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A Fond Farewell to Uncle Lopez

In the year 2017, on the 22nd of September, our beautiful Grandmother Dolly gave birth to eight tiny hamster babies. We were born too late to see our Grandmother. She passed away at the end of March, 2019, almost four months before we were born.

But she had four very handsome sons, Jameel who lived in Reston, Virginia, and Louie (our father), Leo, and Lopez. A daughter Monstie also resided in Virginia.

Monstie and Jameel were first to leave this earth. Then our revered father Louie passed away on the 17th of September, 2019, we next lost our Uncle Leo on the 14th of October, not a month later. One more month went by and the next to cross over the bridge was our Great Uncle Beetle (Grandma Dolly's brother), who died on the 19th of November. That left one senior hamster as advisor to our campaign - our amazing Uncle Lopez.

Today we mourn the last of that generation. Uncle Lopez breathed his last this afternoon, Tuesday the 14th of January. It's heartbreaking to all of us. When a hamster dies, it feels like losing all those gone before him all over again.

Lopez had suffered no illness. His death was due to old age and we saw it coming more than a month ago. In fact, he had been settled into a "senior cage" five and a half weeks before. The senior cage is one like those we live in but smaller, making it easier for the older hamster to walk from his nest to his pee corner to his food dish and his little food stash. It is about two-thirds the size of a regular cage, measuring about 24 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 8 inches deep. A picture appears on the right.

Taking care of older hamsters requires a little more care than the younger ones get. They often need more water, and those who drink a lot need to have their pee corners cleaned out every couple of days. Extra care has to be taken to remove old food that they may not have eaten (other than dry food) to prevent rotting fruits and veggies from accumulating in the hamster's cage. And when it becomes clear that the hanster's life is near its end, it's nice to offer the hamster a few extra treats.

This assumes that the hamster suffers no illness or injury. If the hamster appears sick, has a lump or growth on the body, seems unable to walk (possible paralysis), the hamster should be taken to a vet at once. The hamster may have a fatal condition but one that requires only special attention in his last days or weeks. But on the other hand, the hamster may be suffering from an illness that makes it necessary to put him down. Veterninarians usually do not charge for this.

As much as it hurts to part with a beloved pet, that will probably be the last thing you want to do. But you are doing it for him. He'll be lost to you sooner rather than later, and by letting go when it's time, you take some of the suffering for him. It's a painful sacrifice you make for your tiny loved one. By giving permission for the end to come, you let your hamster know how very much you care.

Our Uncle Lopez, like his brothers and sister, went peacefully. It still hurts, but we find comfort knowing we did all we could to make his last days happy. He left this earth knowing he is loved.

Dear Uncle Lopez. We miss you terribly. You will be forever on our minds and in our hearts. Thank you for the wonderful inspiration and wisdom and kindness you brought to the campaign. We will always be grateful to have shared our lives with you.
                                    From your loving nephews,
                                    Mason, Monaham, and Diddley.