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Family Matters: Hannibal the Hamster


When I was in second grade, I wanted a pet more than anything.

According to my parents, I’d had one, a dog, when I was…oh, two years old. Who remembers a dog from when they were two?

I mean, I had vague recollections of a dog named Flip, whom I somehow recount was party to me tumbling down the basement stairs as a toddler, but I wanted a pet I could…well, pet. And love on. And take care of.

I’m not sure how the whole hamster idea came into play.

I do remember a book, about a hamster, named Hannibal. So when I finally got a hamster who had a cool cage and awesome tunnels and a wheel and all that, I named him Hannibal.

One morning I woke up and Hannibal was not in his cage.

My mom gently broke the news that Hannibal had died overnight.

We buried him in a very formal ceremony in a shoe box lined with the white and pink rosebud flannel that matched my nightgown.

Who knew this breed of hamster hibernated during cold months?

Not me!

Not my parents!

I didn’t find this out until years later. (Nor did they, in their defense.)

I mourned that silly hamster for weeks. I didn’t want a new pet for years.

Point being, pets pass.

And as the saying goes, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”


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