Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No pets allowed (except Rascle)

I am not an animal lover. I don’t enjoy being licked by dogs or having my pants treated like scratching posts by cats. When we moved to Michigan one of the only bright spots was getting to find a new home for our dog. “You know, kids,” I said, “Buster’s a Southern dog and he just wouldn’t do well in the cold, harsh Michigan weather.”

My pet disdain is not limited to furry things; I’m not even a fan of fish. They may seem like ideal pets for someone who doesn’t want to actually interact with an animal, but you do have to clean the tank and replace the filters and that, my friend, can be a really, really gross job.

(Hey, all you animal lovers: stop the hating – you’re going to love me in about 400 words.)

While I would like to completely ban all living animals from our home, I realize having pets is good for the kids. All three children have fish, and Rebecca has a hamster. Michael and Amy each had a hamster several years ago but those little guys moved on to wherever dead hamsters move to. Rebecca’s hamster, Rascle, has lived longer than either of our previous hamsters; he’ll be two in January.

Given my obvious disdain for pets, no one was more surprised than I when I found myself, at 11:30 Monday night, trying to rescue Rascle from his new cage, a cage with an apparent death ledge.

Even the most hard-hearted animal hater couldn’t hate Rascle. He’s patient and sweet and Rebecca will be quick to tell you he’s only bitten her once, “And that was when he was getting used to me.” His cage was getting a little wobbly, and the thought of that little guy escaping was not one I cared to entertain, so we bought him a new habitat Monday.

It looked good but when we got home and put Rascle in it we realized he was not using the ladder to get down; he was simply jumping off the ledge.

Hamsters have no depth perception (there’s your fun animal fact for the day), so instead of realizing the ledge ended, Rascle simply thought he was walking onto more bedding. It was only a few inches down, but he's only a few inches tall. Falling the length of your body is significant.

When I realized Rascle was repeating his misstep I blocked off the ladder and resolved to exchange the new cage for one without the Step of Death.

Rebecca, Amy and I went to the pet store after school Tuesday to pick out a new cage. After we doubled our investment Rebecca walked out holding a deluxe hamster habitat. And since Rascle was waiting for us in the car, we needed to put it together post haste.

I figured she could snap it together as we drove to our next errand but it was a bit more involved than I’d anticipated. I stopped the car and helped her put the cage together so Rascle could be rescued from the cardboard box that was his temporary residence.

We got it all snapped together and introduced Rascle to his new digs; he seemed pleased. And really, why wouldn’t he be? Two stories, fresh water bottle, new food cup, and no Step of Death.

I may not be a dog/cat/fish person but this little hamster... well, I won’t go so far as to say I’m a hamster person, but that little guy has certainly worked his way into my heart. Lack of depth perception and all.

(Animal lovers, don’t you feel badly for thinking such terrible things about me a few paragraphs ago?!)

Rebecca and me trying to put the cage together in the backseat of the car:

Rascle in his new home - see him in the top of the cage?

Here's his new habitat in our habitat: