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A lot has been written about how to handle the death of a pet in your family. Very little has been written on how to handle the death of a pet while on a playdate. More specifically, a hamster.

hamster (12)

I’m here to fill that void.

Last weekend, my kids were on a playdate at the house of a neighborhood friend. The friend is a lovely 3rd grader named Ava and my children were delighted to be at her house for the first time.

After exploring her toys which are the same as our toys but totally amazing and fun in a different house, they decided to play with the little girl’s hamster.

And that’s when there was the first inkling of foreshadowing that something might not be right when this little girl said to her mom, “Sami the hamster won’t wake up for everyone!”

Now because I am well versed in animals that don’t wake up…. due to the fact that I once had a “sleeping” raccoon in my yard, I knew we might be in trouble.

The mother went upstairs to investigate the sleepy hamster and quickly yelled down, “We have to cut short the playdate for today.” And then the little girl Ava came downstairs with tears running down her face.

“Children! It’s time to go!” I called out. “We’ll come back and play another day!! Thank you!” And I rushed them out the door.

But it a dramatic plot twist, the hamster was apparently still breathing. But very listless. So after we left, my friend put him on a heating pad because he seemed cold. Bless her sweet heart because that is a kind thing to do for your kid’s hamster. I’m not sure it’s medical protocol, but very nice indeed.

I offered to text my friend who is a vet in NYC but it was too late. The hamster died shortly after.

I explained to my 4 year old twins and 8 year old who were all at the playdate that Sami the hamster had passed away but he had lived a short but vibrant life.

They seemed okay with it and my 4 year old son updated the rest of our family… “We went on a playdate today and Ava’s hamster died but it’s okay because she has a lot of other pets.”

Alright then.

Ava has already gotten a new hamster… an adorable little rodent named Delilah who apparently poops in her wheel. I wish her a long, happy life.

10 Responses to playdate mishaps: when the hamster dies

  • My then 11-year-old Brian went next door to learn how to care for the neighbor kids’ bunny, which he had been asked to watch during their vacation, due to start the next day. The children led him excitedly over to their pet’s cage, only to discover that it was, well, dead. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a dead bunny. Much chaos and weeping ensued, during which Brian quietly slipped out the front door and came home, but didn’t tell me what had happened. I found out later from the mother (she was asking if Brian were all right), and all I could think was, “Thank goodness that didn’t happen on our watch.”

  • Princess Judy says:

    “but it’s okay because she has other pets.” That cracked me up.

    I do have to say as a pet owner it is annoying when a pet dies and people immediately pipe up, “You can always get another dog.” People sure get grumpy when you say that at a spouse’s funeral though. “You can always get another husband!!!” 😉

  • Paul says:

    Ha! Funny post Kelcey. Our 10 year old daughter pined for a hamster. We had two cats and i explained carefully that the hamster would not be safe. She promised to keep it in its cage in her room with the door closed. Her constant pleading finally broke us so we bought her a hamster ( cost – $5) and the necessary hamster house, food, dishes, wood chips, water bottle, exercise run, hamster wheel, hamster pillow cases (for her, not the hamster), ect. (cost – $150). Hammie, as he came to be called in a fit of divine naming epiphany, was a lot smarter than he first appeared. He learned to open his cage, not realizing that it was as much for protective custody as it was for confinement. The other thing he could do that came as a surprise was that he could reduce his body width to a thickness of about that of a sheet of paper.and travel under doors or into cabinets or basically anywhere.

    Then one fateful night Hammie combined his repertoire of tricks, escaped form his cage, left the room under the door and proceeded downstairs where two felines were waiting. About 3 am, i got up to get a glass of water and came downstairs to find a recently deceased Hammie sitting, as if posed, on a white floor tile at the bottom of the stairs and seated on either side on green floor tiles were the two cats. They looked very pleased and appeared to be expecting to be praised for ridding the house of a rodent.

    I garbaged the rodent and went back to bed. When the kids came down for breakfast the next morning I explained what had happened.the little girl was insistent that I retrieve Hammie and help her have a burial ceremony in the garden out back, And so we did, with a grand turnout of neighborhood children, all of whom had milk and cookie afterwards.

    I would like to say that there were tears and feeling of loss that prevailed but I would be lying. There was instead an excited atmosphere combined with a certain fascination of death that drew the large, albeit short, crowd.

    • Kelcey says:

      The hamster ability to escape is quite unnerving. As a kid, I once woke up with my sister’s hamster staring at me on my pillow. I’ve never quite embraced rodents since then.

    • Princess Judy says:

      My hamster, Charlotte was also a trickster, able to open her cage door and later undo the twist tie and open the door, and then later yet undo the dog leash clip lock and open the door, so we resorted to a tiny padlock AND put the key on a far away shelf because we didn’t trust her to not figure out how to use the key to open the lock.

      The interesting thing about her forays into the wilds of our household is we had 5 cats…. 5 cats who would stand nervously about and watch her. I think they realized that they would be in trouble if they hurt momma’s hamster and I also think they thought were already in trouble because the hamster was out, because you know, when bad things happen it is a cat’s fault. Global warming—because of cats.

  • AN says:

    In my case, it was a kitten and a whole class of Sunday School kids! I had an ailing kitten who had been brought back from the brink several times but, unfortunately, was still not thriving. The morning of a special Sunday School party for my 6 and 7 years olds did not start off well for poor Eliza Doolittle (and, yes, her littermate was called Henry Higgins) and only went downhill. As she lay in her small cat tent in my garage, the kids started to arrive and were, of course, interested in the tiny, sick kitten. I explained that she was very sick and was resting in the tent. She hadn’t moved the entire time the kids were watching until she took her last breath and gave a final shudder. When they saw the movement, the kids excitedly proclaimed her on the road to recovery. I turned the cat tent with a now-deceased kitten away from their little eyes with the explanation of more needed rest for Eliza (and totally avoided that whole death conversation). She “rested” until after everyone went home and I could dig a hole!

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kelcey kintner