Alas, Poor Eric, I knew Him Well

Eric Enjoying the Party (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Eric Enjoying the Party
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Poor Eric the hamster has gone, flown off to Hamster Heaven he has.  I didn’t think he looked very good a couple of  nights ago, not very lively.   Having owned several hamsters over the years, we can always tell when they are starting to age as their faces start to look a bit ‘old horse-ish’.  As in long, narrow and a bit bony.  Well, Eric definitely had the ‘old horse-ish’ look about him for some weeks. He just wasn’t himself.

Out of all the hamsters we have had, and we’ve had a few, I have to say that I think Eric was my personal favourite.  He was the only one I felt comfortable holding, he never bit me, never peed on me and would sit up in my hands, brushing his sweet little paws over his ears and face as he cleaned himself.  Everybody say ‘Ahhh’…

A bit different to the first hamster we had, my eldest son’s first.  He decided to name him ‘Lemmy’.  This was in honour of the lead singer of the heavy metal band Motorhead.  His Dad’s influence, don’t ask. Lemmy was a bit rough and ready, liked a bit of head banging, except he couldn’t sing.

(Just to clarify, I am talking about the hamster here and any comparisons made with the ‘real’ Lemmy are completely unintentional.)

Lemmy kept escaping and I discovered that he had made a little bed at the bottom of my son’s duvet by ripping a corner of it into lovely shreds.  Bending down to pick him up after one such excursion, as I reached down to grab him from between the wall and the bed, he rose up, hissed up me and planted his very sharp front tooth into my finger.  I didn’t like Lemmy.

After that, having spent years begging me for a pet rat and then wearing me down pursuading me to get one (you know my feelings about rats from my previous post) I agreed to let him give it a try.

Well, I have to say, he did his homework and pet rats are very intelligent, clean and friendly pets. Just don’t get them near me.  However, the first pet rat proved to be a bit of a disaster.  My son adored the film ‘Jurassic Park‘ and so, it was only natural that he named his rat ‘Raptor’.  Well, he lived up to his name alright. This thing was vicious and nobody could handle it.

Back to the pet shop went Raptor.

He was replaced with a lovely ‘Blue’ rat called, well, Blue and my younger son, not to be left out, acquired Snowy.  Snowy was white, naturally.  I did grow to love their sweet little eyes and faces but couldn’t stand their tales.   The kids were constantly hounding me to try, just once, to handle their beloved pet rats but I just didn’t have it in me.

My dear readers, you feel my pain, don’t you??

Blackie the Hamster (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Blackie the Hamster
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Then my daughter finally got her very own pet hamster.  A sweet little Teddy Bear Hamster (so called because of the shape of the ears, like a Teddie Bear’s) called Blackie.   You don’t have to guess the colour of this one. (The names became more inventive over the years I might add). The next hamster was called Puddles (because he peed everywhere whenever he was out of his cage) and then there was Negi.

Aspie Daughter was going through her Japanese Manga and Anime stage at the time.  Poor Negi.   He only lasted 6 months.  One day he didn’t come out of his toadstool house and well, that was it.  Daughter was away at the time visiting her Dad.  Great.

A few years went by before she decided to replace him and that’s where Eric came in.

So here we are.  Once again, hamster-less.    I do feel quite sad, I admit.  I’ll miss the sounds of Eric’s little wheel going round and round endlessly, night after night.  Well, perhaps not that part.  Isn’t it crazy how even just a tiny hamster becomes part of the family? I’ve had a long chat with the cats and told them both that they have to make sure to live  extraordinarilly long lives. They have promised they will do their very best.

Eric - Never Forgotten (c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Eric – Never Forgotten
(c) copyright Sherri Matthews 2013

Poor little Eric will be buried in the back garden.  As we take the time for a few moments of quiet reflection on Eric’s short but sweet life, I will remember another Eric, the slightly more famous comedian, Eric Sykes,who took part in a live tribute to the incomparable Spike Milligan, on whose gravestone  is written this enduring epitaph:

‘I told you I was Ill’.

Goodbye Eric, we will miss you.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, Family Life, Humour, Pets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Alas, Poor Eric, I knew Him Well

  1. So sad – we’ll make sure he gets a suitable epitaph – poor Eric what a little sweetheart he was!!

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  2. Rachel says:

    RIP Eric. I understand your loss. We recently had to say goodbye to our beloved dog after 13 years and it was gut-wrenching.

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks Rachel. Despite the light-hearted feel of this post I do feel really sad about Eric. So sorry about the loss of your lovely dog, I know just what it’s like and I really feel for you, they are part of the family. Boy, have we gone through that wringer too, having had two labs growing up with the kids since puppies and then having to say goodbye after 14 years. I think I’m getting more sentimental as the years go by!

