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, March 10, 2009

How Much Different Are We?

There are times when I look at little Sophie as she goes about doing the things she enjoys and I'm glad she doesn't know that like all hamsters she been allotted a maximum of a thousand days of life. Keeping clean and looking as nice as possible is important to a hamster so when I watch her taking one of her many daily baths or as she digs around in her cage hoping to find a tasty morsel she has overlooked, I know she thinks it will go on that way forever.
But hamsters suffer the same afflictions as people. Over the years, our sixteen have died of cancer, sudden heart attacks and anything else you can name. The worst fate of all awaited Joey, the most outgoing, fun-loving one of all. He was tiny even for a hamster, perhaps because he used up so much energy. Joey didn't believe that anyone or any thing could possibly want to hurt him. He liked it when someone would stroke his back and he was so trusting that while Jackie ran her fingers over him he would fall asleep while lying in the palm of her hand.
Joey loved to explore. He liked to climb up long tubes to see where they would lead and his favorite was the one in a play area that took him to a small tower room. The tube twisted and turned and had a steep area to climb, but Joey did it at full speed. He also enjoyed racing through a short, curved tube in his cage that ended up close to the place it started.
On nights when I had trouble sleeping and would come out and sit near him, Joey would wait by the short tube in a place where I could see only the top of his head, his eyes and his little Mickey Mouse ears sticking straight up in the air. He'd watch me until I said, "Go, go, go, Joey!" and then he'd race through the tube. Then he'd sit and stare at me until I said it again and off he'd go. He never tired of it so the game ended only when I went back to bed or dozed off in the chair.
When Joey was out rolling around in his plastic ball and wanted to go into the play area, he'd stop beside it and wait for one of us to take the lid off the ball. Once that happened, he'd hurry to the long tube and climb up to the tower room. Some days he' do it over and over again. If he grew tired, the room was a fine place for a nap.
Then one day I notice that his right back leg was dragging behind him as he ran happily about. It was the first indication that Joey had ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease. Life moves fast for a hamster so day after day it grew worse. He'd still manage to go up to the tower room, determined not to give up even though it got harder and harder for him. Finally he no longer could make it, and then just getting into the little house where he slept became too difficult. For two days he slept in the open near the cage's door, unable to move at all. Jackie would talk softly to him, stroking his back and helping him get a drink of water. It was tough for us to lose the little guy, yet it was good when he no longer was able to even draw a breath.
They say the DNA of one of those tiny creatures is 90 per cent the same as that of a human. Sometimes it seems more than that because they love life as much as any person and have nearly identical likes and dislikes, just on a smaller scale. And it is the same exact afflictions that bring their short lives to an end.


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