside from the birds, ranges from dark gray to black, with the occasional white flash of guano. A place like that in the States would be shut down in a day, at least in any place I've ever lived.

Interestingly, they used the 'pet store' in an odd commercial or PSA or something that ran on TV a while ago. It was quite cool, actually. It showed two guys washing windshields at a stoplight, also close to my house. When they get enough esmola (change) together, they go and buy a couple birds and some fish at the 'pet store' (where they don't actually sell fish). Next, they carry the animals to the beach, and release them. That was it.

Goodbye, hamster. I hope they give you a name at your new home.


A.L.R. said...

The first hamster I let go was named checkers. He was my first pet, and I was horrified when I awoke one morning only to find the love of my life snuffed out like a fart in the wind. I built a wood cross for him and buried the him in the back yard.

Really man, it's better this way. Spare your family the heartache and give them away while they're still breathing...sniff...sniff.

AkuTyger said...

I love my cats. I love them so much I dragged them down here with me. My husband loves them too, but he is waiting for them to die. Brasilians are too clean for animals to live in the house.

markuza said...

ALR- I had three gerbils, and the same thing happened, but they all died at once. I still don't know what happened. Problem was with our hamster that he wasn't the love of anyone's life.

Akutyger- that comment got a hearty laugh. Your poor hubby. I hope he's not allergic.

Anonymous said...

Kuza, so sorry about the hamster!