Sarah Wants a Hamster
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"You already have a cat," I said to Sarah. "Why do you want a hamster, too?"

"’Cause they're cute – and I want one."

Personally, I blame Hampton and the Hampsters. About a year ago, my eleven- year-old daughter, Sarah, was at a friend's house, searching for "how to dance" on the Internet. What came up, improbably, was the HampsterDance site link.

They clicked on it. Four furry cartoon "hampsters" did a little dance while sped up human voices sang in the background. The girls squealed with delight. Here are some lyrics from "HampsterDance":

Dee da dee da dee da do do
Dee da dee da dee da do do
Dee da dee da dee da do do
Dee da dee da dee da dee da dee

Naturally, she had to have the CD named Happy Times Ten. It turns out the hamsters have names, too: Hampton, Fuzzy, Hado and Dixie – two girls and two guys. Now we could hear the Hamspters all day, all night, all the time!

(If you remember Alvin and the Chipmunks, you know what this music sounds like. For a grown-up, a little Hampton goes a long way.)

Gradually, her interest spread from fictitious hamsters to real ones. A few of her friends had owned hamsters, Sarah told me. “Which friends?” I asked.

"Well, Abby had one, but it died."

"Oh, what a shame. Who else?"

"Alison had two, but they died."

Something made me wonder about these little guys. It seemed they were not destined to "live long and prosper." How would Sarah react when her little pet suddenly shuffled off this mortal coil? A shrug and a smile was her answer.

After weeks of deliberation, my wife and I decided that Sarah could have her hamster if she contributed to the cost. Then came the shopping. We got the hamster home (assembled by everyone, including her little brother), a hamster ball (they go inside) and a book, "Hampsters as a New Pet." Sarah read the book right away – a good sign.

The last step was to get the actual hamster. We had already been to Petco, but they were sold out. They said they'd call when the new hamsters came in. Sarah's going to name hers Spiff.

How will this harrowing hamster adventure turn out? Happy times ten, I hope.

Dee da dee da dee da do do.

Note: Spiff the hamster is now in my daughter's bedroom and is sleeping like a baby. This is because he spends all night exercising in his wheel, going up and down his tower, and running through tubes. If I installed a complete gym in there, he'd probably be doing cardio machines and pumping iron.

He really is cute, though. Light brown, roundish and fuzzy. You should get one.

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