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

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Tricked Us into Letting You Get a Pet Pine Lizard

9 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

You and I started a new routine last week: After I get back from the gym in the morning, you jump on your bike and join me as I go on a two mile run.

Last Saturday morning as we were heading out on our 2 mile excursion, we both noticed a very interesting lizard by the garage door. It looked really cool.

By Saturday afternoon, you set up an amusement park for it in the garage and had hand-tamed it.

By Sunday afternoon, I went to the pet store to buy some meal worms for the lizard.

By Monday afternoon, the lizard was officially living in the hamster’s travel case, in a corner in your bedroom.

And by Tuesday, we learned that Sargento the Pine Lizard was actually a girl.

You re-named her; Serenity.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

My New Hamster Dad T-Shirt: Fist Bumping “Best Friends for Life”

Over six months ago now, back on November 16th, 2019, my son turned 9 years old. To my own surprise (still to this day), I agreed to let him get a male Syrian hamster as a pet.

Obviously, that meant that on November 16th, 2019, my son didn’t become the proud new owner of a pet hamster. Instead, I became the extremely reluctant new owner of a pet hamster.

After the first couple of weeks, during the initial 30 days period where the pet store would allow us to get a full refund, my son officially decided he wanted to take his birthday present. My son wasn’t attached and he didn’t want the responsibility.

But I just couldn’t do that to the little guy… I am referring to the hamster, here.

So I did some research on YouTube and learned what I needed to know to be a good hamster dad.

I bought a 20 gallon aquarium, instead of the stupid plastic toy one we originally bought. I taught myself how to hand-tame the hamster. I learned the importance of helping the hamster live in a feng shui environment; regularly placing new cardboard boxes in the his tank, and hiding food throughout his home.

And of course, I take him out every evening when when he wakes up, to play with him. (Syrian hamsters are nocturnal.)

To me, it’s undeniable I have become the best hamster dad in the state of Tennessee.

So it only made sense that I should use some of my “birthday budget” (my wife and I are faithful Dave Ramsey followers) to buy a t-shirt to express how proud I am to be a hamster dad.

On Amazon, I found this really cool one that has a man and a hamster fist bumping, with the caption reading, Best Friends for Life.

There’s a built-in joke in there: Syrian hamsters typically only live to be 2 or 3 years old.

So my goal is to celebrate these next couple of years and give this hamster the best life a hamster can have!

If you want to buy a hamster t-shirt like mine, just click here to find the best deal on Amazon, like I did.

Dear Jack: Your New Pet Teddy Bear Hamster Named Alpha

9 years old.

Dear Jack,

Well, it happened. We did it.

Mommy and I let you get our family’s first ever pet.

You decided on a Teddy Bear Hamster who you named Alpha.

With this being our first week into it, as the nice helpful lady at Petco explained, it’s going to take several days for your hamster to get accustomed to our family.

So each day after school, as a family, we have been letting him out of his cage and so he can get used to us petting his back.

Hopefully soon, we’ll be at the point where you can easily pick him up and hold him.

I think this is a good thing for you!

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Holly: I Have Sort of Convinced You That a Rat Puppet is Actually Your Class Pet Dwarf Gerbil from Your School

2 years.

Dear Holly,

For the past couple of months now in your preschool class, you and your friends have enjoyed the presence of Gus Gus, a dwarf gerbil.

Each morning when I take you into the classroom, our immediate routine is to for me to lift you up to the cage so you can ask, “Gus Gus?”

That translates as, “Are you awake yet, Gus Gus?”

The answer is usually, “Well, now I am!” as we watch the wood chips move around and see two beady eyes looking back at us.

One morning we even walked in to see a clear blue plastic roll right across the floor as we opened the door, as Gus Gus raced to the other side of the room as part of his early morning exercise.

Gus Gus finds his way into daily conversations, too. I use him as an interesting subject to help you formulate sentences.

For example, anytime you see a pick-up truck now, you point, and proudly shout, “Truck? Truck! Truck!”

So from there, I started saying, “Gus Gus drives a truck?”

You obviously liked the concept, then decided to repeat that ridiculous thought.

Now anytime you see a pick-up truck, you know what to say to me:

“Truck! Truck! Gus Gus drive truck.”

It finally occurred to me as we were playing with your toys in the living room, to bring life to the rat puppet which I originally got right before you were born, as I was planning on it being a character in your brother’s superhero series on YouTube.

You were amazed to learn was Gus Gus secretly living in our house the whole time, but also that he could talk, and even say your name.

And even when you realized that you yourself could stick your hand into Gus Gus and control his mouth, you still were every bit excited to announce, “It’s Gus Gus!”

Love,

Daddy

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