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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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Our Little Friend Joey

From the first day he came to live with us, Joey was a happy little guy. He explored all four floors of his cage and you could see that he was thinking it was a great place for having fun. There even was a little house that was all his own and wouldn't have to be shared with those other hamsters back at the pet store.
We discovered right away that he was a little showoff who loved to run up and down tubes and dart from place to place, stopping every little while to make sure someone was watching. He knew what his potty was for, too, and began using it that first day. And like all hamsters, he took a lot of baths because he liked to be clean.
Joey was pleased when Jackie would pick him up and talk to him very quietly. He enjoyed having his back gently stroked, too. Sometimes as he listened to her soft voice his eyes would slowly close and he'd be fast asleep in the palm of her hand.
Rolling around from room to room in his plastic ball was a favorite pastime. When he was off somewhere and Jackie would call, "Joey, Joey," he'd come rolling down the hall as fast as his little legs could propel the ball, then stop at her feet and look up to see why she wanted him.
There was a circular tube extending out from the top floor of his cage and that was his favorite place for playing games. He'd look over to where I was sitting, his little Mickey Mouse ears straight up so he could hear everything. He wouldn't move until I'd say, "Go, go, go Joey!" and then he'd race through the circular tube as fast as he could, usually three or four times. Then he'd sit and watch me as he had before until I'd tell him to go, go, go again.
But hamsters provide an accelerated view of human life because at best they live a thousand days, usually a couple of hundred less than that. Joey has been part of the family for more than two years now. One day in early July we noticed that his right rear leg seemed to be just dragging along behind him as he'd run about. After a couple of weeks the other one began dragging, too. He still could climb the tube to the top floor but the go-go tube was too much to even try. Sometimes he'd sit looking up at it as if wondering why it seemed so much farther away.
The day came when even getting into his little house was too big a challenge so Jackie fixed a wide-mouth plastic coffee container for him. Then even that became too much for him and he began sleeping in the open. He didn't notice that the top three floors of his cage had been removed. Jackie put extra bedding on the floor so he could burrow into that and be comfortable. He still always used his potty and took baths but sometimes he'd fall on his side or back and have to be helped up.
For the past few days he hasn't been able to even do those little things, and his eyes won't open so he can't see. He runs one front paw over the side of his face, that's about all the washing up he can manage, and he can't make it to the potty. Jackie cleans him up and talks to him very softly and you can tell he appreciates it. He still loves to eat, though, and gets thirsty so Jackie holds his water bottle for him.
Watching him curled up sleeping, I believe he thinks that when he wakes up everything will be okay again and he'll be able to see and run up and down like he did before. Little creatures don't realize they have been allotted such a short time to live, or at least I don't think they do. Joey may not think he has become a burden and if so he is right about that. The good times he provided for us, the joy he brought to our lives, keeps caring for him as the end nears from being a burden at all.


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