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Hamster Tails #7: Pompadour

Posted By wiffy On October 7, 2009 @ 11:16 pm In Hamster Tails | 15 Comments


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This article is written for Hamster Tails by HH guest writer Meowmies, a special series on real-life hamster adoptions that will tug at your heartstrings.
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I cannot describe the feeling you get from knowing you have greatly improved an animal’s life, seeing them become healthy and happy.

Pompadour

I had not been planning to adopt any pets, but when I saw an advertisement for a ‘proven breeding pair’ of dwarfs on a forum I knew I had to help them. They were clearly malnourished, especially the female. She looked like she would not survive having another litter. They were being kept in the smallest cages I have ever seen. The male had no wheel or toys other than a nest box.

Pompadour

I tried to adopt the female, who had the sweetest face and deserved a safe home where she wouldn’t be bred from again. There was something about her that just cried out to me. It was far more difficult than I had bargained for though. After two weeks of talking to the owner on the phone and by email – going back and forth trying to arrange to adopt – I finally brought home a thin little Winter White dwarf. She was absolutely terrified of people and would become aggressive if anyone got close. If you went near her cage she would dart into a gigantic secure nest she had built to protect herself.

Seeing this bright eyed little soldier enjoy life to the fullest let me know I made the right decision to adopt.

Pompadour

Even though for the first week I did not go near her, I could tell how happy she was to be here. It was amazing to see the mess she would make in her cage overnight when no one was there to scare her. She had never been able to burrow before – so she went absolutely nuts for her new deep bedding! She completely buried every object in the cage each night because she enjoyed digging around so much. She had also never had a sand bath and it quickly became another one of her favourite things to do, roll around spreading sand everywhere! The only thing she was not enjoying was her food, which her old owner had given me. She ate almost nothing, no wonder she was so thin. I slowly changed it over to Harry Hamster and suddenly she discovered that food was also one of her favourite things!

I started trying to feed treats by hand and at first she would bite me [hard!] out of fear but she started to trust me very quickly and soon became a super sweet softie!

In the second week she became more confident when I was around and had already gained a lot of weight. I started trying to feed treats by hand and at first she would bite me [hard!] out of fear but she started to trust me very quickly and soon became a super sweet softie! She became comfortable with being held, and this is when I realised that she was in fact a definite male. I contacted his owner straight away, confused and upset, wondering what had happened to the real female. It turns out that while I was trying to adopt her; She had been bred again. Her owner made up stories to try and stall her sale until the pups were old enough to be sold – just so she could get that extra little bit of money out of her before she gave up keeping hamsters. Tragically, the female could not manage and had died still nursing her two week old litter. She had only lived 8 months. I was sold the male without knowing it and had failed to save her. The owner had planned to tell me and switch him for the female later after the litter was sold, but she didn’t make it that far.

Pompadour

I was unhappy with the situation but I fell in love with my new little man. I renamed him from Alphie to Pompadour and he officially took his place as part of the family. He was aggressive but he was never a ‘nasty’ hamster, deep inside he was always gentle and loving. All he needed was a cage big enough to express his natural instincts and tasty food – I was surprised how fast he tamed.

PompadourPompadour’s tail

I cannot describe the feeling you get from knowing you have greatly improved an animal’s life, seeing them become healthy and happy. He also developed such a close bond with me as a result. He would sit grooming all my fingers by licking each one and sometimes would try to pull me into his cage. By the time he was an old man, he began to really enjoy attention. He would happily sit in my hand and sink into a deep sleep each day while being gently stroked.

He always somehow seemed so grateful for everything he had, almost as if he remembered his past.

Pompadour

Sadly, he had several ongoing genetic health problems. He also had to have a hind leg amputated after it broke very badly. I was amazed by his will to live and high spirit. No matter what happened, he never stopped being active and friendly, never stopped licking me and never had his ears flat down. Each vet who saw him and heard his extensive medical background just fell in love and could not believe how cheerful and bright he always seemed despite his problems.

Pompadour was an expert in flower arrangement too

He always somehow seemed so grateful for everything he had, almost as if he remembered his past. He was slightly neurotic with strange behaviourisms and irrational fears that remained until his final days, but he embraced life with his whole being. Little Pompadour lived to be 2 years and 4 months old. On his final day, he didn’t let his failing body prevent him from doing exactly what he loved. Even as he physically began to fall apart, he desperately tried to continue foraging, grooming, running. It was one of the few times he let the pain show through in his eyes – but you could also see just how much he wanted to stay. My vets and I had to let him go to sleep. Now he can play forever with complete freedom.

Pompadour

Seeing this bright eyed little soldier enjoy life to the fullest let me know I made the right decision to adopt.

Author’s afternote: However, I have learned a valuable lesson. I will never trust someone who has been breeding irresponsibly or buy any hamsters from them again – even if they say they are giving it up and just selling their two last hamsters, like Pompadour’s previous owner had done. From now on I personally will only rescue from rescue centres and people who have to give away/sell their pet hamsters because their child got bored, they are moving house, or any reason other than because they bred them. I don’t want to fund anyone who is breeding hamsters that might be as genetically weak as Pompadour or be stuck raising litters with little comfort like his partner; no hamster deserves to be born to suffer.

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