Albus Dumblogdore

Tomorrow, our family of four will become, once again, a family of five.

Now, I should explain from the outset that this has nothing to do with the number of children we currently have, nor will have by the close of the weekend. My wife is not pregnant and, having had Isaac in our lives for nearly seven years now, I think it is safe to say we would be more than happy to stop at one child (we actually have two, but would be happier to have stopped at one – that was a joke, before anyone complains).

Equally, when I say we will ‘once again’ become a family of five, this does not mean we used to have a third child who we have carelessly misplaced somewhere, nor are we gaining a new lodger.

No, I am of course referring to us getting a family pet.

In truth, I have been sceptical for some time about us getting another pet, because although it is approaching five years since we said goodnight to The Greatest Dog That Has Ever Lived, our beloved Bexley, the memory of that trip to the vets will never leave me. I don’t mind admitting I cried like a little girl when he drifted off to sleep, and it broke me for some time afterwards. Bexley had been a part of our family for over a decade, and we always fondly referred to him as our ‘first born’ – he was the sweetest, most good-natured pooch a young family could have ever wished for.

Both boys would dearly love us to get another dog. Ollie has fond memories of ‘B-Dog’ (he too, sobbed his heart out, when my wife and I got back from the vets and he nervously asked us ‘Is Bexley coming home soon?’ – Christ, I’m welling up again just typing this), and even though he is somewhat scared of more ‘excitable’ canines, a number of his friends have recently got puppies and I think he is a little jealous.

Equally, while Isaac does not really remember Bexley (who he referred to as ‘Bebski’, and enjoyed clambering over as a baby, which was usually met with a disgruntled huff from the large brown lump of fur on the floor), he is a lover of all animals, having been initially raised by a pack of wolves before entering our lives.

I think the fact we have not succumbed to getting another pet for so long is partly down to the fact we see Isaac as more of a pet than a child, to be honest. He is hairy, he never refuses food, and he loves nothing more than lying in wait at the foot of the stairs so that I trip over him. Plus, he stinks.

However, he has been begging us to get a pet for ages, and when an opportunity recently presented itself, my wife and I decided to give in to his demands.

A few weeks ago, a friend of ours posted on Facebook that her hamster had given birth to a litter (is that the correct term for a shitload of hamster babies?), and she wanted to see them all go to good homes.

My wife and I then quickly discussed whether it was a good idea (we had to act quickly, to ensure Isaac didn’t miss out), and ultimately decided to go for it, on the basis:

  1. Of all the potential pets Isaac had shown an interest in, a hamster will hopefully be relatively low maintenance.
  2. We’re not ready to consider getting another dog.
  3. Cats are evil, ungrateful, spiteful little bundles of terror, who fuck off to live with someone else at the first sign of a better deal.
  4. Fish are pointless and dull.
  5. Reptiles/insects are reserved for the fundamentally odd.
  6. My wife won’t let me get a tiger (I know I said cats are evil, and I feel sure tigers are no exception, because if we got one it would surely rip my fucking face off within a minute, but how cool would it be to own a tiger?!)
  7. We knew it would make Isaac’s year.
  8. The hamster will be some companionship for him, on the basis he and Ollie seem to currently loathe each other (which is no surprise, as I tend to loathe them both most of the time, anyway).

We therefore contacted our friend, pretended to offer a ‘good home’ (it used to be good, but the kids ruined it), and enquired whether any boy hamsters were still available – we had been advised that boys are often less likely to nip – to which she replied that a couple had not yet been claimed.

Having looked through the pictures on Facebook, we selected ‘Baby Six’, and were told he would be ready for collection on Saturday 23rd January.

Initially, we were going to keep this a secret from Isaac, in order to surprise him with an early birthday present, but when we started getting updates from the ‘mum’ (by which, I mean our friend, in case you think the mother hamster was particularly intelligent and able to type), we decided it was unfair for Isaac to miss out on all the excitement.

Before telling him of the new arrival, however, my wife decided to test his reaction with a short quiz, to find out what names he would give to various potential pets (apparently, my suggestion of sticking with ‘Baby Six’ was ‘ridiculous’).

Having run through her list, with Isaac deciding that he would call a cat ‘Simba’, a dog ‘Bones’, a parrot ‘Roger’ and a sheep ‘Jim’ (don’t ask), my wife eventually reached hamster and Isaac surprised us with the rather cute suggestion of ‘Dumbledore’, based on his love of Harry Potter (hence the name of this week’s blog, in case you were wondering about the obscure link between a hamster and a wizard).

When we then told him that he would indeed be getting a hamster, to say his reaction was one of elation would be an understatement. He nearly cried with happiness.

The next morning, despite it being a Sunday, he got up ridiculously early – which was nothing new for him, but the fact he didn’t immediately assault me certainly was – and practically skipped his way downstairs. I later discovered him on the living room floor, with a large piece of paper, a pen and his laptop (a knackered old one we don’t use anymore), researching hamsters on the internet in order to prepare himself for being a ‘Daddy’. His list was split into various sections, including research on what hamsters like to eat, what equipment he might need, and what they like to play with.

Since then, we have received regular updates and photographs from our friend, we have purchased a cage and exercise ball (complete with bedding, a water bottle and food), and Isaac has spent many a blissful hour drawing pictures to go on Dumbledore’s wall next to his cage.

He has also written his new buddy a welcome letter:

Dear Dumbledore

My name is Isaac and I’m goner be your new owner. I love and love your colours. I am very excited to play with you.

Love from Isaac”

Bless his little heart.

Anyway, welcome to the family, Dumbledore the Hamster.

Thanks for reading x

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