Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh woe is Taco

Taco was sort of a birthday present. And you know that anyone who gives a birthday present that requires a ten year old boy to procure a live animal secretly hates that boy’s mother. Thanks a lot, Autumn.  But Taco was a nice enough rodent, he didn’t do much harm. He did his hamster thing, running in the wheel and enjoying fruit and whatnot. 

As I mentioned last month, Taco has been unwell as of late.  In fact, I had posted a plea on facebook to find out if anyone knew of a humane method to perform euthanasia on a small furry woodland creature. That query resulted in a couple of inexplicable “likes” along with great deal of advice ranging from the sweetly helpful to the downright disturbed, including: 
  • You can get ether from a pharmacist. You soak a cotton ball with the ether, put it in a container with the pet and the pet peacefully goes to sleep. It's very gentle, very kind and the pet is comfortable during the process.
  • My suggestion seems cruel compared to that.
  • Doesn't the US Supreme Court have to allow it first? Better get a good lawyer.
  •  A bucket of water...
  • I could make a Richard Gere crack here, butt I won't
  • can't you just let him go? the birds/cats/snakes would appreciate it, I am sure. use it as a circle of life teaching moment.
  • ferral cats gotta eat too. 
  • some people do just let dying animals free to fend in the wild (of the backyard), it's really not uncommon. And it's an easy way out. But, I don't think it's terribly kind
  •  I was gonna say hypothermia....Shoe box in freezer. It doesn't take long, I hear its painless, although I can't confirm that. Whatever box you use, don't make it clear, cause then the poor thing will want to get out - so dark box and in freezer.
  •  FYI...everything just slows down and they go to sleep. Obviously, eventually they turn into "hamster"cicles.
I’d like to think I could have maybe done one of these things... but when I imagined myself walking into a pharmacy asking for ether to kill my son’s pet hamster, I looked and sounded like a complete and total mental case. And when I imagined myself making room in my freezer for a box in which to freeze the poor guy, I just…. couldn’t. There are way too many hot pockets in there. Should I let it out to die at the jaws of a predator, likely the predator who had been stalking poor Taco since the day he came to live with us? Please. Just... please.

Aside: Ironically, just the other night I had the opportunity to witness what my dumb dog would do if faced with a dying rodent in her midst. There was a squirrel in our yard who was obviously not long for this world, either from poison or a fall or some other morbid cause, the thing was barely breathing, an easy mark for the ferocious canine, right? She did the equivalent of the classic lady-up-on-a-chair-shrieking, substituting a maniacal bark. She wouldn’t get near it, she just yelled at it. Dumbass. (thank God).

ANYWAY, Taco’s been hanging in there since I first posted about his decline back in April. We were giving him lots of his favorite treats, and because he was no longer able to exercise, he became quite portly.

The other night, I was making soup and I saved the inside of the celery bunch to give to Taco in the morning. I would have given it to him right then, but he already had a massive slice of watermelon and there was no call for gluttony. He was, after all, getting alarmingly portly.

Early the next morning, I went to give him the celery, and was greeted with a decidedly unusual sight. Taco’s feet were sticking up out of the top of his tunnel. The rest of him was inside said tunnel. And all of him was quite dead. He hadn't used the tunnel for as long as I could remember; he climbed the walls of his cage to get between levels! The tunnel was simply part of his decor. Deadly decor.

I ran and told Bill, and he got up and dealt with the situation. We have an unspoken agreement that he is in charge of all dead pets. We clearly faced a conundrum. Poor portly Taco was wedged in there but good. His condition did not lend itself to a peaceful tale of crossing the rainbow bridge at the gentle beckoning of his maker. There wasn’t time for a funeral in our pet cemetery, either. So we did what any parents would do. We stuck him in a box, tunnel and all, and stuck the box out by the trashcans to deal with later. Then we woke the kids up to start the day.

Once again, I brought my woe to the community of facebook by announcing that I was preparing to tell my kids that Taco had died. I was comforted and buoyed by several compassionate frowny faced comments from my tender hearted friends, along with this gem: "Our hamster died too! We were all quite happy, though. He was revolting."

I broke the news over breakfast. The kids took it quite well. Thankfully, they didn’t ask to see the body, and the conversation rather quickly advanced to talk of what fun Taco must be having up in heaven now that he could run on a metaphorical wheel and frolic with Morgan and Leo and Lizzie and Jiddo (sorry mom, but they’re your grandchildren and you did refer to Taco - and the revolting one -  as your grandhamsters).

I was reluctantly curious about how it was going to play out – would a funeral be expected? Open casket? What about the environmental impact of burying him inside the stupid tunnel? 

In the end, we had a funeral. It was a somber, quick, and low key event. The kids were distracted by the fact that it was dark out and we made them trudge through the underbrush with a flashlight and a shovel. The hole was pre-dug (thanks, Bill) so it was simply a matter of dropping poor, portly Taco in and sending him off to the great beyond with a few fond words.

Rest in peace, Taco. I'm sorry you had such an undignified passing, but at least it wasn't in the freezer.  



Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, poor Taco. And I think it's hilarious that one hamster is Taco and the other hamster -- his cousin -- is "the revolting one". Because no disrespect intended -- not one tiny bit -- but Taco sounds kind of revolting too...

Poor little guy, though. What a way to go. Gives the tern "toes up" a whole new meaning.....


Rita said...

Aw, I'm glad he passed on without assistance. He knew he was loved to the very end, what with the treats appearing regularly.

julie said...

monroe and I both just read your post on our respective computers, the office quiet interjected with alternating bursts of laughter as we read. if it's wrong to laugh while reading a post of an innocent animal's demise... then you shouldn't write so damn wittily, sistah. Great post, you are such a great writer. lol all the day about:

feral cats gotta eat too
open casket?
Mokie's equivalent of the classic lady-up-on-a-chair-shrieking
janes comment: "Our hamster died too! We were all quite happy, though. He was revolting.", thereafter deeming that said hamster "revolting one"
and I love the Gere reference. awesome.

I missed those 'helpful' Kervorkian posts you shared from Facebook- I'm so glad you didn't do the slow, cold kill, or set the sickly guy out to be prey, but the ether thing is interesting. I mighta tried that. But then you wouldn't have had this tale of death by hamster tunnel turned deadly sausage casing to share.

Mom C said...

I too loved the "open casket" remark... mom

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I can't believe there is no photo of the tunnel stuffed with portly hamster!!!

Great post!


Me, You, or Ellie said...

I really wish there was a "like" button for comments. Except YOU, Ellie! Calling my little tumor-ridden, obese rodent revolting. The nerve!

love you peeps