Goodbye, good hamster

Maximus Decimus Meridius, my mighty mite hamster extraordinaire, died today.

Grief at losing a pet is real, and it doesn’t matter how big or small that pet is, or how long they have been with you. I can’t even count how many hamsters I’ve lost over the past 25+ years. Almost ten, I think. A few only lived a few months; some held on for over two years. Sometimes I cleaned out the cage and toys and got another hamster right away. Sometimes I gave away all my hamster things, thinking that would be the last hamster… only to buy a new cage and supplies a year later in order to welcome a new little fluff ball. Sometimes I cried, like when one had to be euthanized. Today, I sat numb and heavy all day, then took ten minutes to myself to sit alone and gorge on Welch’s fruit snacks and peanut butter M&Ms. Yes, it helped.

I’m already searching for my next hamster – the SPCA currently has one available. Or maybe a hedgehog, though that would involve a greater monetary investment and different set-up. Whichever comes my way first, I suppose.

It doesn’t mean that I’m ready to move on. I felt a bond with Maximus, perhaps because of the effort I put into taming him and his hamsterific courage and death-defying feats. He was very tame and docile, never bit me or anyone else, and he was easy to handle. I was actually planning on offering introductory hamster care workshops for new hamster owners, particularly those interested in getting a hamster but weren’t sure what it all involved. Maximus was going to be my assistant.

He liked it when I dropped huge chunks of carrot and broccoli into his food dish, which he would industriously drag back into his coconut abode. Unsalted peanuts and huge organic Thompson raisins were another favourite treat. Those, he would gingerly take one by one from your fingers, stuffing them meticulously into his cheek pouches to indicate that he wanted more; when he had enough, he would just start immediately eating one.

My 3-year old keeps repeating “Maximus is dead. Maximus is dead.” She suggested we bury him… but we live in an apartment, and I doubt the landlord would appreciate having a little hamster grave in the yard outside.

I need to clean Maximus’s things. I don’t know if I’ll get to it tomorrow. Trash pick up is Monday, so it can wait until then.

Bye, Max. Thanks for everything.

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