Kylie and I have been the proud parents of two hamsters since last summer. They have lived together but apart, side by side in their matching cages, idly running on their annoying little wheels and snacking on sunflower seeds for the duration of their time with us. We even gave them matching names, Edward and Bella. (I should not have to explain that one.) Since we are not allowed to have a dog in our new house, the hamsters will have to suffice. I'm honestly shocked that they have lived this long.
On Thanksgiving, my parents came down, and my mom brought her dog, Roxie, for a visit. Kylie stashed the hamsters in her room to prevent Roxie from wanting an afternoon snack. Our Thanksgiving was cut somewhat short by the fact that I had to be at work at 1 AM for the Black Friday madness; therefore, I had to find a way to sleep the afternoon away so that I could function on the sales floor the following day. Instead of a twelve hour shift, I had to pull a 22 hour day when one of my assistants didn't show. I came home at almost midnight on Friday night. I was exhausted beyond words, but so thankful to finally be at home.
Being the responsible pet owner that I am, I immediately went to Kylie's room to bring the hamsters out to their designated spot on the table in our hallway so that I could feed them. Bella was eagerly awaiting her breakfast, but imagine my shock when I discovered the door to Edward's cage open without a hamster in sight. I must have stood there for a few seconds with a zillion thoughts racing through my mind. Omigosh, there is a hamster loose in my house. What if I step on him? What if he croaks in that pile of laundry that has been on my floor for weeks? I would have to burn all of my clothes. What am I going to say to Kylie? At this time, it had been over 24 hours since his cage has been left opened, so there was absolutely no telling where he could be. That thought did not stop me from digging through the pine chips in his cage. Then I searched underneath Kylie's bed with a flashlight. I found a rotten apple, a half-eaten poptart, and some of my office supplies that had miraculously vanished when we moved in, but no hamster.
I was so exhausted from being awake for over 24 hours that the loss of my hamster felt like the end of the world. I was weepy as I searched the entire house for him, calling his name as though he were a puppy that would come running out to me. Hell no, he knew that if he was found, he was going to spend the rest of his life running around in that little green cage. Edward had gotten a taste of freedom, and I think he liked it. When he failed to turn up, I felt like the biggest failure of a parent on the planet, although I had lectured Kylie a million times to make sure that the cage doors were completely secure. Just before I fell into bed, I left a little bowl of hamster food on the floor in the hallway, hoping that he would find it and leave my laundry alone. I also was imagining all of the damage that hamsters could cause to my house, causing me to rationalize to my landlord that hamsters do not, in fact, count as those pets that I'm not allowed to have.
The following afternoon, I came home from work to find that Edward's food had been scattered on the floor. I was ecstatic to know that he was still alive. So I took it one step further and added a box with pine chips and his hamster wheel to the floor. I imagined finding his nestled in the corner of the box the next day or hearing him run on the wheel in the middle of the night. It didn't happen. A couple more days passed, and I had resigned myself to the idea that Edward was not coming back. How long can a hamster on the lamb survive in the wild jungle that was my house?
Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 7 AM. As I was laying in bed, deciding if I wanted to get up and look presentable for work or if I could pull off a ten-minute shower/hair fix, I heard something. Scratch, scratch, scratch.... It was coming from under my bed. I held my breath for a second, and then I heard it again. Scratch, scratch, scratch... Edward was alive, and he was in my room! I grabbed the flashlight that I had been using previously to look for him, and I shined it under my bed. I saw nothing, so I made my way to the other side of the bed which was closer to the wall. That's when I saw the little supply of hamster food, scattered beneath my nightstand. This is also the place that I throw all of my tall winter boots on the floor (since I have no closet space). Instantly, I knew that Edward was in one of those boots. I picked each one up, one at a time, and gently shook them out. When I reached the last one, sure enough, Edward slid out of it and plopped on the floor. He looked just as surprised to be there as I was to find him. Before he could bolt away, I scooped him up and ran to Kylie's room, where I awakened her with the news that her furry little friend had been rescued. I was so excited that he was back that I didn't even mind having to shake the hamster poop out of my boot, too.
Now, normalcy has resumed in my household. I no longer have to worry about walking through my house at night, terrifed that I will step on a wayward hamster. I am overwhelmed with relief.
My laundry, however, is still on the floor. I really have no reason to pick it up now that Edward has been located.
10 hours ago