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February 12, 2006

Posted by Teresa at 01:16 AM * 71 comments

It is with sorrow that I report the passage from all earthly cares of Arthur, our hamster, who was formerly Jim Macdonald’s hamster. Among his other distinctions, Arthur was the only cavy to have ever attended the annual Viable Paradise writers’ workshop in Martha’s Vineyard.

arthur.jpgHe was a Teddy Bear hamster, which is a long-haired variant of the Syrian Golden. He was also the biggest hamster I’ve ever seen. The first thing Elise Matthesen said when she met him was, “Looks like there was a guinea pig in the woodpile.” We had to give up his Habitrail-type cage when he got too big to fit through the passageway tubes.

His palatial second cage is only a couple of feet away from where I sit when I’m writing.

Arthur lived a happy life—sleeping, grooming, gnawing on the bars of his cage, getting petted, wheedling snacks (especially green peas, avocado bits, salt-free corn chips, mesclun salad mix, and leftover Chinese takeout rice), plotting escapes, running on his wheel, arranging everything in his cage just so, rummaging through his food dish to find all the best bits so he could carry them off to stash in his little plastic igloo, dashing around the apartment in his hamsterball (I’ve seen him do five or six circuits of the dining table at top speed), and having random spells of passionate digging and berm-formation that left bits of cage litter scattered for several feet in all directions. He pursued all these activities with heartfelt diligence.

He will be much missed.

Comments on Arthur:
#1 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 02:43 AM:

My wife and I lost a beloved pet cockatoo a few years ago; he was 15 years old, and had a surprising variety of eccentric but passionate activities, much like your Arthur. We still miss Spike very much; and feel for your loss as well. Sounds like he was quite a guy.

#2 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 03:40 AM:

I'm so sorry. I'm glad he had such a rich and happy stint at hamsterdom, however short.

#3 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 04:41 AM:

Oh poor thing. I liked Arthur.

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 05:13 AM:

Arthur was the Hamster of Consolation.

He had a certificate so that no one would mistake him for a quufer.

(That last will be obscure to anyone who hasn't read the Planet Builders series by "Robyn Tallis.")

#5 ::: Gabe ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 08:35 AM:

Wonderful are the animals that leave us with rich memories, much love and a little sorrow when they pass.

#6 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 08:44 AM:

Oh, the sympathies to you and yours, for the passing of this small sweet beastie.

#7 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 08:45 AM:

"From the great deep to the great deep he goes."

Sorry to hear of your loss.

#8 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 08:45 AM:

I'm sorry to hear it. He sounds like a very nice rodent.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 08:57 AM:

Arthur had more personality than he had body mass. We were never sure where he kept it all.

#10 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 09:16 AM:

The thing I love about the passions of animals is that they are unpolluted by the deceptions of language. Likewise, that's what great about the moment when animals decide they trust you. Their trust, when they trust you, is pure and complete. They are perfect characters. They show rather than tell. They might tear you to pieces -- like the grizzly in "Grizzly Man" -- but at least they aren't pretending to not tear you apart when they are tearing you apart. I do admit, however, that one party tearing the other party to pieces is something of a setback in any relationship.

Still. This purity of passion is something that I have always had affection for in the animals that have shared my living spaces with me. It's one of the things that defines them for me, and it's one of the things I miss most about them when they are gone.

Arthur sounds like he was a character of great passion. Good that he was that -- it's what we remember about them fondly. Bad that he is gone, of course. My sympathies.

#11 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 09:20 AM:

Regrets, Teresa. Arthur sounds like a cool hamster. Wish I'd been able to meet him.

We've had some pretty nifty hamsters in our life, too. My fave was Scabbers, a fearless dwarf hamster we had for two years. We called him Houdini because he could escape from any enclosure. Later I'd find him filching dog food and water from Tasha's bowls -- or he'd come up and sniff my foot while I was doing dishes.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 09:28 AM:

I hope it was just old age that caused Arthur's passing away and not something nasty. My cat Murphy had liver prolems and we did what we could to help her recover, but it was a losing month-long battle and we had her put to sleep.

My condolences.

#13 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 09:46 AM:

I'm so sorry to hear that. He sounds like he was a wonderful companion.

#14 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 09:55 AM:

Oh, he was adorable, and he sounds like a wonderful little guy.

#15 ::: laughingrat ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 10:13 AM:

Aw no. I am sure you will miss him terribly. Having little creatures around is so wonderful, and it's a double blessing when you can share your creative space with them. My rats live in my "studio," and when I used to actually make stuff in there, it was wonderful to be able to stop, pet a rat, and gather my thoughts when I was stuck on a design.

#16 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Oh, I'm so sorry. Arthur sounds like a wonderful hamster.

I do have visions of him running around hamster heaven, bragging about the really _nice_ home his pet humans got him, and how they loved him enough that he had to get so big to accommodate all that love.

