As I mentioned in my earlier post, the kids (Annabelle, anyway) didn’t seem terribly impressed with the vehicle that Sparkles the Elf had chosen for her entrance this year. They weren’t unappreciative of the elf’s offerings, don’t get me wrong, but I think we all know that Sparkles has a pretty big reputation to live up to around our house.
When we awoke today, it seemed that Sparkles had hardly moved at all. She reclined languidly across the top of the hutch in the corner of the living room, laying right in front of the model of Venus that I Annabelle had made for her science class project last year. Her eyes appeared barely open, and she seemed sleepy and quiet.
I had the fleeting thought that maybe Annabelle was right. The elf was tired. Or past her prime. Or something.
Little did I know.
Sorry, I have to back up now seven or eight days to start this story properly. Bear with me.
The kids and I took a trip to California last week. We went to pick up a wonderful new horse that Annabelle has been given the privilege of riding for the next show season. That story and the trip in and of itself is a whole blog on its own. To be written, I promise.
Anyway, when we got back from the trip the kids were overjoyed to see their small house pets and play with them for the first time in several days. Since Annabelle was suffering from an ear infection and couldn’t go outside, they amused themselves with putting on a few animal competitions with the pets at hand, namely their two hamsters and a fluffy white guinea pig named Polly.
Somehow during the initial zeal of competition that Tuesday afternoon, the top of Batman’s hamster cage was left, shall we say, unsecured.
I’ll add here that Batman’s hamster is actually one of the few rodents that we have owned that l like. Her name is Snowball, I think, or maybe it’s Princess, but whatever, she is one of two of the several hamsters we’ve had that has never bitten anyone. I realize that’s not a terribly high standard of gentility, but hamsters are just not always the nicest creatures, in my experience. Snowball/Princess, whatever, (the kids actually call her Wamstey, some variation of Hamstey, which is, well, you get the picture) had actually gotten so tame that she would ride around on Batman’s shoulder, clinging no doubt in terror to his shirt or the skin underneath, but looking for all appearances like she was having a good time. I could even hold her.
She was a nice hamster.
On that Tuesday afternoon Wamstey escaped from her cage. Into the messy, disheveled maelstrom that is Batman’s room. I wasn’t feeling so swell myself at that time, having what I learned a few days later was strep throat, so finding the hamster wasn’t on the top of my priority list. In our two or three-year experience with small furry pets, we have lost several, and found them all. The longest gone had been Annabelle’s previous pet hamster Copper (the other hamster that never bit anyone) and he went missing for one whole day before being discovered in her underwear drawer, where he had chewed holes in a whole week’s worth of new Barbie underpants (they had Barbie on them, they didn’t belong to Barbie, FYI).
I kind of forgot about the missing rodent that day, and at some point the next day I asked the kids if they had found her. No, they answered, they had not. Even though Annabelle was really pretty sick, I made them both go into the room and empty out the toys and other rubble that was under the bed and look more carefully for Wamstey. No luck.
I remembered at this point the one time before that Wamstey had escaped. She had only been gone for about ten minutes that time when I walked into the dining room, the furthest room geographically in our little house from Batman’s centrally-located bedroom, on an unrelated errand. I heard some faint scratching in the corner. Wamstey had somehow traveled through the whole house unseen to arrive in record time at that far wall.
This might be a problem.
Another couple of days passed. Batman had the audacity to ask if we could please go to Petsmart and get another hamster since his obviously was not coming home. Absolutely not, I answered.
The kids got on YouTube, on the Hamster Channel (yes there is a Hamster Channel) and looked up how to find your lost pet hamster. That afternoon they removed the hamster cage (an aquarium, actually) from the dresser where it usually sits and placed it on the floor. They took some big books from Annabelle’s bookcase and made steps up the side of the aquarium and sprinkled hamster treats all around the floor and up the steps. It reminded me a lot of the bird/rabbit/squirrel traps that me and my siblings used to set in the yard featuring a cardboard box propped up by a stick and a long piece of string. I humored them, sure that the hamster was gone for good, or at least from that room for good.
Milo ate all the hamster treats approximately five minutes after the kids put them down.
That evening I voiced my concern to DH over the fate of the hamster. We have a couple of outside cats, barn cats more or less, that do come in the house on occasion. They had been inside non-stop since we had returned from California. While these cats do wear baby clothes and sometimes ride around in a stroller, they are stone-cold killers, and I regularly find dead offerings ranging from mice and birds to the occasional squirrel on our back porch. We also had Milo, the hyper and prey-driven mutt who would definitely devour any loose hamster in sight, as well as Maddie, who is old and deaf now but has killed more than one mouse or gopher in her time. The hamster may have met her demise right here within our walls!
DH dismissed my worries about our hamster prey animals, mostly. He correctly pointed out that if one of our hunters HAD assassinated the hamster we would have probably discovered evidence of some kind. Icky but true, I decided.
Last night when I was tucking Batman into bed I picked up the aquarium and sat it on the dresser where it belonged. I was tired of tripping over it when I put his clothes or toys away. My son screamed in outrage. “MOM!!! YOU CAN’T PUT THAT BACK UP THERE THE HAMSTER WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO REACH IT!!”
“The hamster’s not coming back, son. It’s been a week almost. She’s not even in this room anymore. I’m sure of it.” I said this gently. I did feel bad for him. “No, mom.” he said. “Sparkles is here now. She’ll use her magic to get the hamster back in her cage!” “OK,” I sighed, “we’ll give it one more night.” I sat the cage back on the floor and straightened the books. “NO MOM, the books have to stay like that. They are steps so Wamstey can get inside.” I rearranged the books and gave my delusional son a kiss goodnight. Then I walked back into the dining room as I had several times already, to see if I could see or hear the hamster.
This morning I looked up at Sparkles relaxing on the hutch. I was proud of her for moving during the night, since she was so tired and all. I made some coffee and watched a little of the 6 a.m. news, and went outside and fed the horses, bunny and cats. I filled up Winston’s heated water bucket on the back porch and poured him two cans of kibble. Then it was time to wake up Batman.
I walked into his room and glanced at the mess surrounding me. The room was in even more disarray than usual after being tossed several times in search of the missing Wamstey.
I glanced at the hamster cage on the floor as I walked by, thinking I was going to clean this whole mess up when the kids left for school.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear? Two beady eyes and white rounded ears.
The hamster was back in her cage.
I could not believe my eyes. There she sat, burrowed in the fresh bedding the kids had installed, washing her face contentedly. I laughed in delight and whooped and woke Batman. “Look!! LOOK who’s back!” Batman climbed out of bed and stretched, a big smile on his face.
“I told you mom. Sparkles is magic. She used her magic to get Wamstey back.”
When I got home from picking the kids up from school this afternoon Sparkles had moved from her perch on the hutch to the top of Wamstey’s cage. She appeared to be watching the hamster sleep happily in her fluffy blue bed.
The kids took this as proof positive that she had in fact found and returned Wamstey to her cage during the night.
I can’t say I disagree.