Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It's Hamster Time! (Don't Touch That!)

Can I just say that a hamster never really struck me as much of a pet, nevermind a pet that could be spoiled!

Yet, somehow, our hamster is just that. How, you ask, can a hamster be spoiled? Well, I respond, just go to any pet superstore and check out the hamster offerings. And then imagine my son in that same aisle, pulling one thing off the shelf after another, in an attempt to get something for Cara's little Luv-bee, the hamster. A hamster that is virtually ignored by Cara, and adored by Ryan. Hence the three hamster wheels, the hamster tunnel/climber, the yogurt chip treats, the berry-flavored treat, the "burger" vegetable treats. I could go on, but I'm scaring myself.

We were heading out to go to a park Sunday, when Ryan pointed out that Luv-bee needed a new hamster ball, which, if you've never seen one, is a plastic ball with air vents that you put the hamster in so it can roll around your house. If you just let the hamster run without the safety of the ball,
a) you could step on it;
b) it could burrow into the back of your sofa and set up camp for a year or so, living happily on the popcorn remnants left by the bereft children who are too woeful to care where the popcorn falls (or they're too busy watching Jimmy Neutron to care...whichever.)

Little Luv-bee (whose name and spelling were bestowed by Cara) needed a new ball because the first one got a crack in it from someone (Cara) trying to tighten the lid by turning it the wrong way. The righty-tighty rule is lost on some people.

Anyway, we go to NJ Pets, and in Hamster Area Number One, which is loaded with hamster houses, hamster bedding, hamster hay, and hamsters, Ryan and Cara came up with the idea of buying Luv-bee a new playground replete with tunnels, climbing contraptions, and an attached Extreme Wheel. For $70.

"It's cheaper to let her run loose in the bathroom with the door shut. Forget it," I said. "Let's just get the ball and get out of here so we can go to the park."

Now, mind you, it was 3:30 when we got there. We had stopped at a couple of open houses in town, just to see what we either couldn't afford or what we wouldn't buy if our lives depended on it. That killed some time.

So there we were in NJ Pets petting people's dogs, looking at the ferrets, arguing the merits of luxe hamster playgrounds, when I realized the clouds were getting that pinkish gold getting-ready-for-the-sun-to-set look. We didn't have time for any more fooling around.

Before I could leave with the new ball, Ryan bolted for Hamster Area Number Two. Here, is where the 10 brands of yogurt chips, 15 brands of berry treats, assorted vegetable treats, hollowed limbs, huts, wood chew toys, brushes, sand baths, bed cushioning and more was available for the pampered hampster. In fact, that's the name of the new store we're opening. We'll be reaching a neglected consumer that requires a higher level of service.

After, as usual, saying no to the 32 or so items Ryan and Cara tried to get me to buy, including a new goldfish, which has nothing to do with hamsters but what the heck?, we finally got to the check out line. Where Ryan got bummed when I wouldn't let him get a doggie key chain, and Cara hopefully held up a Scottish Terrier doormat, which I was desperately trying not to emulate.

Finally, we busted loose and headed to the park, one we'd never been to before but had heard good things about. It's a cool place with lots of wood climbing equipment, swings, a bouncing rubber bridge, a wooden plank bridge, a tire climber, a tire tunnel.

"Luv-bee would love it here!" Ryan yelled.

Don't even tempt me....

--Catherine Schetting Salfino