To Catch a Hamster – Part 1

Drawing: my daughter

March 1, 2013

It was the February blizzard of 2013. We lost power at 9:30pm on Friday night. The outside temperature dipped into the single digits and our thermostat dropped into the low 50s on Saturday afternoon.

My wife and I packed up the kids so they could go to her mother’s house where she had an oil radiator powered by a generator. I would stay home with our dog while we kept all the taps running at a slow pace so that the pipes wouldn’t freeze.

“We should take the hamsters”, my wife said. According to the directions that came with our hamsters, they should be kept at temperatures around 70 degrees. We broke down “Hamsterdam” which consists of two separate cage systems, so the hamsters don’t rip each other apart, complete with tubes, wheels and nesting areas. I put each hamster into its own cage and sent them off on their journey to warmer climes. On one cage I forgot to put a stopper in an opening in the top. Not like me but we could see our breath inside the house and the kids were getting stir crazy with no screen time in two days.

We regained power at 4am on Monday morning and the family returned to me Monday afternoon. That’s when we noticed that LouLou, my daughter’s hamster, was missing. Salty, my son’s hamster, returned home safe.

We arrived at the name “LouLou” when my daughter was set on naming the hamster Lulu but we thought the hamster was a boy. Hence, LouLou. We have since found out that he is a she. Now, she is LooLoo on the Loose.

At first we thought that LooLoo was in my wife’s car but this was a complex nut to crack. My wife had been rear-ended a week ago so she had a Prius rental car. She drove the hamsters and kids to her mother’s in the Prius. On her way back to our house she dropped the Prius at Enterprise and picked up her car.  When we realized that LooLoo was missing our first call was to Enterprise. “There may be a hamster in the Prius that we just dropped off.” “Oh,” the rental agent said. “It just went back out.” We didn’t think they would call the current renter and ask them to look for a hamster.

Nothing is simple in our family. Names of hamsters. Car situations. Utility reliability. Hamster captivity.

So, our first step was to use process of elimination to determine the whereabouts of our fugitive. We put peanuts on each seat of my wife’s car. We also put a small dish of nuts on the floor of my mother-in-law’s kitchen. With no word from Enterprise we went to bed.

The next morning all the peanuts in my wife’s car are present and accounted for but the dish on the kitchen floor at Nana’s house is empty. DUN DUN. (Law & Order sound-effect.) Send in the detectives.

I bring the kids to search their Nana’s house and they commence in the methodical fashion that kid’s use in playing hide and seek. They rush from room to room and throw open doors expecting LooLoo to be hiding under a bed or in a closet behind some coats.

I, having caught a mouse or two, search the smaller, darker places with an LED flashlight. I have found that small rodents always go into places you wouldn’t think they would like: the drawer where we keep plastic bags and aluminum foil, the Tupperware drawer, the drawer under the stove where you keep your pots and pans. AH HA!

Nuts and nuggets. Peanuts. Droppings. A crayon? Chewed.

I pull out the drawer and shine the light under the stove. A small ragged hole allows the power cable to pass through the wall and sitting there, inside the wall, an almond.

DUN DUN.

(to be continued)

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