A Hamster Story

I had a very sad event in my hospital when I was practicing in Northern California in the early 1980’s. A young girl and her mother brought in a hamster. She wanted to have the nails trimmed. As I carried the hamster back to the treatment area to have a technician do the nails the hamster suddenly passed away. She was old and I am sure it was just her time but had no doubt that the trip to the hospital was too much for her. I was devastated and needed to break the news to the little girl. The daughter was still in the exam room and the mother had moved up to the front of the hospital. I told the mother and she asked if I would mind speaking to her daughter without her present. I explained the situation to her twelve year old daughter. She was distraught which was not surprising because I was as well. I felt I had little to offer her other than very heart felt sympathy.

The hospital closed for ninety minutes later that day before evening hours. It was winter so darkness was setting in. I was so upset over the loss of the hamster that I went to a local store and bought a hamster for the little girl. I had the parent’s address and spent the next bit of time trying to find their house. I had to knock on a few doors to get directions and apparently a grown man with a cardboard hamster carrier doesn’t inspire trust. The first couple of people just said they weren’t interested through the door and I moved on. By the time I found where the house was it was too late and I had to get back to see my appointments. As I drove up to a full parking lot, I realized my new hamster had escaped in my car. There in full view of my next two hours of appointments I chased a screaming hamster around my beat up car. I can only imagine what the people were thinking. I finally secured her and moved her to safer housing until I was through for the evening. 

I returned to the little girl’s house and presented her the new hamster with her parent’s permission. They were thrilled and I felt a sense of relief that their daughter’s sadness was lessened.

The next day a staff member came and told me the mother was on the phone. I took the call thinking she was going to thank me again. To my surprise she informed me that the hamster had several babies that night! Once we figured out what we were going to do with the babies we both had a good laugh over the situation. The hamster family became a nice show and tell piece for her daughter.

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