Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hamster Miracle!

It's almost a miracle - I found my hamster! She's been missing for WEEKS! I've spent part of every night looking for her, and have torn apart every room in the house, going into closets, drawers, behind furniture, emptying out boxes - the house looks like it's been totally and thoroughly TRASHED, and it has. Oy VEY!

Here's the saga of Kissy the Hamster, named Kissy because she is so sweet and tame that she literally covers my face with hamster kisses, and nudges her nose against mine over and over again like a kiss. I name my hamsters based upon their personalities and I currently have 45 of them, each in a separate cage, in the master bedroom that used to be Wesley's room. I now call it the "hamstery". My small hamster rescue service is called "Hamster Haven". Ok, so that's the background.

I sleep in a different room because the master bath has been turned into a hamster medical clinic and because, well, there are 45 hamsters in the hamstery! But I do keep about 10 cages in my bedroom also, because I love the sound of them all playing at night. It's like being on a ship and hearing all the different sounds as you sleep. It's also like sleeping alone in the mountains and hearing the little animals all around you. I've got great memories of both scenarios and the hammys bring that cozy feelling.

The way I lost Kissy was that I was playing with her and had an episode of narcolepsy. It didn't last long, but when I came to, there was no Kissy. I asked Fiona (my dog) "Where did the hamster go?" and she went to the hamstery door, which was closed and had a towel stuffed under the door, and shoved her nose against the towel. I thought it was unlikely that Fiona actually understood and answered me (WHEN will I learn?) and also unlikely that Kissy found a way to shove herself under that door, so I tore apart my bedroom looking for her. I couldn't believe she had disappeared so fast! As you know - she wasn't there.

I spent several nights sitting/sleeping quietly in different rooms hoping to hear the tiny footsteps or nibbling sounds of Kissy but nothing. I pulled out the fridge, the dishwasher, the stove...

So on and on it went. I also put out a lot of dishes of water and food in all the rooms, including hanging some water bottles. I noticed that the water bottles in the hamstery were being used. But here is the complication - I also had one other hamster loose in the hamstery! So it wasn't a slam dunk that it was Kissy drinking from the bottle. I had a male who had escaped during cage cleaning, and I knew he was alive and active because there were mystery piles of food being gathered and stored in certain corners, but I could never catch him at it. So was this Kissy or the male? Or both?

Adding to the confusion was the fact that dishes of baby food and dishes of water were being emptied in all the rooms, both upstairs and downstairs! Even the ones wedged behind furniture.

Weeks went by. I canceled going to Cait's over Christmas (in Colorado, which is my second home). I was always on the alert for the sound of a hamster, so I never really relaxed.

Finally, I asked everyone to pray for Kissy. I was very worried about Kissy because once before she had gotten loose and ended up trapped in a place where, if I hadn't found her, she would have died.

I decided to try the strategy of sneaking into a room between 3pm and 4pm, which is when they first get up and start eating and grooming. I sneaked into the hamstery very slowly and saw the male visiting the other hamsters. He saw me and froze. So, here's the trick w/ a not-so-tame hamster:

I faced him but didn't look at him directly. That way he stays frozen. If I faced away, he'd take that opportunity to race away and hide. But if he thinks I don't see him, but could if he moved, he'll stay frozen in place. So I walk right up to him, not looking at him, then slowly crouch down, still pretending not to see him, then my hand strikes out fast like a snake and I grab him (gently).

What great luck! He was healthy! I put him back in his cage. Then I decided to just go for it in the hamstery - take Fiona's word for it. I worked my way across the room and ended up crawling in the closet from one end to another, blocking the way behind me so no one could scoot passt me to the other side. At the far end I saw the biggest pile of food I've ever seen. It was almost 2 feet high, this mountain of hamster food! I had been throwing food all over the house so that no matter where the hammy was, he/she could find it. Sheesh! She found it all right. This is soo consistent w/ Kissy's personality! Then I heard her moving around under a low shelf and she came right out and right up to me and greeted me as if I had finally come by for a visit!

Oh the RELIEF! I cried. I was so happy to find her alive and healthy and hydrated! She seemed very happy to be back in her safe cage. Rodents know they are prey, and they like to feel safe and provided for. She went into her igloo and worked on her nest, drank from her bottle, ran on her wheel, then let down and slept and slept. She knew she didn't have to be so vigilant anymore. I know I'm claiming to know what she was thinking, but I have reasons for what I'm saying, based on having had hamsters for over 10 years, up to 45 at a time. I know all of them by name and they all know me. Some of them come when called by name.

When hamsters are out for as long as Kissy was, they go a little feral because they have to be so vigilant. So they have to act wild and become very nervous. It has taken Kissy awhile to settle down and relax, but she finally is back to her old self.

Now the question is, did she and the male "get together"? The odds are that they did, and that Kissy will have Kissy Kittens soon. ;-)

I have so many of these stories. Some of them are very surprising!

Thank you, those of you who prayed, sent good vibes, sent thoughts or light! I soo appreciate it! You know, just because an animal is very small, that does not mean they are any less loveable or complex or that they have any less personality than a large animal. I think it's easier for us to relate to animals closer to our own size, but if we just miniaturize our outlook, we can start to see all the tiny mannerisms and the colorful personalities of even the smallest creatures. The hamsters have been a big learning experience for me and a revelation. After I've written a few more books in my lineup, I intend to write one about the hamsters - not for kids per se, but kind of like Wesley the Owl except it's about the hamsters and my adventures with them.

Happy New Year and Happy New DECADE to you all! May this next decade be one of prosperity in all things - health, love, joy, peace, security, friendship, fulfillment - for all of you!



la isla d'lisa said...

YAY!! I'm so happy for you! I wonder the same thing: are babies on the way? Also, I'm curious ... how has the formerly free male adapted to being back in his home? And I totally 'get' the rodent love; Poto, my Abyssinian cavy, was such a character ... our attachment to him, and his to us, was completely unexpected (we'd only had dogs and cats before Poto). He was a wonderful little guy.

Angela said...

What a relief! I've been thinking about you and Kissy, and I'm so glad she's safe.

Thank you so much for writing about the animals you live with. I really enjoy hearing about their personalities, and especially knowing there are people out there who love them as much as I do.
Happy new decade to you, too.

Ter-o-fla said...

-whew!- what a relief!

thanks for telling us that she was found again.

Do all hamsters hoard food like that?


Debbie said...

Stacey, I'm so glad you found Kissy! And I'm so happy that you're blogging again. This is the first time I've left a comment, but I feel that I know you. You see, my husband and I were fortunate enough to go on a cruise in early December for our 30th wedding anniversary. Of course, one of the first things I did upon boarding the ship (Seabourne Odyssey) was check out the library. As I looked through the nonfiction section, my eyes kept going back to Wesley the Owl. So, naturally, I picked it up and would probably have read the whole book in one session had I been left to my druthers! Stacey, I'm an avid reader and have read hundreds of books, but rarely have I had one touch me so profoundly as yours. You and your dear Wesley touched my heart and really blessed me. Thank you so much for sharing your and Wesley's story! I've never written to an author before, but I promised myself I'd try to contact you when we got home from our trip. Then when I checked Wesley's webpage, I saw that your last blog entry was back in September. Knowing about your health problems, I was so afraid you were going through a rough patch. Well, I'm glad you're OK and writing again. I'm looking forward to hearing all the latest about you and your hammys and Fiona!