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Hamster Tails

This article is written for Hamster Tails by HH member Isa, a special series on real-life hamster adoptions that will tug at your heartstrings. Thanks to HoppingHammy for proof-reading it & cropping the photos.
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Author’s note: Many hamster stories start in a pet shop. Most of them are very simple, along the lines of “I was in a pet store and I fell in love with this cute hamster, so I had to bring it home with me. The End.” Johnny’s story starts in a pet shop, too, but it’s a totally different story. It’s so incredible, in fact, that you won’t believe it’s true. I think it’s an important story to be told, though, because it will teach you many things such as – what’s really behind the cute hamster you see in a pet shop, how you should not get a pet if you aren’t serious about keeping it its whole life, and how sometimes you can take a different route from walking into a pet shop to find your new companion! It may be more complicated, but it’s surely more rewarding. Now, on to the story!

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Johnny

Once, a girl who loved hamsters very much was in a pet shop. Even though she knew the pet shop owner very well, she didn’t like going in that shop because hamsters weren’t usually treated nicely there. But what she saw, that day, was beyond imagination. A whole family of Winter White hamsters – dad, mum and 4 babies with their eyes still closed – was living in a bucket without any toys, bedding, or even a hideout!

The brave girl, of course, complained with the store owner. He laughed and said she could bring all of them home for free. Now, this may seem strange, but you have to know that many pet shop owners sadly only care about money; and since a very small part of the shop’s income actually comes from the hamsters themselves, that’s why they don’t care about hamsters. They provide them with the cheapest housing and food possible, and it doesn’t matter if some of them die from illness or fighting with one another, since they reproduce so fast there’s no danger of running out of hamsters to sell!

Johnny

Anyways, the girl went back home with the whole “bucket family”. However, even though she separated dad from mum and the babies immediately, when the babies were about 21 days old, Mum gave birth to 3 other babies. (This explains why you should separate mummy and daddy hamster before the babies’ birth, but pet shop owners obviously don’t care.)

The girl had no choice but to separate the first 4 babies from mum and find them new homes. One of them, (nicknamed Leone (Lion) for his long, fluffy fur that resembled a lion’s mane) was adopted by another girl, who our rescuer knew very well. She thought he would finally have a nice home.

The End…? No, that’s not the end! One week later, while the girl was still struggling to find homes for the newest babies, Leone’s owner just brought him back. She said she changed her mind and she wanted to get a guinea pig instead. (Comments about this behavior are best left to the reader…)

Johnny

Poor Leone was without a home again. Who could possibly want him now, especially since he wasn’t a cute little baby anymore? In reality, he wasn’t even 2 months old, but people would prefer to adopt his younger siblings instead. That’s where the narrator of this story comes into play. I, Isa, who had followed the whole “bucket hamsters” story through a hamster forum, who couldn’t stand all what these poor hamsters had gone through (especially poor Leone), finally offered to adopt him. Actually, I was 1 hour away from where the girl lived and I didn’t have a car either!…no problem! I managed to organize a meeting at the train station, make the 1-hour train trip with an empty hamster carrier, meet the girl’s mum (who handed me the hamster and give her a brand-new Wodent Wheel as a gift), jump on the return train 10 minutes later, and finally be back home in time for lunch.

So, that’s how my hamster came to live with me. He’s been renamed “John”, after the nice girl who rescued him, (whose name is a female version of John) and his middle name is Leonard, as a variant of his old name Leone. John Leonard, usually shortened as Johnny, now lives in a 2-tier Imac Fantasy (a big improvement from a bucket!), and has a Wodent Wheel plus many other toys. He is as happy as a hamster can be!

Johnny

I hope you enjoyed reading Johnny’s story. Next time you go to a pet shop and see a cute hamster, think about Johnny. Ask yourself if you really want to support the pet shop business by buying one. Think that there may be another hamster, somewhere, whose life hasn’t been easy and who may not be so immediate for you to get, but who deserves love just as much. Consider adoption, which is always the best choice!

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Hamster Tails #7: Pompadour

by wiffy on October 7, 2009


Author::
hamster-tails-7-pompadour

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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Hamster Tails #6: Whipped Cream

by wiffy on September 17, 2009


Author::
hamster-tails-6-whipped-cream

This article is written for Hamster Tails, a special series on real-life hamster adoptions that will tug at your heartstrings.
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Whipped Cream

“He may be missing an ear, but this guy has the most wonderful personality and has much more to offer than just his looks.”

You’re adopting another hamster?”…

…were my parents’ reactions when I showed them the photo of an 8-week old Russian Campbell hamster that was for adoption. He had been online for a couple of weeks already, since adopting my previous dwarf. He was white with ruby eyes and a missing ear, but just the cutest little guy ever. Figuring no one else would want him, due to his imperfections, (not many people like red-eyed hamsters with missing ears) I knew what I had to do.

Whipped Cream

I emailed his foster parent to inquire and, indeed, no one else showed any interest in him. I told her I’d think about it a couple of days and get back to her. After making up my mind to adopt, I sent an email back asking about filling out the application and picking him up. I waited, and waited, and waited…..only to come home to an empty email inbox every night. I sent various emails and also called someone else (who was of no help) to show my interest in him. Still no reply. What was going on?

“It was a joyous day, and though he was quite shy and hid a lot at first, he has blossomed into one of the sweetest, most beautiful hamsters.”

Whipped Cream

In the meantime, 2 other dwarfs’ ads popped up and I inquired about them, but due to various reasons, neither of them worked out and I had given up hope of adopting any hamster. Over a month had passed and one day, out of the clear blue, an email showed up from the foster parent of the albino dwarf! What a shock! Apparently she was on vacation and took a break from emails, so was trying to catch up and asked if I was still interested in him. Of course I was jumping for joy and arranged to get him a.s.a.p.

Whipped Cream

After over a month of waiting, with his housing all setup and ready to go, “Whipped Cream” (named for his white coloring and ruby eyes that reminded me of cherries on whipped cream) finally came home with me! It was a joyous day, and though he was quite shy and hid a lot at first, he has blossomed into one of the sweetest, most beautiful hamsters. He may be missing an ear, but this guy has the most wonderful personality and has much more to offer than just his looks.

I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have finally adopted Whipped Cream, as my own, and he is here to stay.

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