Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Little "Pet" Shop of Horrors

Just in time for halloween comes spooky stories of doomed pets.

One morning just two short weeks ago, I dragged myself out of bed and sat on the sofa staring into space. For me, this is just the magic of waking up. As the coffee maker began to gurgle and spurt, I reached wearily for my paper. But what to my wondering eyes should appear? Do my eyes deceive me, or did I just see a small creepy shadow darting to and fro? It had been years since I had seen a rodent in my home, but the movement was unmistakable. Did I mention that I am deathly afraid of rats and mice? Forget the coffee, I was awake on pure adrenaline alone. So, I did what any self-respecting fraidy cat would do. I let out a half-ass scream,and jumped to a safe the nearest elevated surface. My heart was pounding and my hands shook at the sheer horror of the situation.

Growing up, I always wanted a dog of my own, that's why my mother got me hamsters. Occasionally, they would break out of their orange and plastic containers with tubes leading to nowhere, and seek out new adventures in the house. The first hamster, and oddly enough the only one to die of natural causes, was named Moses.
Moses, was our most beloved hamster and had pretty brown and white markings.
He seemed to love to be smothered so having kids around was the ideal situation. Just over two years later Moses was enjoying his golden years, when he was struck down with what the vet called a stroke. His funeral was heartbreaking for myself and my siblings. I can still picture his "coffin", an old shoebox from a pair of beloved Florsheims purchased 10 years earlier. In our grief, my mother took us to Petland for our next victim, I mean pet. I picked an albino, teddy bear hamster. He was appropriately named, Popcorn. I loved Popcorn, but his affections were not returned. Each night, like the mentally deranged hamster that he was, he would climb to the top of his cage and drop 3ft or the equivalent of jumping out of your second story window. This would continue round the clock and into the wee hours of the morning!
Later I was told, that albino animals tend to go insane. This information would have been helpful at the time of our purchase. He also was the most aggressive, and bit the shit out of me on several occasions. I had to quit telling my mom about his attacks to avoid being dragged to the family MD for yet ANOTHER tetnis shot. His fate was sealed when one night, in an attempt to free himself from the confines of his human captors, he tried squeezing through the bars of his cage. My sister found him the next morning, while I was at a sleepover.

My next pet, Muffin was a gentle soul with long fluffy hair and unique markings. In his desperation to be free, he ate away at the bottom of his cage and ingested metal shavings which caused him to bloat to the size of a water balloon. After giving him tums and Altoids he succumbed to his fate the following morning.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking of those stories was the tale of Sniffles.
Sniffles, met his fate one unbearably hot Florida afternoon in the summer of '83'. We had decided to go sightseeing for the day, and upon my Grandmother's assurance that he would be ok, we left him on the front seat of our 81 Chevy pickup. Well, you guessed it, we returned too late from our day trip. Sniffles had literally "fried" to the bottom of the cage like a tater tot.

Funny to think that their deaths brought much more laughter than their lives.
It's been over 24 years since I have owned a rodent as a pet. And it's been more than a week, since I have seen hide nor hair of our uninvited house guest. Maybe it's time to pull up the traps and put down cages!

Happy Halloween Everybody!