Here it is, just after midnight on August 1st, and Hamster Deathwatch 2010 drags on.
Just before we went on vacation, S'more had what seemed to be a stroke. It was pretty clear that she couldn't see well (or rather, that she couldn't see as well as she'd previously seen, which wasn't very good, hamsters not known for their stellar sense of sight), and she staggered a bit when she moved around.
We kind of had even odds laid that she wouldn't make it to the end of our vacation.
But she was hanging on when we returned, and looked pretty much as she'd looked when we left.
Things have taken a bit of a turn for the worse the last 2 days.
This morning, she managed to haul herself out of her little tissue-paper nest, but then she just kind of rolled onto her side, and was stranded, somewhat like a turtle on its shell. The old "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercial came to mind.
Kelly, such a soft heart, wondered what we could do to help S'more, so I just suggested we get a magic bag, and warm it slightly, and hold her in our warmed hands for a while this morning after we got our two batches of company to the airport. I got through a bunch of my DVR'd TV backlog from the vacation while S'more curled up on my warm hands and breathed shallowly. She was so cold, I couldn't imagine how she was still hanging on. My mind strayed on a few occasions to nasty places, but I will blame my current bedtime reading of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" for sending me to thoughts of cold-blooded Zombie Hamsters.
When we finally had to get on with our day, I set S'more up with a little tea-towel nest that she couldn't fall out of, and wished her well.
An hour ago, I checked her. She was cold and still. I went to get a little box to put her body in, and when I came back to her cage, she shuddered and started breathing again when I petted what I thought was her corpse. I imagine it will be all over in the morning.
Kelly has had a chance to really pre-grieve this hamster, and I can see the future-vet starting to appear, as she came by the cage several times today, and just quietly said "S'more, you had a good life. You need to go now." without getting all choked up. Just before bed, she checked in on her, and said "Well, I think S'more is mostly gone now." in a most matter-of-fact way. If she is serious about the whole vet business, she''s already well on her way to developing a bit of a thick skin when it comes to pet deaths, which I think will always be difficult.
I just checked in on S'more again. Still as stone, but when I say anything, she takes a breath. A quiet night may be all she needs to stop the effort of breathing.
And then there will be three.