Arkansas hamster adventures

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

On The Way

By Olivia Fowler

My great niece and nephew, Brooke Olivia and Andrew O’Neal, ages 7 and 6 respectively, live in Fayetteville, Ark., with their parents, Laura and Neal. I just returned from visiting them and have seldom been so entertained.

Andrew, who just celebrated his birthday, has acquired a hamster, who bears the name of Sam Sayonara Simmons. Sam is a source of neverending entertainment for both children and resides in an attractive cage in the bonus room. He spends little time there.

Now hamsters are tiny creatures and can fit into the palm of your hand. Their fur is soft and silky, and holding Sam is like holding a very active cottonball.

Wal-Mart’s corporate office is located in Bentonville, Ark., and we had planned a visit to Mrs. Walton’s magnificent gift to the region, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Laura was getting ready and Andrew had carried Sam and the cage into the bathroom. Andrew asked if he could take Sam out of the cage to play with him on the bathroom floor. Laura gave permission, and Sam was removed from his cage. In a flash, he was gone. He’d run into a space between the vanity and the wall and had retreated to the very back.

I was downstairs with a magazine and heard an outburst of extremely high-pitched screams (Brooke) and anguished cries (Andrew).

I was afraid to go upstairs as the sound of some terrible crisis escalated, but upstairs I went anyway. I somehow knew Sam was involved, and my greatest fear was that he had been flushed down the toilet. Upon arrival at the bathroom door, I was met with the sight of Andrew stretched on the floor in despair and Brooke excitedly shouting suggestions to a harassed-looking Laura who was brandishing a pair of barbecue tongs.

Every time Laura tried to pull Sam out of his hidey-hole he retreated further. There was a flashlight in use, which gave us a view of a tightly ensconced hamster that seemed ready to spend the rest of his life in his new haven.

It was a bad scene. Andrew was not taking it well. He was inconsolable. He wanted to go immediately to the store to get another hamster. He said he didn’t want Sam anymore because “Sam doesn’t like me. He won’t come out.”

Laura asked, “But Sam will come out. What would you do with Sam if you got another hamster?”

“Brooke could have him. I don’t want him anymore,” was the reply.

Finally, in a stroke of genius, Laura sought help from Google, asking how to catch an escaped hamster. Google had the answer of course.

We were advised to secure all entries to the room where the hamster was, turn out the lights, bring the cage into the room, open the door to the cage, and put hamster food in the cage, making sure the room was quiet. We were told the hamster would voluntarily return to the cage if left alone.

So we did as instructed, loaded the children in the car and went to see Despicable Me II. Upon our return home, Brooke ran upstairs to check the bathroom. We heard a cry of victory and she reported that Sam was indeed safe inside his cage.

We breathed a collective sigh of relief.

When Neal came home from work, Laura asked Andrew to tell his daddy about the events of the day.

Andrew paused, then said, “Well, it’s a very sad story but it has a happy ending.”

He then told Neal that Mommy had told him to let Sam out of his cage in the bathroom and he ran away. Andrew then solemnly intoned in a voice filled with accusation. “It was all Mommy’s fault.”