Snowball was Pretty's hamster. She asked Santa for it last year and Santa complied, sort of. You see Santa, in all his wisdom, brought a cage, food, bedding, accessories and a note. Not a hamster. The note explained that it was far too cold at the North Pole for such a small animal and it would have gotten squished on his sleigh. Instead, he brought her everything she needed and gave her $20 with instructions to tell mom & dad to take her out on Boxing Day to pick out her new friend. And that's exactly what we did.
We made sure to get the youngest hamsters available, as they do have short life-spans. We talked about proper handling and training of the hamster to make it a good and friendly pet. Pretty was ready to accept the challenge.
Sadly, last night as Pretty was getting ready for bed, she realized Snowball was missing. This wasn't uncommon for Snowball as she had escaped two previous times. I went to check the cage and begin the search when I found her in the corner of the cage, slightly buried in the bedding. I instantly knew she was gone; and I'm fairly certain Pretty saw her but went into shock and denial, hence the Snowball's missing call of panic.
I calmly took Pretty aside and told her how very sorry I was; but, Snowball was gone. Cue horrific sobbing now. Pretty was a mess. She was beside herself and wanted to know how it happened, why it happened and then "she's not dead, she's just sleeping". When I managed to convince her that she wasn't just sleeping, I left her to grieve while I got the other two kids to bed. Then I went back and we talked some more about death and how sometimes, even pets that are young, can have problems and die. I explained that just because Snowball didn't look or act sick, that she didn't have something going on inside of her we couldn't see.
Pretty then did something that surprised me and made me realize how much she is growing. She went and got the hamster care books and began reading to find out what she did wrong and what she can do to make sure her replacement hamster, "when my heart stops hurting", won't suffer from the same fate so soon. I tried to comfort her by saying she didn't do anything wrong; but, if she wanted to brush up on her hamster care, I was okay with that.
She silently cried herself to sleep and this morning is in somewhat better spirits. Snowball has been stored on ice until Mr. Twingle can be home for a funeral tomorrow. Pretty wrote a letter to Snowball this morning that we will bury with her; and she's already decided her next hamster will be named Oreo because she wants it to be a sable banded teddy bear hamster.
Farewell, Snowball. You will be missed.
"December 26, 2011" to October 17, 2012.