losing a pet is never easy
I have a pet.
Had a pet I should say.
Give me a moment… it’s been a tough couple of days.
His name was GP. The initials stood for Guinea Pig. Which worked out great until a friend of mine told me he was a hamster.
I loved GP a lot.
A couple weeks back he started acting a little odd. He didn’t seem to have the same zip in his stride is the best I can describe it so I did what any responsible pet owner would do. I called a veterinarian. Turns out that hamsters are considered ‘exotic animals’ and a visit would cost a minimum of $60 instead a normal dog or cat visit of $35. Exotic? A fucking hamster? So that’s what I screamed at the snotty bitch on the phone.
“I said HAMSTER… not tiger or monkey! Did you hear me say Huacaya Alpaca? No I did not. I said hamster. For $60 I could go buy a half dozen new ones!”
She suggested I follow that train of thought and disconnected.
Who needs a vet when I have the internet right?
A few Googles later I am ass-deep in hamster knowledge. Turns out that hamsters only live a couple of years. I’ve had GP for at least a year so what I mistook for a case of hamster sniffles turns out to be just one of those ‘circle of life’ things. My little friend was only nearing the end.
Just like if he was a terminal patient or really old person I did what any humane caring human being would do. I decided not to let him suffer. It was just his time. I would let him slip his mortal coil without a prolonged fight.
And so, although it was a difficult decision, I cut off his food and water.
Brave little GP. After a few days I suspect he realized that his time was short because he suddenly got a burst of energy and spend his days and nights running up and back across his cage, I suspect had he had a cup he would have dragged it back and forth across the bars like the old prison movies, and squeaking every time he saw me. Obviously he was distraught at losing me as a friend because when I went to comfort him with a little nuzzle of the ol’ finger he lashed out and bit me.
It was his way of trying to help me let go.
“You know what they say about biting the hand that doesn’t feed you right?” I said to him as I backhanded him across his enclosure and into his wheel. That little bastard could really bite.
When I started this mission of mercy I had no idea it was going to be so hard. GP squealed and whined for what seemed the better part of a week. From the time I arrived home from work to the time I departed again in the morning that little guy was putting on a brave face for me. At times I would be forced to turn up the TV to drown him out.
Finally the pathetic little noises started to die down a bit and GP had slimmed down a few hamster sizes. His eyes had both crusted over and his coordination was for shit. He would hear me approach his cage and he’s slowly crash around like he was drunk, hitting his little head on everything he approached. Even his teeth couldn’t break my skin as I’d hold him in my hands and he would gently try to bite me.
It was time to do the right thing.
I placed him on a towel.
I kissed his head and folded the towel over it.
I took off my boot.
Holding the heavy boot in my hand I brought my arm all the way back behind my head and then down as hard as I could where I thought his head would be.
It was finally over for my hamster buddy.
His suffering, and mine, was at an end.
Or so I thought.
Only when I started to lift the top of the towel off his body I saw that he was still breathing!
I was so sure I had hit him flush on the noggin… how could I have missed?
I pulled the rest of the towel off and found that I hadn’t.
There’s this guy I saw on a Youtube video that can pop out his eyes. They both just pop out and hang their outside of his head. Imagine that same guy if he was a hamster.
That was GP. The fucking warrior was still alive but both his eyeballs had popped out. Tiny black balls sitting on top of his crusty sockets. No blood. Just his eyes popped out and his little chest moving up and down irregularly.
Merciful Jesus what had I done?
GP was still alive and I was late for work. I couldn’t leave him there. That would be cruel. So I quickly wrapped him up in the towel and brought him with me.
I’m a mailman so I thought he could just ride along with me until he expires so that when the time comes I could be there for him. Even a hamster doesn’t want to go to the great beyond without someone shotgun.
Obviously I couldn’t put him anywhere where he’d be seen, I’m sure there are a bunch of rules and regs about driving around with pets, so I tucked him near the back between some sacks of mail content that I would check on him at the end of every subdivision I work.
In retrospect I see now why people always put animals in boxes. I’m not sure if he heroically was able to move on his own or if it was just one of my sudden stops that shook him from his warm towel but the next thing I noticed was my pal sliding across the floor of the mail truck when I stopped. He looked like a fuzzy hockey puck and before I realized that it was him that slid up and slammed into the front of the truck I had accelerated and he was suddenly sliding back to the rear of the vehicle. This was confirmed seconds later with a small thud. I panicked and slammed on the breaks… which sent my seemingly frictionless pet once again hard into the metal panel at the front of my vehicle.
I scooped him and started to pick off all the dirt and shit that was sticking to his eyeballs. Poor little guy.
And still his chest rose and fell telling me that the breath of life was still within him.
“What the fuck GP?!” was all I could say.
I’m not sure what it is a hamster has to live for but whatever it was it was strong within GP. I wonder if I would fight this hard to stay in a life where all I eat is pellets and my only activity is running in a wheel. Perhaps there is something to this simplicity. I must remember to consider this later on during my nightly existential explorations.
At that moment however it was time to end it for GP.
Lovingly I placed him in front of my front right wheel and then ran him over.
As much of a fighter as he was there was no amazing escape from the icy grip of the Reaper this time. There was no last meaningful glance either. I wedged him in there under the wheel like he was a doorstop and I needed that door open but good.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.
To that list you may add “death of their pet hamsters”… for I took one look back to make sure my comrade was indeed squished flat and then I continued on my route.
I had mail to deliver.
GP would have wanted it that way.