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Good Bye Shiro

On Friday November 13 at around 1:30 a.m. Japan Time, I found Shiro lying on her side under her favorite big wheel in the green cage. When I touched her, she was cold and didn’t respond at all. I thought she was dead, but Hero Material said she was still breathing.

He took her out of the cage and held her gently between his hands. They’re almost always warmer than mine, and we thought maybe if we could make her warm again, she’d be okay.

After all, that courageous hamster had fought and won against many illnesses.

I still remember the first time I saw her in a local pet store. She was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen: pure white except for the soft velvety gray ear tips and gorgeous sparkling black eyes. She lived in a small glass cage with Kuro. We were initially going to get only one hamster, but I thought maybe she’d be lonely by herself. So we bought Kuro as well.

They were my first pets. That night as they were playing in their new cage with a wheel (their old one didn’t have one) I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. They were hilarious, active and utterly adorable. I was in love.

Subsequent discovery that Kuro is a male hamster shocked me — he was supposed to be a she! — but Shiro and Kuro got along so well I didn’t have the heart to return him to the pet shop. Nor did Hero Material. We kept them both. Shiro delivered her first litter: Peanut and Buttercup.

Then a disease ravaged her small body. It was a diarrhea caused by some parasites. I don’t know how she got it, but it destroyed her appetite on top of everything else. She refused to eat her favorite food — green veggies, nuts, seeds, etc. At one point, her weight dropped all the way from 55 grams to 17 grams. When she collapsed on her side, we thought this was it…until she jumped back up.

She never made a full recovery — the diarrhea never stopped even though her weight reached around 36 grams. That’s still very small for a hamster. Her mate Kuro weighs around 50-55 grams.

Small or not, sick or not, she was a fierce mother. I remember the time when I decided to clean her cage after she had her second litter. It was getting very stinky, and her babies were old enough that I could clean her cage without turning her against them. When she realized that her babies were exposed to some alien presence, she gathered them together and covered them with her own body, while giving me the death glare.

She always gave her affection to us generously. When I put my hand near her, she placed her paw on my fingertip and said her little hamster hello. She nose-kissed Hero Material many times, and she loved the attention she got from us.

So as she lay cold on Hero Material’s palm, we took Kuro out, so they could say good bye. He groomed her cold blue belly and petted her a little.

I don’t know how long we held her. I started to feel anxious because I saw blood where she’d lain down. She had no wound or open cut on her, and because where the stain was, she’d probably vomited the blood before we found her.

Finally when her paws started twitching and her whispers flickered, we thought maybe…maybe she’d come back to us just like she’d done many times before. However, it turned out to be her last breath.

Most winter white hamsters live for 2-3 years. She was only one year old.

We placed a big cashew nut between her forepaws. Cashews were her favorite food in the whole world. We didn’t want her to be hungry. Then we wrapped her in a long swath of scentless white tissue. It was her favorite thing to make nests with. We wanted her to have something she liked so she can make a home for herself. Then we placed her in a white box in which our wedding ring came and buried her under a beautiful willow tree by the river, so every time we walk by, we can say hello. So that she knows she’ll always be remembered and loved.

Farewell, Shiro.


11 comments to “Good Bye Shiro”

  1. Nadia Lee
    · November 13th, 2009 at 12:59 am · Link

    Thanks, Joely. We still have Peanut and Buttercup. We gave the other babies to the pet store because we couldn’t keep them all. I guess it’s up to us to keep her babies happy and healthy.

    Lynn — Thank you. Gerbils are lovely pets, and I’m sure LittleDude will get to enjoy them for several years.

    Jill – Thank you.

    Heather – Thank you. I think he’ll be okay. Hero Material and I need to take him out of his cage and play with him at least once a day so he doesn’t feel lonely. He’s used to play with Shiro.

  2. Joely
    · November 12th, 2009 at 9:42 pm · Link

    *sobs* Oh, Nadia, I’m so sorry! Poor little thing. At least she’s not sick any longer. Do you still have her babies? Hugs!

  3. Lynn Daniels
    · November 12th, 2009 at 9:43 pm · Link

    Aw, Nadia, I’m so sorry to hear this. Your post was a wonderful tribute to her and I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. Of course, it’s made even more poignant by the fact that LittleDude got a pair of gerbils recently, and I could hear them — busy in their cages behind me — as I read.


  4. Jill Myles
    · November 12th, 2009 at 9:50 pm · Link

    Aw, Nadia, I’m so sad to hear that. :( I know how much she meant to you.

  5. Heather (bookobsessedgrl)
    · November 12th, 2009 at 9:51 pm · Link

    I am very sorry to hear you lost Shiro. I hope Kuro is okay without her. :cry:
    Take care,

  6. Portia Da Costa
    · November 13th, 2009 at 3:40 am · Link

    My condolences on the death of your beautiful pet Shiro. Your description of your tender farewell to her brought tears to my eyes. Even though her life was short, it was rich in love, and she was cherished and could not have had a better home.

  7. Dionne
    · November 13th, 2009 at 7:05 am · Link

    So sorry about Shiro darlin. I will miss her.

  8. Sam
    · November 13th, 2009 at 8:29 am · Link

    I’m sorry, Nadia. :( In a strange occurence, Roadster also passed away recently, on Monday. He lived for 2 years, and for that I was grateful. At least, you’ve got their offspring. I hope Kuro will be okay.

  9. bettie
    · November 13th, 2009 at 3:32 pm · Link

    I’m so sorry about Shiro. I’ll miss reading about her.

  10. Ella Drake
    · November 13th, 2009 at 8:46 pm · Link

    I’m so sorry about Shiro. Hugs.

  11. Nadia Lee
    · November 14th, 2009 at 9:51 am · Link

    Portia – Thank you. It means a lot to me.

    Dionne — Me too…!

    Sam — I’m so sorry about Roadster. I didn’t know. :( Are you going to get another hamster? Kuro seems to be doing okay.

    Bettie — Thank you.

    Ella — Thanks. :hugs back:


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