Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goodbye, Hammie

Well I finally did IT. By my own hands.

I put the poor, suffering hamster to sleep. I'm not proud of it. I felt very sad.

It triggered when missus frantically called me and said Hammie scratched off a piece of the growth and it was bleeding all over.

Hammie had been suffering for >3 months from a large growth that had nearly covered its whole cheek (Refer to pix, see the growth in the left ear. That's about 1 month old only).

It started small - like some pieces of mini flesh antennae sticking out from the ear. I thought perhaps water had gotten into the ear and I did not think much of it.

But it grew... and grew... into a monstrous piece of disgusting brown tumor. The tumour sized a diameter of ~2cm (for a hamster it is actually quite big) before it's death. Ack!

The growth had entirely covered its left ear, all the way down to the underside of the cheek. The whole left ear was unrecognizable and had become part of the growth. And I didn't know hamsters can have tumours until I searched the internet about hamsters having tumours protruding from the ears.

And the right ear started to have these funny looking antennae too.

Hammie had lost a lot of weight during this period. He used to be fat and furry, but just before his death, there were patches of fur loss, especially behind his ears. He had also shrunk in size, with skin barely covering his bones. Though he still had a good appetite (he managed to finish his bowl), he never put on any weight.

Not only, he had a broken right leg for quite a while (see the right leg on pix). I don't know how it happened but I think Rachel closed the cage door on his leg while putting him back. Rachel liked to carry him around and pat him. Funny thing was Hammie actually survived and it was still actively running on his leg, er stump. His defunct leg was perpendicular to its body, attached only by the skin.

Now that's my feisty little hamster.

I had been contemplating the deed for the past 1 month. I hesitated for a number of reasons:

  1. Hammie had been with the family for close to 2 years. I had nurtured him since he was just a little baby hamster - washing his cage, cleaning him after his sand bath. I do take him out from the cage frequently to let him run around the house for exercise.

    When I stay up late at night to watch soccer (hamsters are most active at nights), I would bring him out and stroke his fur while watching the TV. He always liked me massaging his back with two fingers and tickling his underside/tummy.

    After a year, whenever I open his cage door and drum my fingers on the cage, he would run out into my waiting hand. He actually recognized my voice. Once he actually managed to push open the cage door and roamed the house at night. Talk about guard dog.

    So you can imagine the closeness I have with him.
  2. Being the ever prudent wife, missus was little concern about the vet cost of fixing the leg and/or putting Hammie to sleep. The truth is the cost is actually quite high. Approx $30 -$45 consultation fee, excluding medication/injection, whatever.

    She said that Hammie would not last long too. So I decided to wait for it to die a natural death.

    But it didn't. I actually prolonged its suffering.
  3. Rachel was still attached to Hammie. Okie, okie, I admit it. I couldn't bear to do it myself. It's quite scary to think of ways to 'dispose' the hamster.

Some suggestions/advice/ideas from friends:

  1. Flush into toilet bowl
  2. Drown it
  3. Put into plastic bag and let it suffocate
  4. Bury it alive

I did the clinical and swift way. I whacked it with the flat of a small stool.

First, I put Hammie in a small plastic bag and flattened it, making sure there is little air to act as cushion. Then I put it in another plastic bag, just in case the first one might burst.

I said goodbye and bham!

I thought I heard it squeal a bit. Perhaps it was saying goodbye too. Perhaps it was my imagination. Following up with an additional 4 strokes, I made sure it didn't. I opened up the second bag just to check. Yeah didn't think it could live through that.

I felt like crying when I threw it into the rubbish chute.

I could not bear to see you suffering silently
mom did when she had cancer, in pain
Three months, thank God, of suffering, agony
Final comfort, relief when He came
Goodbye Mom.

I can understand the agonizing pain daily.

Goodbye Hammie, dear friend, farewell...

PS. We have another baby hamster now, courtesy of missus' colleague. We named him Furrie. He's growing well and fat.


House of rabbits said...

can understand the pain of a loved pet - we went thro that painful period when dumb bit left us.
It's a real pity there is no garden to bury the poor guy.
I think he prob knows his time is up when you put him into the plastic bag.
There is a big discussion on euthanasia ( and I think Holland is one of the very few coutnries that permits it ).
Well, at least you guys have those nice pictures of Hammie to remember by.

mckenzy said...

bugger it...

Anonymous said...

poor thing the hamster. but no choice lah. wes

QQ*librarian said...

You could write a children's story book on your household's adventure with Hammie. I know it's quite sad, all those sufferings that Rachel put poor Hammie through, but you know, it is rather hilarious as well, the way you accounted the stories. :-) Serious. Wanna write a book for Rachel called "The Adventures of Hammie"?