Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

She was just a tiny friend, but her loss is a big blow

We buried Zoe today. No big loss, many people would say. After all she was just a hamster. Something for kids to play with, then toss aside when they grow tired of it. But they're wrong, those people who feel that way. A hamster may be tiny but one becomes as much a part of your life as a dog or a cat or any other creature you welcome into your home.
Zoe was with us for two years and that's about par for the course with a hamster. They don't know that, of course, so they think it will just go on forever and ever. That's for the best because they are happy little animals that like to sleep all day and play all night. You wouldn't want them to know that one day it will all come to an end.
Zoe was our thirteenth hamster. She tolerated Joey, the fourteenth, but kept close watch to make sure he wasn't getting more treats than she was. She learned to beg by watching her predecessor, Sadie, and became an expert at it. She'd stand on her back feet and paw at the bars on her cage with her front ones, the ones she'd use as hands, and it was hard to just walk on by and ignore her. She loved to eat so at intervals throughout the day you could hear her nibbling on those hard little pellets they thrive on. She had an old bone she liked to knaw on and sometimes she'd carry it from one floor of her cage to another or even try to make it fit in her house. She'd really get excited, though, when you gave her a couple of sunflower seeds or a dried raisin. Then around our bedtime Jackie would give each of them a small piece of carrot, lettuce, apple or grape. Zoe's were put in a little box on the top floor of her cage so she'd make several trips up there during the evening to see if the good stuff had arrived yet.
It seemed fitting, I suppose, that when she died Zoe had a little piece of one of those pellets in her mouth.
Zoe came home with us from a pet shop because she was being picked on by a hamster bully. Jackie felt she had to be rescued. I said it would work out the same if we took the bully with us, but that wouldn't do at all.
Hamsters are great escape artists but Zoe waited until the last week of her life to stage her only breakout. It wasn't a breakout, really, because she was walking around loose on a coffee table as all hamsters enjoy doing. Neither of us noticed that Zoe had jumped down to the floor and vanished. When we did start looking for her she came out from a hiding place as soon as she heard Jackie's voice. After that she received a lengthy back massage, something else she enjoyed, so that may have been the motive behind her disappearing act.
So now Joey won't have anyone to visit when it's his turn to run loose on the table. But then in a week or two Jackie will decide it's time to make another trip to the pet shop and he'll have company again.
That doesn't mean we'll forget Zoe. Not anymore than we'd forget Sadie or Chigger, our first hamster, or any of those that came between. Each hamster has its own personality so when you get to know them they are as different as dogs or cats or humans. So the next arrival won't replace Zoe, she'll just be a new friend to learn to care about.
Now Joey's not the kid any more, he's the patriarch. He's a wild and crazy little guy that loves to show off and be the center of attention. As Sadie tolerated Zoe and Zoe tolerated him, he'll look upon the newcomer with suspicion, then come to tolerate her. But all too often I'll laugh at his antics, then recall those two or three years that a hamster lives and be glad he doesn't know about that.
And now and then we'll talk about Zoe just as we talk about all those that came before her. Yes, Zoe, we'll remember you. And miss you.

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