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I’ll never shake hands with the vet again.

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My dog Koda has a problem with impacted anal glands. Wait … don’t leave. I swear that’s what the vet told me! Let’s just say, she could have told me he needed canine breast implants, and I would have just handed over my credit card. Vets are awesome. I vow never to shake hands with one again.

So now Koda is on all kinds of meds for about two weeks.  Five pills a day, a syringe full of something else and – you probably guessed – antibiotic ointment twice daily to his badunkadunk.

Remember that stage when you disguised all your kids’ medications in every which way just to get them to take it?  The crushed Tylenol in strawberry jam? The liquid antibiotic sundae? Yeah, that’s the week I’m having.

“Peanut butter for breakfast?!” drooled Koda. “Yes! Yes! I’m a good boy! Yes I am! Gimme the peanut butter! I want the peanut butter!”

His brother Murdoch slinks out of the kitchen. He’s no fool. “You idiot!” yapped Murdoch, “It’s a trap. Why do you think you’re wearing the cone of shame?!” He knew well enough to stay clear during med rounds.

I was able to dispense Koda’s meds a total of exactly three times this way before he figured it out and licked all the peanut butter off the pills.  Time to move on.

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I get wieners for dinner! It must be Christmas!” panted Koda. “Yes! Yes! Gimme the wieners! I want the wieners!”

Murdoch looked disgusted, “You forgot to say, ‘Hold the Cephalexin’, you twerp!”

Twice burned now, Koda is not falling for any more food tricks, much like my second and third children didn’t fall for the antibiotic sundae. Murdoch is clearly coaching Koda much like my firstborn coached his young siblings I now realize.

“Here’s what we gotta do,” arfed Murdoch, nudging Koda with his snout, “You just gotta suck it up, Man! It’s not a bad gig. Down the pills … fake a whimper … and presto! The bacon comes out! Don’t worry. I got your bacon – I mean – tail!”

Easy for Murdoch to say. He didn’t endure a reverse-Brazilian!

Another whole week of this circus.

koda cone of shame

Le tour du hamster …

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When our kids swore up and down that they would look after whatever pet they’d begged us for, we all know that it’s me who was going to end up looking after it, right?  Will I ever learn? A lot can happen in 24 hours.

hamster1I’ve been left in charge of my 12-year old daughter’s pets while she is away at camp. I’m a little surprised this responsibility was conferred upon me again given the humiliation suffered in the summer of 2010 (the hamster and I).  The elaborately masterminded jailbreak (hamster) and lots of screaming (me), is now affectionately referred to in our family as The Pumpkinseed Redemption.

Nevertheless, my daughter has a new hamster now (not my fault; just a coincidence) and once again, she asked me to look after her. For a full week I have dutifully changed her water and fed her, even taking her out of her habitat thingie once or twice and letting her run all over my daughter’s bed (hey, she lets the hamster do it so why not me?).

Then last night before my own evening ablutions, I went to check on little Miss Maggie (so named after my daughter’s middle name, which is probably more socially acceptable than saying she named the hamster after her great-grandmother).  Maggie was standing on her sleeping cave just staring out into space.  She was alive, but somehow overnight she had grown these two massive tumours on the side of her neck.  I mean, MASSIVE.  Quasimodo had a pimple on his back compared to Maggie’s contusions.  “Oh no. Oh no. Please, no.” I started muttering to myself. “Please don’t die” but I couldn’t help imagining the letter I would be writing the next day:  “Dear Emily, It’s about your hamster …Yeah, I know…  again.”  Just how does a hamster go from the picture of health to stage four Hodgkin’s in 24 hours?

Because I am not qualified to administer chemotherapy, I quickly run downstairs and grab some lettuce. If she was going to die she was going to damn well have her Last Supper.  I coaxed her to the front of the cage with the lettuce.  She looks at me.  She looks at the lettuce.  She looks at me. She looks at the lettuce. I know I should have washed it first but there wasn’t any time.  Ignoring my lettuce and my pleas she waddles to the back of her cage, behind the hamster wheel, to breathe her last breath I am sure.

Only instead, she proceeds to heave her two massive tumours in a neat little corner of her cage. Lardass Barfarama was a day in the park compared to Maggie spewing what looked like three times her body weight (oh sorry, were you eating?).  It was the most horrifying and revolting thing I have seen since my kids were in diapers.  What she does next is even more appalling.  She walks back over to where my hand is still frozen in its outstretched manner, still holding the lettuce offering which she now peacefully takes it out of my hand and proceeds to munch.  Just needed to make some room, I guess.

So Maggie is not, in fact, dying of cancer, but she is, however, bulimic.  I am now off to google nutritional and psychological counselling for hamsters. Keep Maggie in your prayers.


Life, interrupted…

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The end came without much warning.  Is that not always the way?

This past week, Sausage, my daughter’s pet hamster of two years, died in his sleep.  A mere two days later, her friend across the street, lost his pet guinea pig, Reggie, who died in the bath tub.  Both deaths were a complete shock.  Everyone is thinking it, but they’re all afraid to say it out loud:  it was a suicide pact.

These poor tortured pocket pet souls had so little time together.  Still, I knew they were kindred spirits the first time Sausage laid eyes on Reggie through the green haze of his hamster ball.  You know, in these days of mammalian social media (that hamster wheel was squeaking out some kind of a code, I just know it), I wonder if something more sinister was not to blame for the tragic passing of these furry family friends.

They were such good boys, and to face such senseless deaths; it breaks my heart.  Why did this have to happen?

Oh, who am I trying to kid?  From the get-go, Sausage’s life was one traumatic event after another.  First, upon being adopted, Sausage is brought home to a family with 2 large menacing dogs.  Then, the solitary closet confinement when guests complained about his noise.  Looking back there were signs:  the numerous attempts at running away from home, the hunger strikes after we ran out of pumpkin seeds, his endless days of sleep.  We should have realized we needed professional help for his PTSD following The Great Cottage Cage Mishap of 2011 in which he lost an appendage.  If we’d only done something then, all this might have been avoided.

On the other hand, why Reggie should suffer a similar fate is such a mystery.  He had a life of privilege and entitlement.  His was a swanky, open-concept loft cage overlooking the kitchen in the heart of SoPo (South of Potter).  His family took him outside for fresh air, exercise and exposed him to cultural events (er – band night).  It just doesn’t make any sense.

None of this makes sense.

With aching hearts we gathered on Friday after school to pay our respects.  The memorial service was held at 7pm by the trampoline.  People came to pay their respects from as far away as the family room.  The altar was tastefully adorned with freshly-picked red impatiens.  My daughter spoke a few words about Sausage, and her friend offered a touching eulogy for Reggie, who was – yes, we know – bigger and stronger than Sausage.  I sniffed into the tissues thoughtfully left under the patio chairs for funeral patrons, while Funeral for a Friend played mournfully on the iPod.

And then it was over.

Sausage’s life…

Reggie’s life…

The memorial service…

Pop and chips were served at the reception.

Hindsight is 20/20 they say, so I will always ask myself, “Was there any more I could have done?”  Maybe if I hadn’t said “no” to the hamster-powered sports car, Sausage would still be with us today.

All that’s left of their lives now are little gravestone markers and our memories.

…and the 50%-Off coupon from PetSmart.

Ode to Sausage

We bid farewell to Sausage, our pet.
Whose death has made us quite upset.
His 3-toed distinctive feature,
Made him an amazing little creature.
And the friendliest, furriest and funniest pet yet.

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