Over the past two years we have loved and lost two pet hamsters ~ Chocolate Chip and Elsa. They filled our lives with love and joy while they lived, and when they met the end of their lives our hearts were filled with grief. The average life expectancy for most species of hamsters is 18 months, though we had hoped to keep Elsa living as long as two years. If we continue our habit of adopting hamsters every year and a half, we must learn to approach their impact on our lives as preparation for letting go.
Attachment and Healing from Loss
Zen Buddhism is famous for promoting the concept of non-attachment. In order to be an effective hamster parent, I believe that it is important to form a bond of attachment with our pets, but then readily let it go and heal from our grief when they die. Each time we adopt a pet hamster, it is important for us to form a loving bond with the individual critter that communicates to our pet that he/she is cherished. Such a bond is expressed through showing the animal appropriate measures of respect and affection, including consistent fulfillment of their physical needs: fresh water changed daily; a bowl full of food and chews, and a clean, stimulating cage environment.
When each hamster passed on, it was comforting for us to think about the concept of their little spirits crossing over a “Rainbow Bridge” to a special heavenly home. We buried Chocolate Chip and Lucky (my daughter’s previous pet, a blue beta fish) under the weeping willow tree on our property. We buried Elsa near our community labyrinth, with a little mausoleum of leaves, sticks and flowers built around her resting place.
We learned from the death of Chocolate Chip that in order for our hearts to heal, it was important for us to let go of our attachment to our former pet, then allow another hamster to fill our hearts. It took us a month to adopt Elsa last year. It has taken us five days to adopt Sammy Bear. She is such a merry little hamster that she wrapped her little paws around our hearts as soon as we laid eyes on her.
Each hamster that we have loved has taught us how to care for him or her, and for hamsters in general. We hope that this learning will keep each hamster we adopt strong and healthy for more months than the previous hamster. We heartily thank our furry friends for being such loving, patient teachers and will always hold them dear in our hearts.
Rumi Pippin, the youngest hamster addition to our family