I admit: I am not a dog person. Nor am I a cat person. I like dogs and cats, just not enough to become personally responsible for their survival and/or livelihood.
So beyond caring for my wife and kids, what living creature do I have enough capacity left to care for?
I’ve got just enough left in me for… a rodent.
Specifically, a Syrian hamster.
When my son turned 9, over a year ago, he wanted a hamster.
It became immediately obvious, the moment we brought him home from the pet store, that Alpha was going to be my pet instead.
To be clear, back in November 2018, I knew nothing about hamsters.
So, thank you YouTube.
I learned that we needed to buy an aquarium for him to live in, instead of the “cute” hamster cages they sell at the pet stores where you buy the hamsters.
I learned how to hand-tame him.
I also learned that Syrian hamsters, being nocturnal and solitary animals, typically bond with one specific person in the household; in the likeness of a dog respecting the authority of the calm assertive pack leader.
Every night after the kids get ready for bed, I take the hamster out to let him crawl around in my hands, as I create my own version of a hamster wheel for him.
That’s when the kids like to take turns petting the hamster; which is the extent of their involvement with him.
While we are able to leave him alone at our house for a weekend, Alpha gets to go to Alabama where we stay at my parents’ house for Christmas vacation; which was for a week and a half in 2020.
This year, Alpha enjoyed crawling around in the Christmas wrapping paper- and feasting on Pistachios.
Syrian Hamsters typically don’t live more than 3 years.
That means that this year, in 2021, the year I turn 40, Alpha the Syrian Hamster will be officially experiencing the start of his midlife crisis along with me.