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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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Losing a Little Friend

Our little hamster Sophie has grown old before her time and soon will no longer be with us.
A hamster, they say, will at best live a thousand days. Sophie hasn't had quite six hundred.
From the first day she came to live with us Sophie has been different. She looked over her four-story cage and decided the little house at ground level was not for her. She wanted her nest to be on the top floor and that meant sleeping on hard plastic and out in the open. I think that was because the spot she chose was right beside the tube she uses to crawl up to the top. That gave her a place to dive into if danger approached. There was nothing to fear, but she didn't know that.
When it became apparent that Sophie was adamant about where her nest was going to be, Jackie gave her a stack of shredded paper to keep the cold air from her. On cool days and nights, Sophie packs the tube with some of the paper to keep the cold away from that direction.
Jackie fixed one of the little houses up for her potty and placed it beside her nest. From the very first, a hamster will hurry to the potty when the need arises no matter how comfortable their nest might be or how busy they are doing something they enjoy.
For Sophie, a quiet little lady, contentment means having a large supply of food nearby. No matter how well-stocked the larder may be, she never has passed up an opportunity to beg for a special treat.
Sophie know that Jackie is the mommy who provides her with food, fills her water bottle and keeps her nest and potty fresh and clean. When she comes out in the evening she walks along the table and lies down facing Jackie. When Jackie gets up from her chair, Sophie keeps looking in the direction she has gone until she returns. She tolerates me because I sometimes give her a few sunflower seeds or one of the yogurt drops she loves.
Rolling around in her plastic ball has become too much for Sophie so Jackie gets down on hands and knees and lets her walk around on her own. Jackie's hand always hovers close by so Sophie doesn't get herself in trouble. Hamsters have a tendancy to do that whenever possible. Sophie also likes to watch TV and when there's a lot of action she moves closer for a better view.
Like all of her kind, Sophie keeps very clean. She licks her front paws and washes very thoroughly many times during an evening. Washing also is something little creatures do when in danger. By doing something routine they hope that by the time they have finished the danger will no longer be there. It's a vain hope, of course, but the only way a hamster, mouse or rabbit has to ease its fear even if just for a moment.
Now little Sophie has grown weak. Her hind legs no longer work the way they should. She has trouble climbing up to her nest. I believe she thinks it is only something temporary and her mommy will soon make everything better.
People who don't know about them tend to think little creatures don't amount to much and don't really matter. The truth is each of them is different and has its own personality just as humans do. To them their life is just as important as any human believes his or hers is important. They share the same emotions and have the same need and desire for the basic comforts.
I have never been sure if little animals know about death or think that life will always go on just as it has. They know fear, of course, but do they know the things they fear can mean more than just pain? I always hope they don't know life is going to come to an end some day. I hope Sophie doesn't know that. I hope she believes her little world will always be the same.
Humans know better, though, and that can hardly be considered a good thing. We watch Sophie, care for her as best we can, and know we will miss her when she no longer is here just as we miss all the little friends who were with us before her. We know the time to say goodbye is close at hand, and knowing it makes the time we have with her more precious.


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