#17 ::: Greg van Eekhout ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 10:45 AM:

I'm very sorry for your loss. Wish I'd gotten to meet the little dude.

#18 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 10:55 AM:

I'm very sorry for your loss. Your descriptions of Arthur seriously tempted me to get a hamster of my own (which would have been a huge step, because it would have been my first pet ever).

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:07 AM:

The loss of a beloved companion animal is always a shock. I'm sorry for your loss.

#20 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:26 AM:

*snugs* Symapathies of Arthur's passing. He was a very special addition to VP that year which was not an easy one. We know how hard it is to lose a pet - especially one as special as Arthur.

Kate and Ernie

#21 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:35 AM:

I'm very sorry to hear it. Animals show us a laser-intense unconditional love. How can we not reciprocate it as best we can?

We lost our beloved dog Tasmin very suddenly to cancer last spring. We can still feel her presence around the house at times, waiting eagerly for us to come home, or silently pacing the house in lookout when we're sleeping.

#22 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:41 AM:

I'm sorry for your loss. It's hard to appreciate the depth of attachment we have for our pets until we lose them.

#23 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:48 AM:

Aw. Sympathies.

#24 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Requisat in pacem, Arthur. You were an excellent hamster.

#25 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 12:37 PM:

I spent decades striving mightily to keep each of my residences rodent-free. "They shall not pass", and all that.

Then my kids wheedled me into bringing guinea pigs into the house. I was surprised at how much affection the silly things brought in with them, and at how much love such a foolish creature as a cavy could absorb.

So, you have my sympathy.

#26 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 12:55 PM:

My condolences. Arthur sounds special.

#27 ::: nina armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 01:10 PM:

I am so very sorry. It's always hard to lose a beloved pet.

#28 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 02:09 PM:

The room is still warm
As its windows fill with snow
The wheel is at rest.

#29 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 02:16 PM:

Oh man. I sm so sorry. Arthur was a swell fellow and was a bright and shining soul. I'll miss the little guy...

#30 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 02:45 PM:

My condolences. A cold day seems suddenly colder, hearing the news.

#31 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Some pets are just so special...

Condolences from the sunny Western lands.

#32 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 02:52 PM:

Oh, damn. I'm so sorry. Arther was a gentleman and a hamster, and I'm sure the house feels eerily quiet without his noises. Condolences to his family.

#33 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 02:58 PM:

My condolences to you, and a fond "cheeble" to Arthur's spirit, wherever it goes.

#34 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 03:07 PM:

Oh no, I am so sorry. Please accept my condolences.

#35 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 03:12 PM:

All of our rats send a concerted wave of sympathy.

#36 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 04:11 PM:

Aw, that's so sad. I've had hamsters and guinea pigs and I know how sad it is to lose one. He's waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge now.

#37 ::: Bill Hooker ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 04:29 PM:

The death of a pet is a death in the family. I'm very sorry for your loss.

#38 ::: Luke McGuff ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 05:07 PM:

Condolences on the passing of your hamster. For the past year and a half or so, I've kept rats, and they're quite a lot of fun. It's surprising how much one can bond with such a short lived creature.

#39 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Oh, poor little guy. I hope the pain over his loss lessens and the memories increase.

#40 ::: the other kate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 05:26 PM:

Oh. I'm sorry.

(My teddy bear hamster (named Theo-- we were young) was also an escape artist. My brother twice woke up in the night to see Theo voyaging across his chest. Theo was so light that he couldn't feel her, so it was all a bit disconcerting.)

I hope it was an easy passing.

#41 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 05:32 PM:


#42 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 06:23 PM:

I'm very sorry to hear about Arthur's passing. It sounds like he had about the best life a hamster could have.

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 06:29 PM:

Somewhere, in a remote mountain cave, there is a Habitrail by which hangs a golden trumpet...

You'll know what to do when you find it.

#44 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 06:34 PM:

I'm so sorry. )-:

#45 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 06:54 PM:

This, coming on top of the medical That's tough. I hope things get better soon.

#46 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 07:34 PM:

Aw. He was a cute little guy.

#47 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 09:05 PM:

I'm so sorry. We were all very impressed by Arthur.

#48 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 09:12 PM:

Very sorry to hear about this. Losing family members is hard - no matter if they're the sort of family members that have four feet (can't remember if hamsters have tails).

#49 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:16 PM:

Doug Merrill, Teresa instructs me to tell you thank you and she shall inscribe that on an appropriate object.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2006, 11:27 PM:

Julia, I've been thinking about the time you came to visit, and all of you (esp. Poppy, iirc) making Arthur's acquaintance. That was a good evening.

#51 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 12:19 AM:

Grief is grief, whether the family member you lose has four legs or two. It hurts either way.

If there is an afterlife and our fuzzy friends aren't there too, boy am I ever going to bitch to the management.

