Wow, it’s the first day of school and all I can say is that I really thought it’d be different. I anticipated the early wake-up. The weather was forecasted for rain. The kids had all their supplies ready. This would be a great day for writing and getting ready for my mom’s birthday dinner. Which I cancelled from yesterday due to the gerbil trauma in the house.
My kids have saved up all summer to buy the cage and all the supplies needed for gerbils. The cage stood empty for weeks while they saved enough to buy the little brothers. You have to purchase gerbils that are the same sex and from the same litter in order for them to get along. If not, you either have babies or fights.
Cookie and Ninja, as named by my eight and six year olds, settled in for their first night on Saturday. Sunday morning I noticed the cage was pushed a little to the back of the kid-height table and that the back was hanging off the edge. Realizing the cat took an interest in the little guys, we opt to move their home to my work space – the library (our formal living was converted last year to a library, b/c who uses a formal living room anymore?).
That night we slide the pocket doors in the room closed, so that the cat can’t get in. Monday morning comes and we come downstairs at 7:45 to find the cage is smashed on my antique hand-made Peking rug. Ninja’s body was found by Pete (with the kids not nearby) on the foyer rug, possibly carried there by Sasuke (our cat). Cookie is missing.
While I clean up the bedding, the food, and repair the cage, Rocket (one of our dogs) finds the missing Cookie behind a cabinet. We shoo the dogs away and pick up Cookie to return to his cage. At this point we break the news to my son that Ninja didn’t make it. I spin the tail that he bravely distracted Sasuke so Cookie could hide. My six year old finds a measure of comfort that Ninja died so that his brother other could live.
The rest of my day is spent now searching for a gerbil on the phone (b/c the pet store nearby is sold out), driving to get another cage and the new pet with my kids, returning to set the whole thing up only to find the new cage is deeper than the first and won’t fit on the shelf. Pete is installing eye hooks in our solid wood pocket doors so that the cat can’t get in again.
I set the new cage up so the new little guy can get out of the cardboard box and then we drive back to the store to get a narrower cage. My son is thrilled with his new all-black beautiful gerbil. Yes, for those of you that have seen my pets in pictures, this makes our fourth black pet in the household (what are the odds?).
Apparently I did not re-build the first cage well in my haste. The tube on the side that leads to a top look-out area fell off and Cookie escapes while I’m cooking dinner. Rocket and Astro were in the library and Rocket gleefully takes chase. But he doesn’t try to hurt it, amazingly enough. I run from the kitchen to calls the dogs away and then retrieve the scared gerbil. I repair the cage and watch the little guy for a bit to see how he is. He’s holding up his back leg and favoring it. Did this happen when the cat knocked off the cage or when the tube fell? Poor Cookie, things are not looking good.
We lock the eye-hooks on the doors at night and the kids happily go off to bed for the first day of school today.
Today dawns dark and early at 6:30 a.m. Pete and I still aren’t quite awake yet as the kids gleefully run downstairs to have breakfast. I decide to open the library doors up to ensure fresh air circulates and I don’t have gerbil stench while trying to work. What do my bleary eyes encounter? The NEW cage is knocked off the shelf. Bedding is everywhere and there is no sign of the new gerbil.
My eyes dart to the second doorway in the dining room, which stands open about four inches. The cat must have worked his paw under the doors and wiggled them back and forth enough to jar the eye hook off it’s catch! I close everything up and shut off the lights so the kids don’t see. We proceed to get ready for the day and no one talks about the cage (my initial outraged scream has of course alerted everyone, but we hushed the kids up and redirected them to breakfast).
So now, here I sit, at my desk. Shocked and attempting to drink coffee and think. The first floor of the house has been searched. The new gerbil has not been found.
Do I rush out and buy yet another gerbil? Do the pet stores talk to each other and will I be banned from another purchase? Did the cat take the gerbil outside through the pet door and kill him outside (in the rain)? Is the gerbil hiding somewhere safe in the library RIGHT NOW or is it dead and going to start stinking?
I’m off to start my work day and then try to find the little guy. This is one of those things were if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, but good god, I can’t take the drama! Could it get any worse?
UPDATE: While on the phone with a friend I FOUND the new gerbil – safe and sound!! It’s back in it’s cage and my poor son won’t have to deal with another dead gerbil. Yay!!!