Den of the Beastly Bear
To any of you that look forward to these, sorry about yesterday!
Through the years, our dear Princess Bear has expressed an interest in having her own pet/s.
Of course as thoughtful parents we set her down, explained the responsibility a pet entails, and what we expected of her.
Never deterred, her first were gold fish.
Which she named Barney and Baby Bop...
An homage to her favorite TV show characters.
And when they eventually went to that big fishbowl in the sky, they got proper burials behind the shed.
When we moved, she wanted me to dig them up and take them with us...I talked her out of this...
Next up she wanted teddy bear hamsters.
And ya gotta get two, because one would be lonely.
Now you'd think this would be a pretty easy thing wouldn't you? I mean when I was a kid it seemed like EVERY store we went to had pets...Kmart, Sears, Montgomery Wards, you name it!
I'm not just talking fish...but mice, gerbils, hamsters, rats. Birds, like finches, canary's, parakeets...even a Mynah bird or two. Even more exotic things like turtles, newts, frogs and chameleons...and baby Caimans!
For those of you too young to know of what I speak.
Caimans are a member of the crocodile family, and yes you used to be able to buy baby ones at Kmart!
You fed them crickets and meal worms and when they got bigger small "feeder" goldfish.
I had one in the late 60s!
So I set out to find my daughter teddy bear hamsters...it took three separate pet shops before I finally found some.
Each and every store said "Oh, you don't want those for your daughter...they are mean, you should get her a rat! Rats are much more personable..."
"Um, no...I don't think the wife will go for that."
Now I had a hamster as a kid, her name was Buffy and we played with her all the time...no problems. Well with the exception that you can't potty train one, so if you handle them enough...eventually...you're gonna get crapped on!
So two teddy bear hamsters were acquired, and a Habitrail for them to live in!
Not quite this elaborate, but enough to do to keep them busy... It had a wheel, and a penthouse like this one does.
Even a ball, and a car were bought so when playing with them they could move around and still be protected should Tasha the wonder dog decide they were snacks, not pets!
The Habitrail was set up in Katie's room, where she fed them and kept their water bottle full.
This seemed like a great idea, except...and there always is an "except" isn't there? Hamsters are nocturnal! That meant while Katie was trying to sleep,
her hamsters (Piglet & Pooh) were running the wheel, the tubes and generally making hamsterlike noises!
Now what Dad didn't think about, is that every time you cleaned the cage...that Habitrail had to ALL come apart and washed! This meant they had to be relocated for the process....
Now Katie handled Piglet and Pooh all the time with impunity... I on the other hand must have smelled like hamster ambrosia, cause the little bastards bit me... every...single...time I picked them up. Kathy too was immune, but I always got it!
And inevitably I'd say something like:
"Ouch....oh, you little bastard!"
To where that's how I came to refer to them, as the "little bastards"...except I didn't really realize I did.
Until I was cleaning the habitrail one night, having moved them into a bucket until I was done...
So there I am scrubbing away at the sink, using the tube brush on the tunnels as Katie played with them at the table.
Evidently the cleaning time exceeded childhood patience and Katie said to me:
"I don't think they like being in the bucket Daddy, how much longer???"
"Almost done baby, I just have to dry it all off and put it back together..." I answered.
"Did you hear that you little bastards? Daddy's almost done with your house!" Katie told them
"What did you say?" I asked my 6 year old daughter.
"You mean "little bastards"? That's what you always call them Daddy....I thought that's what they are...Daddy, what is a bastard?"
"Um Katie, that's kinda a bad word and not one you should use baby...Daddy usually says that when he's mad when they bite him..." I said.
"Huh unh, when you were getting them out to clean the cage you said "Come'mere you little bastards" and you weren't mad then..."
"Well Daddy shouldn't say things like that either." I told her "Here, we're all done. Let's put them back in their house."
Got one moved, no problem.
As I moved the other one...it bit me!
"Ouch you little b...." As I looked into the face of my little girl as she looked up at me "rat, you little brat! Quit biting me...
What a smile she gave me...I knew she was secretly laughing at me...but that smile made it all worthwhile.
The little bastards are buried behind the shed, a handmade wooden cross marks the spot.
For years they got bouquets of dandelions each summer...back behind the shed.