Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - May 5, 2006


My friend Joyce e-mailed me not long ago about her husband's adventure with her two birds. Bruce was working on the computer, which is directly under their cage. When he was done, he stood straight up, knocking the cage with his head, sending it flying through the air until it crashed to the floor. The door flew open, the budgies escaped and the next few minutes were noisy and a bit frantic as the family was rallied to help. Time was of the essence because no one knew how hungry the two family cats were.

Once the felines were corralled, the family went after the birds, eventually catching them and depositing them in a spare cage. Then Bruce took the original cage outside to hose it - and himself - down.

With the cage clean, the birds were returned to their home above the computer and were soon once again chattering away, Joyce said. Of course, she didn't know what the birds were really saying and speculated they may have been cursing the ineptitude of their human owners for all she knew.

Her story made me smile. It reminded me of the time her hamster escaped when we were freshmen in the dorm at K-State. The close quarters of our room meant that little irritating things the hamster did seemed even more irritating.

For one thing, the hamster was a night owl. During the day, it curled up in its bed of shredded paper and didn't make a peep. At night, it went around and around on its squeaky exercise wheel. I don't remember this, but Joyce said that one night I'd had enough of its nocturnal noises. I picked up the cage and put it inside our closet. From then on, that was where the hamster spent its nights.

It wasn't the neatest pet either. Every day, it kicked part of its bedding and bits of food out of the cage. I realize it was just nesting, but it griped me just the same.

Then one day, it escaped. We told Merle, the floor custodian, about it. His theory was that the hamster might have crawled into the heating pipes. Before long, our entire floor and probably the other nine floors as well knew about it. It caused a minor panic because most women aren't fond of any animal that even remotely resembles a rat. The thought of one roaming loose gave them the shivers.

But, it turned out the hamster didn't have such a big adventure after all. We found it in a pile of papers we had in the corner of our room. Maybe the hamster came by its messiness by association.

Art told a story the other day that made me think of my brother Dave's hamster. In the story, a fellow who was laying carpet finished the room only to notice a lump near the middle. He couldn't find his cigarettes, so he figured they had dropped from his pocket. He took a hammer and smashed the lump flat. Later, when he opened the door to his truck, he discovered his cigarettes. Just then the woman of the house appeared at the window and asked, "Did you happen to see my pet gerbil?"

In Dave's case, one day we noticed his hamster wasn't moving. We were all sad as it had become part of our family. Dad reluctantly put it in a coffee can and loosely placed the lid over the top. He then set it on the cement water pump platform with intentions of burying it the next day.

During the night, it rained. We're not sure what happened, but perhaps the rain revived the hamster because the next day we found that little soggy rat-shaped creature running around on the front sidewalk. Little Hammie must have just been hibernating.

Ah, people and their pet-scapades!

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