Dear Jack: Our New Pet Hamster, Beta “Bear” Shell

10 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Two weeks. Two whole weeks.

That’s how long we made it as a family before we collectively decided we were ready to have a pet hamster again; after processing the loss of our first hamster, Alpha.

A conversation never had to take place as a family as to what our new hamster’s name would be.

Clearly, Alpha was the first… so Beta would be the second.

I think we are the perfect owners for Beta; as he didn’t get adopted until later. He is already about 6 months old, whereas Alpha was closer to 3 months old.

Beta is not as tame as Alpha was, but Beta is also a lot more independent. Not all hamsters have the same personality.

Who knows? Maybe Beta will eventually want to be held as much as Alpha did. But for now, he’s at peace just hanging out in his aquarium and playing in the cardboard mansions you make him.




Dear Jack: Saying Goodbye to Our 1st Family Pet, Alpha the Syrian Hamster

10 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

For your 9th birthday nearly 2 years ago, your main gift from Mommy and me was a Syrian hamster; who became our first ever family pet so far.

Every night since then, it has been part of our family routine and ritual, for me to get the hamster out of his aquarium and let you and your sister hold him and play with him, leading up to bedtime.

He even travelled multiple times with us to Alabama during the holidays.

Choosing a Syrian hamster was definitely the right decision for our family.

But as we knew from the beginning, a Syrian hamster has an average lifespan of only 2 to 3 years.

I hadn’t factored in the fact that they are typically 3 months old when they are sold at pet stores.

So it does make sense that as of this very month, our pet hamster Alpha turned 2 years old, which in hamster years, was more like 80 years old.

We spent of the 2nd half of last week sensing it coming, based on his weakened behavior. I appreciate that, though, because it gave us all time to say goodbye in his last final days.

During his final night, we helped him while he passed on, by all of our family petting him as he faded away.

We held a special funeral for him outside, as you took it upon yourself to play the theme song to “Mork and Mindy” (Alpha’s favorite song) and insisted that each member of our family toss a pistachio nut (Alpha’s favorite snack) into has grave, right before I placed the dirt on top of his body to bury him.

Sometimes, we have to collectively experience sadness to experience life.

Alpha allowed us to do that this past week- and for the past nearly 2 years, he taught us to care for and to love… a rodent.

A special rodent, who brought us all happiness as a family.

Alpha “Sniffer” Shell

August 2019 – August 2021