#52 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 05:09 AM:

In college I was asked to an interview by one of the "Christian" organizations around campus. Don't remember why I went, but there was an immediate divergence of views when they told me that A) pets don't go to Heaven, and B) nobody else I wanted to see would either. My response was along the lines of what Huck decided about turning Jim in, which distressed them even further since I clearly wouldn't make it in... Actually, I think I was ruder than Huck: I should have just left when they told me that animals have no souls rather than shouting "Horseshit!"

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 08:35 AM:

Bruce, your comments remind me of The Last Hunt, one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, where a man finds that he could step into Hell without recognizing it for what it is, even with both eyes open, but the Devil can't fool a dog.

#54 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 09:52 AM:

My condolences.

I married into my wife's extended family of 20 or 30 pets and have come to appreciate how important a part of our lives they can be.

#55 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 02:06 PM:

Bruce, that is a bit of pseudo-theology that has always been a non-starter with me. In the end, all of creation will be redeemed. Those who think they really know how in pictorial detail are deceiving themselves.

Teresa, we have lost pets as well, old and young. I'm sorry I did not meet Arthur. My condolences.

#56 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 02:36 PM:


My daughters have had several hamsters over the years, each one a distinct little personality, each one much missed even now. The last was Sam the Ham (short for Samwise Hamgee), also a Teddy Bear, who passed last fall. It sounds like he and Arthur would have gotten along well.

Margaret Organ-Kean: Hamsters have small but definite tails.

#57 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 02:41 PM:

Deepest condolences, Teresa. Pets are sneaky about how far they get into your heart before they go.

#58 ::: Dionycheaus/Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 03:25 PM:

I know how it is with critters that seem to pack personality into every limited ounce. My iguana died recently and I'm in the process of making her a memorial-site. I'm very sorry Arthur's gone, and very glad he had a wonderful time while he was here.

#59 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 05:50 PM:

I don't recall if I posted about this place before.

I do know the subject has come up as a DIY project.

But this outfit turns pet fur into wool, and will knit memorial knick-knackery for you:

#60 ::: Narnia Nerd ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 06:34 PM:

It's hard to replace a faithful pet. I hope that you can find another hampster who is just as fun to have around soon!

#61 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 07:29 PM:

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this! I had the pleasure of meeting Arthur at that VP, and he made a lasting impression on my heart in such a brief time. I can only imagine how you must feel.


~ Carol

#62 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 08:16 PM:

This morning, I lay drowsing in bed, not ready to get up because there was a cat lying across my legs, and thinking about the comments I'd read here. I was thinking especially about perfect trust.

I cracked an eye open to see if Koniko (really Aki no chibi ha) was looking at me. Yes, she was. Upsidedown. She was presenting her throat to me to be scritched. So I scritched it.

I don't know which should be marvelled at more: their perfect trust that we will do right by them, or their perfect faith that we will recognize what doing right means -- from their points of view.

#63 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Condolences. I blogged about the loss of our own hamster almost two years ago:

Brennan, bless his heart, asks about once every three or four months if we can dig her up and see what shape the corpse is in. I always reply that there's an ant colony next door, so the shape is likely digested.


#64 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 12:12 AM:

My sympathies.

#65 ::: Ericket ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 12:30 AM:

Remember Hamlet & Ophelia? I thought they were quite good little hampsters, although driven insane by 4-5 small, intense children. I'm sorry for your loss. I've sworn off animals until and if I get my own place again.

Warm hugs!

#66 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 12:33 AM:

Deepest sympathies, I've felt all our cat losses deeply, and was also very greived by the passing of my 'smal pets' that I had before we got cats. (Unfortunatly I will NOT ever own another prey animal until I quit keeping any cats... it's too unnerving for the animal and worrisome for me.)

#67 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 10:34 AM:

Anna Tambour has a moving tribute to the death and life of her dog Rosie on her blog "Medlar Comfits" (scroll down to January 20th, but check the other entries out along the way).

And Teresa, I add my sympathies for your loss.

#68 ::: Connie H ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2006, 11:58 AM:

So sorry to hear about Arthur!

#69 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2006, 06:01 AM:
Death is a cessation from the impression of the senses, the tyranny of the passions, the errors of the mind, and the servitude of the body.
(Marcus Aurelius Antoninus)

My commisserations for your Arthur. He is, I am sure, at peace now. (I know this is poor consolation.)

#70 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2006, 05:56 AM:

I'm sorry to hear of Arthur's passing... He was obviously well-loved.

A relationship with animals is always two-way. We recently adopted two rats, and I hope our life them will be as mutually beneficial as yours was with Arthur...

#71 ::: Neel Bulchandani ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2006, 04:02 AM:

I am a bit late in stumbling across this most momentous loss of yours. This traveler, arthur, surely does not remain in the corporeal sense any longer. Nevertheless, I gather the industrious fellow is bringing some rapture to children and people alike in some form or shape.
Perhaps the absence of quuing will confirm the declaration made by the certificate that adorns him. Still, wouldn't it be beneficial to sport a hypercolor dermalsphere?

so long and thanks for all the fish

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