Today has been a day

That’s for God damn sure.

(I swear, I will actually use this for educational purposes at some point, but right now it’s the only place I can vent about things without dealing with my in-laws)

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a bad mental health day where you just want to scream because you’re so damn nervous for no reason, but that’s how I’ve been. After all of that, I walked into the living room to do a quick check on the small ham-hams. When I smelled it, the reason the rats have been wigging out today: the smell of death.

Now, before anyone goes off on a tangent about how “a responsible pet owner would know right away before the smell came,” let me explain to you a thing.

We have two Robo dwarf hamsters: Mr. Squiggles and Dr. Doofinschmertz. They’re teeny tiny little balls of fluff who refuse to be socialized. Like, REFUSE. They’ve been with us for over a year now and I have tried and tried and tried everything I can find/know/try to do. Every single tutorial, blog post, instructional video, article I could find on socializing stubborn hamsters, I’ve tried it. They were in the shop so long without human interaction they just didn’t know how to handle it. So we let them be. No one but me is allowed to put their hands in the cage (they’re drawn blood before) and cage day is always a bitch because I have to stress the poor things out getting them out of their respective cages (Squiggles is an aggressive little shit) and into separate boxes or exercise balls just to scrub them out.

Both are okay with being spoken to, can handle my presence next to the cage, and love to hear someone singing to them. Just no touching. So, that’s what I do. I talk to them. I sing to them. I hang out with them. I just don’t touch them unless I absolutely have to. So, sometimes, I feel like I’m talking to an empty box because they’ve buried themselves beneath the bedding where I can’t see them.

So, no. I had no idea until I went to fiddle with the bedding and try to draw him out so I could see him. I opened the box and I knew. Mr. Squiggles had passed.

Let me tell you a little bit about Mr. Squiggles (Squiggs for short.) He’s was an aggressive shithead. He hated being handled. He hated hands in his cage. He hated toys. And he hated the bars of his original cage. I say that he hated it, but it was really an incredibly advanced state of cage boredom. And, again, I tried. I gave him plenty of toys to play with, a brand new wheel to run on, delicious food to snack on and hoard away from everything else. I soaked his toys in juice, hoping that it would encourage him to play with them. I made little treat puzzles, hoping he would start to figure out that he can chew on the cardboard. But no, he didn’t want any part of that. He couldn’t be left in a metal bar cage. All he wanted to do was chew and chew and chew on the bars. I put vinegar on them to try and discourage that behavior, but that didn’t help at all. So, we made him a brand new, beautiful bin cage. And it was beautiful. It had a big, open floor for him to run around, a brand new disc, plenty of hiding places, and I even built him a jungle gym to climb. And he seemed so happy with his new home, he even started playing with his toys.

I was so glad that finally, this little guy is starting to come around. He still wanted to chew on hands, but that didn’t matter. He was safe, he was happy, and he had a good home.

And now, he’s gone.

I found him at 1AM. I spent the next 30 minutes scrubbing out the bin, hoping to get rid of the smell before my daughter woke up.

And now, I’m sitting here, writing this. Just trying to get it off of my chest.

I don’t like it when I lose a pet, even if I never really got to hold them or be physically close to them. I don’t like having to explain this to my daughter. I don’t like that now, even as I’m writing this, I’m numb to the whole situation. I love that little guy, even though he was a jerk and the cause for several scars on my fingers. I love him.

I’m slowly coming to terms that I will eventually lose all of my beloved babies. Gerald is getting on in age, now. He’s showing plenty of signs of an elderly Syrian. Dr. Doofinschmertz sleeps all the time and I wonder how much longer he has left.

I wonder how many death posts I’ll have to go through.

How many hearts will stop in my home.

How many times mine will break.

My husband says that he’s done with rodents, that he can’t handle the pain. I can’t live in a home without animals.

I don’t know what will happen.

I’m going to go sing to Doof, now.

How was your day?