One day we noticed she was scratching quite a bit. The following week she began losing her fur from the bottom up. After a while it looked like she was wearing a furry crop top. Her reddish bare bottom became exposed for all to see. The itching persisted. I told my daughter she should take Marley to the vet but the exam cost $45 and she told me she bought the hamster for $12. It just didn’t make sense.
My friends and neighbors offered all kinds of morbid ideas as to how I could dispose of the tiny rodent, none of them humane enough for me to consider. One idea involved a tennis racket. I just couldn’t help feeling sorry for Marley. One mosquito bite drives me crazy. I couldn’t imagine the torture of itching all day and all night. Finally, I broke down and took her to the animal hospital myself. They were happy to examine her for the $45 fee.
The diagnosis was mites: microscopic little bugs that burrow under the skin and cause incredible itching and sometimes a secondary infection, which she had developed. Her little eyes were swollen and red. She truly looked like her namesake. The doctor informed me that the cure for mites was the injection of a drug called ivermectin at $40 a pop, and she would need three of them. She would also require antibiotics that we’d need to administer into her little hamster mouth with a syringe. The antibiotics would be an additional $15. The dollar signs were whirling around my brain. All this money for a $12 hamster?
Credit cards are great, aren’t they? It feels like you’re not even spending your own money. Simply swipe and sign. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do; after all, Marley was one of God’s creatures and the good karma would surely come back to me one day.
My daughter and I took turns giving Marley her medicine. Marley actually enjoyed it, sucking on the syringe like a straw and holding it with her tiny hamster hands. We brought her back to the vet twice for more shots. She finally stopped itching. She began playing on her wheel again. I could almost hear Jamaican steel drum music coming from her Tiki hut. Marley was happy, and all for a mere $250.
A day after she finished her antibiotics, she died. We noticed an unpleasant odor coming from the Tiki hut. I was heartbroken and ticked off at the same time. She had another two good years left in her, I had been assured by the doctor! I called the vet and described our grizzly discovery. I also demanded a refund for all the money we had invested in her treatment.
The nurse offered her condolences but also refused any refund. She told me that if they gave refunds for treatments that still resulted in a pet’s death, they would be out of business. Wow, that doesn’t sound good. How many patients of theirs have died? Then she had the nerve to offer me a hamster autopsy – for $100! I angrily rejected her offer and hung up. We then had to dispose of poor Marley, who lay peacefully decomposing in her Tiki hut. We played “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” while lowering her entire cage into a big, black garbage bag.
She’s in a better place. I imagine she’s sporting a thick, healthy coat of butterscotch fur, kicking back and listening to some mellow steel drum music in her Tiki hut in the sky.