My brother and I had a couple of hamsters as pets when we lived in Germany. They were our first mammalian pets up to that point. Like most kids, I had owned a few goldfish earlier in life– but they always died soon after I acquired them. I guess maybe I’m not a fish person… I dunno. But LIKE most kids, we wanted some furry, warm blooded pets. Our own little friends that would be there for us to say “GOOD MORNING!” to first thing each day. And so, first came ARCHIE– who soon had the longer name ARCHIE BULGY BEAR (’cause he had really fat cheeks). And I’ve always had a penchant for screwing up words and names into stupid nicknames– so he was soon called “ARCHIE BARGY BEAR”. Maybe one hamster wasn’t enough for us– or maybe we each had to have our own little guy– but soon another another addition was made to the hamster clan– this one named FRISKY… because he was particularly wiggly and interested in moving and getting out of his cage. The hamster duo was a lot of fun to play with and brought many hours of enjoyment to my brother and me each day. They lived in separate cages and never met, however. At least not at first. That was a good thing, as it turned out.

I had the brilliant idea that it would be great to take them outside and give them a taste of fresh air and sunshine. I thought it would be fun to see them frolic in the grass out in front of the apartment building. My parents were rather dubious about this– fearing that what eventually came to pass was a distinct possibility– but I was very persuasive, and so they relented. So, one fine bright morning, we took ARCHIE and FRISKY out front, put them down in the grass on either side of the walk leading to the street– and let them go. They immediately spun toward each other, glowered, and charged to meet on the walk for a good old fashioned knock down, drag-out throw-down. I was completely shocked that these little cuddly, (seemingly) innocuous, furry creatures would go at each other like a couple of diminutive buzz saws. There was much growling and biting– and in my stunned disbelief, I instinctively put my hand in between them to break up the melee.

That was a mistake.

They had thick fur to help deflect the gnashing, gnarling teeth they were utilizing and so didn’t really do too much damage to each other– but all I had was my tender little 9 year old flesh. I got a huge gash on my thumb from ONE of them… I’m not sure who did it…. but it was a good, deep cut. It immediately started to bleed profusely, which alarmed my parents. They snatched each combatant up by their respective tails and hustled us all back inside. ARCHIE and FRISKY went back to the safety of their cages, and my folks tended to my wound. We NEVER let the two little rodents get anywhere near each other after that.

Hamsters don’t have very long lives, and ARCHIE BARGY BEAR died several months later. Don’t know why– maybe it was just his time. But FRISKY…. he managed to escape from his cage for a while after ARCHIE had passed on and make his way into the walls of the apartment– and eventually down to the basement storage area where we eventually recaptured him. I think I had a hand in his escape– but that’s kind of fuzzy in my memory. FRISKY died, I think, of a broken heart not long after being caught. I guess he tasted freedom and couldn’t stomach that little cage anymore. Running on the wheel couldn’t compare to running free in our building.

I still thing about those two little hamsters from time to time, so I thought I’d share.


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