Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It really does not take much to win my heart. I wear it pinned on my sleeve. And where small helpless young things are concerned I probably have an overactive maternal instinct. Which, on the whole, has been a very good thing. I've raised hummingbirds and chimney swifts and phoebes and waxwings to name just a few, and two very very sweet children and sometimes I find myself daydreaming about baby knuckles with dimples instead of bumps and I know it's going to be a very long wait until Phoebe gives forth with a grandchild, but I can wait. I cherish the still-little parts of Phoebe and Liam, and I have a dog who looks like a baby, and life is very good.

My kids are getting to the age where they want pets, their OWN pets, something young and helpless they can care for, and that is a beautiful thing. Since we have the Dog to End All Dogs there are no puppies on the horizon. Liam talks about a bearded dragon and I think that's going to stay in the realm of talk. The $100 price tag on one is just the beginning of some expensive upkeep. And I dunno, lizards...we've met some very sweet ones but they're still a a little foreign and spiky, a little salmonellaey for me. We have a line on a hatchling box turtle who needs to be raised for release on our place, and it's been promised to Liam, so we'll go with that.

A while ago we met a Chinese dwarf hamster named Monster who belongs to Phoebe's cousins. I was never much for hamsters, not after my sister brought one home from the biolabs at William and Mary, and we named her Maggie, and long after she'd been in residence rocketing around her cage and throwing cedar shavings all over the place, long after she should have been the Virgin Maggie, she popped out some little red beanie babies, and proceeded to throw them against the bars of the cage and do other unspeakable things to them. She must've stored the sperm for a couple of months. It was upsetting to a nine year old who was trying to do everything right. So hamsters, ehhhh.

And then along came Monster. Monster is calm and quiet and very sweet and she doesn't bite unless your hands smell of food. She walks slowly over your hands and arms and doesn't make any sudden moves and she crawled into the crook of my arm and found a spot of sun and fell asleep on me and my heart melted clean away. So did Phoebe's. It had to do with being trusted utterly by a small helpless animal who should by all rights be afraid of me.

Right then and there I decided to try to find a Chinese dwarf hamster just like Monster for Phoebe, which proved to be harder than I thought. All the area pet stores have Russian dwarves which seem to be fast and nippy and rather nasty on the whole. I have yet to meet a pet store employee who likes them. There are regular Siberians like Maggie which I'm sure are fine, but they don't appeal to Phoebe.

Marietta doesn't have them, and Columbus doesn't have CDH's. So Phoebe went to Hoobly.com and found someone about three hours away from us, but still in Ohio, who breeds the durn things. She emailed the breeder and the breeder emailed back. Why, that's just how I met Jane, Chet's breeder! Last we heard, she was introducing a male and female CDH and lo and behold they liked each other and have been sleeping together. She said you can't tell the females are pregnant until three days before they give birth at which point they look like a furry ping pong ball. Oh, joy. So we're waiting. Maybe two, three months. It reminds me of waiting for Chet Baker to be born. I like the idea of getting a pet directly from a home breeder. It sure worked out well with Chet. I don't mind driving three hours for a good hamster. We drove eight hours to get Chet from Pups Will Travel.

I know what you're thinking. So: What about that Bacon? who is at this very moment standing with his pawdies on the edge of the kitchen table murpphing for his second bikkit of the night. Would a CDH just be another bikkit for him? Well, despite his insatiable appetite for chasing small furry rodents outdoors, The Bacon is a very good boy. He has spent a couple of hours with his jellybean nose pressed up against the bars of Monster's cage, mere inches from her, and has never tried anything. He just likes to look. He will not jump up to try to grab Monster while you're holding her and he knows in his bones that hurting her would be a bad, bad thing to do. It is probably the ultimate test of a Boston's self-restraint, but we think he's up to it. Needless to say her tank will be on a high shelf. And he will be behind closed doors when Monster goes walkabout. But we believe in The Bacon.


There's yer Chetfix. And for the hammie fans, a Hamfix. The first, but I hope not the last one.

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