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  3. Lesley Dawson says:

    Lol, Sherri, that was a funny but beautiful account of the hamsters and rats in your family’s life. God Bless Eric Sykes and his lovely sense of humour, even up till the end. That’s a shame about your little Eric. I know they don’t live long enough. I once had a hamster called Wolfie, after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and he only lived about three years. The photograph of Eric is lovely – it looks like he’s praying. 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks Lesley. Gotta love Eric Sykes 🙂 Yes, I do love that photo of Eric, he is on the back of my hand and since I thought that a close up photo of me would be too much to handle, lol, I cropped it so as to show off Eric’s good looks. He does look like he is praying doesn’t he? My daughter had him wrapped up in tissues and made a soft bed for him and kept watch over him until he took his last breath!!!!
      I love that name, Wolfie. How cute. That is the problem with hamsters though, they don’t live very long. Eric was about 2.

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  4. Heyjude says:

    My grandson had a hamster called Nibbles – he was very good at escaping from his cage. He did so one day and has never been seen since! Mice, rats, hamsters hold no appeal for me I’m afraid, but I do like rabbits and guinea-pigs 🙂
    RIP Eric.

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  5. Oh, Sherri, I absolutely loved this. What a fitting tribute to little Eric. I must tell you that as a teacher, I always had classroom pets…and by far, the favorites were the rats. Had them up until the year the pet store made a mistake and gave me a preggers female, who gave birth to 8 little babies. What a year that was! And what an education for my 4th graders! Luckily, they all got adopted by my students who begged to take them home. After snakes, lizards, frogs and like, i must say rats were my favorite…up until Eric. 😉

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    • Sherri says:

      Wow, an education for sure! That must have been quite something for your 4th graders, they must have absolutely loved that! Ha, your classroom sounds like my house when the kids were growing up, we literally had all of those you mention and my daugther still has her snake Charlie. I think I probably end up posting more about all our pets than anything else because of all the stories attached to them!
      Thanks so much Susan, glad you enjoyed reading this post and how sweet of you to say that about Eric…he really was quite a special little hamster 🙂

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  6. That’s sad! I remember when my son’s rabbits died, we both cried a river!

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  7. Denise says:

    Lovely post and a fitting tribute to a lovable sounding pet – warm and funny.

    Weird that hamsters and rats have different personalities. Eric definitely sounds like one of the best.

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    • Sherri says:

      Aww, thanks Denise, glad you enjoyed reading it. Yes, Eric was special, I felt really bonded to him. My daughter often used to bring him down in the evenings (his cage was in her room) so we could have a little play. Silly, but true 😉

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  8. jennypellett says:

    The only brush I’ve had with a hamster was years ago when it was my son’s turn to look after the class one for the weekend. After watching him for about twenty minutes scuttling around his cage, my son got bored and paid the little rodent no more attention.
    Since then he’s had stick insects and goldfish but I don’t think either of these qualifies us as an animal loving family.

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    • Sherri says:

      My turn now, LOL!! Well you know Jenny, they could be classified as pets. Maybe not warm, furry and cuddly ones, admittedly, but hey, they lived with you, right? We always had fish too but I don’t ‘do fish’ as in clean out the tank. Can’t bear it. Although I have to say that stick insects are the one ‘pet’ we’ve never had, believe it or not, so you have me there 😉

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  9. Hedwigia says:

    Oh, I agree about rats! It’s those tails – ugh. Though I did manage to rat-sit for a friend a couple of times when they were on holiday, and I almost began to see their better side. Not too keen on the yellow teeth either. Ooooooooooo. We had rabbits and guinea pigs when our girls were small. Guinea pigs make wonderful chirruping noises, but they don’t do very much else, and they tended to end up being looked after by me.

    And you’ve not missed much with stick insects. We were given some, and I think it was when one escaped and got stuck in my youngest’s hair that she developed her phobia for creepy crawlies. Very, very boring beasts, in my opinion.

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    • Sherri says:

      OOOOh, that would send me crazy to have a stick insect in my hair. I really don’t like creepy crawlies of any kind. Once, as a young girl, I was paralysed with fear in my bed when I saw a grasshopper in my bedroom and I was too terrified to leave my bed and call for help so I just lay all night under the covers!! This is the problem with these caged pets for our children, we end up doing the looking after but I refused with the rats and the fish.
      Thankfully my daughter, now being an adult, is totally responsible for all her pets’ care but I am happy to look after the cats!!! Thanks Hedwigia for sharing your pet stories 🙂

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  10. parrillaturi says:

    This is such a beautiful story. I’m a pet lover, mostly cats. I will not have another pet.You get too attached, and when that day arrives, the loss is just too heart wrenching. I’ve experienced too many of these in the past. My hat goes off to you, for your devotion to such pets. We need more pet lovers, and less abusers. Blessings.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much, from one pet (especially cats!) lover to another. It is so true what you write, our pets really do break our hearts at the end don’t they? I can’t bear to think of it but knowing that while they lived with us they were well cared for, safe, happy and loved and givers of love, can bring us great joy (and sometimes a little frustration 😉 ) then it makes it worth it. Bless you for sharing your love of pets here 🙂

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