By: Crissie Miller Kirby
Growing up, I loved animals so much that my grandfather, “Pop,” nicknamed me “Ellie Mae” after Ellie Mae Clampet on the Beverly Hillbillies, mainly because I always had some cat or dog with me everywhere I went around their farm. I loved looking at the baby pigs they raised and cherish memories of helping to feed calves from galvanized buckets. My Granny still tells of my particular love for my old tomcat, Snowball, who had a broken, crooked, tail, and always looked like a ragamuffin from numerous fights, his ears permanently folded over and pretty much hairless, but love that old cat, I did. I would try and save baby birds that had fallen from their nests, and, even a few times, successfully captured field mice in the chicken houses on the farm. I guess as long as it had feet of some kind, I loved it; hence, you realize quickly that I have no fondness in my heart for snakes. Give me a furry little four-legged creature and I’m a goner. Not good for a mother of boys. Not good at all.
I say that I’m a mommy to two wild, crazy, but precious little boys, but it’s not completely the truth. I’m also the human mommy to one dog and three cats, all of whom reside in the house for the most part. We’ve tried fish, snails, and frogs, with little success ~ I’m guessing it would be hard to survive being caught, played with, and then tossed back in to the tank. So, although I had a particular fondness for rodents in my younger days, my parents put their foot down on that one. Never had mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, or hamsters growing up. I guess, now, I’m making up for it. Pierce and his sweet polarizing blue eyes sweet talked me in to getting a hamster about two months ago. Then, since Pierce had one, well, Smith had to have one as well. So, we have added two dwarf Russian hamsters to the mix as well; Sassy and Stormy.
These hamsters are supposed to be sociable creatures. Well, maybe not. Sassy is a biter, but will gladly allow you to hold her with no problems once you actually get her in your hands. She will happily roll her little clear ball down the hall in an effort to torment the aforementioned cats; especially the youngest, Scarlett, who passes the majority of her days perched in one of three locations – behind, in front of, or on top of the hamster habitats – just waiting on what I have termed, her “hamster-burger.” Stormy is the younger of the two and isn’t quite as vicious as Sassy, but he moves freely and quickly, and is a little more difficult to catch from that aspect. But, once you have him, he gladly will crawl all over you with few cares in the world. For the most part, we have not had much craziness with these little creatures (unlike my Every Woman Blogger Cohort, Shannon Shull, who should be enticed, now, to share her family’s hamster tail, pun totally intended), until this past Sunday night. You know, luck doesn’t last forever, and at some point, it always runs out.
This past Sunday evening, I was multitasking, talking on the phone with my mother-in-law, putting away clothes, and hanging up clothes when I noticed that Sassy was standing on her back legs, scratching on the side of the habitat. Remember, I love animals and am a sucker for what I take to mean a desire to interact. So, I open the cage, get her out, and pet her for a few minutes. Then I open a different section of the cage, put her in, and go about my business, which includes a trip to the grocery store, getting the boys ready for bed, and spending some time with them. As we walk into their bedroom, I immediately notice something amiss ~ the hamster habitat is open and I see only 1 hamster, not two.
My first thought moves towards the cats and that Sassy has now become a late night snack. I try not to get worked up and scare the boys, but I’m frustrated with myself because I am 100% completely at fault. I search and see nothing that tells me that she could still be alive. I go to bed feeling pretty badly and sleep fitfully until 3 a.m. when I am awakened by a squeak and the cats chasing something. She’s alive, I know it! I grab a flashlight and catch a glimpse of her little eyes and nose peering out at me from the leg of the loveseat in my bedroom. I shoo the cats and dog from my bedroom and shut the door, thinking maybe I can trap her in my room and catch her. I lie on the loveseat thinking I might hear a squeak and the ordeal will end quickly. No such luck. I, again, sleep fitfully, oversleep and am late for work. At lunch, I go by my house and check to see if any of the food or cheese I left out before heading to work has been nibbled. Nothing. Doesn’t even appear to have been sniffed. UGH! I go back to work, feeling defeated by a hamster.
I get the same answers after work. We search for half an hour, to no avail, finding only a juice pouch that had been left out had been nibbled on. I leave the door shut and just forget about it, figuring I will deal more with the situation after the boys are safely in bed. Bedtime comes and after finally getting them settled down, I hear a noise in the hallway, a noise that sounds like a cat after something, something alive. I jump up and tip toe into the hallway where I am greeted by the sight of Scarlett with Sassy in her mouth, dangling by the scruff of her neck, much like a mother cat would do her kitten. Scarlett knows that this is forbidden territory and takes off into the den where I begin to close the gap on her, but she does a U-turn in the middle of the den, right over a stack of clothes and shoots straight into the playroom, which can aptly be compared to the 9th circle of hell, or the abyss. If it goes in, it may never come out of there! The last thing I need is for Sassy to be loose in that room!
I follow them in, running as fast as my short legs and nightgown will allow. Obviously, the cat has an advantage over me in that she’s smaller and can clear the amounts of junk piled in the room like a professional hurdler. Me, not so much. I hear the crunch of toys beneath my feet, but it’s on and I’m determined that I’m going to rescue the hamster. I corner the cat in the bottom basket of a rolling cart, but she’s dropped the hamster. Oh, hell! I see Sassy shoot quickly toward some stacking file crates and I, immediately, grab Scarlett’s tail in an effort to delay her if only by a second to give me a head start. I grab the hamster, expecting to see blood and death, but no, all I see is the largest pair of teeth I have ever seen in my life being flashed at me. She nips me once, twice, and tries a third time, but I hold on tight and carry her, triumphantly, into the boys’ bedroom where I turn on the light to try and rise them to see that I have won. I have conquered the enemy and saved Sassy from the evil clutches of Katie Scarlett Kirby. They don’t hear a thing and there is no acknowledgement from them at all that I have just saved their dear little pet.
I release Sassy into the habitat and make sure that is firmly locked. She walks to the food bowl, sniffs, picks up something and eats. A minute later she runs to the wheel and begins to run, around and around, and around. I’m guessing, like humans, that she’s got some extra adrenaline from the chase that she needs to burn off. I see Stormy waltz to the wheel and squeak at Sassy, much like a parent would do to berate an errant child. I leave her in peace and head off to deal with my own adrenaline rush ~ I open Facebook and play a few rounds of Bejeweled Blitz and Angry Birds and waste a little more time on Pinterest. Alas, I finally give up and snuggle into bed with my Kindle and try to make peace with Scarlett who is pretty peeved about “the one that got away.”