Many of our family pets are caged, but tame enough to come out for a romp or two to keep life from getting boring. I personally feel that this simple fact helps the pet live longer than its predetermined life expectancy. Recently, we considered a new role of responsibility by getting our daughter her first pet hamster. This was going to be a bit tricky since we were pretty certain that hamsters were among the furry creatures that aggravated my husband's allergies. So, the hamster and his cozy cage actually fit very nicely and comfortably into my daughter's open closet area away from the cold drafty window.
The Blessings of having and caring for a Pet
We were very lucky because this angel ended up being super tame, cuddly, and loving. My daughter gracefully took on the responsibility of letting us know when she needed more food, and water. We could even trust her to take her sweetie pie out of the cage unsupervised for intermittent play through the late afternoon and evening. It was really a sight to behold. So as you may have already concluded from this blog title, the angel of pet death as recently visited our home for my daughter's beloved sweetie pie.
When things just don't seem quite Right
Sweetie Pie wasn't discovered until after my daughter got home from school the next day. She went to the cage as always, and looked int to notice her sleeping curled up (in a disfigured kind of way) in a different than normal spot in her cage. I can only assume that at this point; my daughter, as always, went into the cage to awaken the sleeping beauty only to realize that sweetie pie no longer responded to my daughter's gentle touch. From the time my daughter gets home from school, and when I return from work is a 60-minute gap. When I finally arrived home, one of the first things I do is my daily check-in with my daughter to see how school went, and find out how she's doing overall. The first words out of her mouth, "Mom, I need to tell you something about sweetie pie and we shouldn't tell daddy!" If there weren't any red flags, bells and whistles were going off now. She continues to tell me that Sweetie Pie didn't wake up when she tried to play with it. Uh oh!
"Sweetie Pie's dead, right Mom?"
How unfortunate that my child had go through this first experience with death! After we ceremoniously wrapped her up, my daughter was a completely wreck for at least an hour. Instead of being insensitive telling her to get over it, I thought it would be a good time for her to get in a good cry. Although it breaks my heart to see her crying so violently, I took this as an opportunity to cuddle and hug upon my lap reassuring her that it was absolutely, 100% OK to be sad and cry when a friend we love goes to heaven. At this point, she's only 7, and will have plenty of time to figure out the evils and hellish ways of the world.
As a parent and caregiver, how did you deal with your child's first animal death? Did the family fish Goldie get flushed and replaced before they found out?
We did make the classic parenting mistake and get another hamster (short-hair) to replace our dear Sweetie Pie. That was a huge mistake! The poor short-hair died 2 days later not making it out of the adjustment phase that happens from store to home. Small pets will be on-hold for the time being. Thankfully, my daughter wasn't too broke up about the replacement hamster, Boris!
Read an alternate published version of this blog post at Yahoo! Voices ~ JK