Sunday, May 13, 2012

• Happy Fur-Mother's Day

Yesterday I spent the day switching up my closet for the upcoming season. I've gained a few pounds since last summer and expected some outfits to be a little tight. As I pulled on shorts, zipped skirts, and wiggled into shirts, the news was worse. Everything was tight, as in, "Can-I-wear-this-without-embarrassment?" tight.

I was in my hamster's room (which doubles as my bedroom), and I kept staring at the entrance to his hut. Maggie (who, despite his name, is a boy) had blocked it with bedding, which means either that he is cold or objects to light I've let into the room. As I tossed clothes that would never fit into a giveaway pile, I looked forward to night, when he would wake.

Maggie never asks if I've put on a few pounds. He doesn't look askance as I try—as it turned out yesterday, unsuccessfully, yesterday—to zip my navy shorts. He doesn't talk about studies that show the correlation between a woman's extra pounds and diminished salary.

When he sees me, Maggie comes to the side of his cage. He's probably looking for food, but I think it's also because he loves me. When we hang out in the area I set up for him, he sniffs my feet, scampers over my arms, and tickles me with his whiskers. Maggie was shy at first, and it's taken a while to get to this point. He was born in August 2010, so he's an older boy. Hamsters only live two to three years, which makes our good times now more poignant.

Animals don't judge. The only thing they care about is what's inside a person. Earning and keeping Maggie's trust was the most important component to our relationship. The same is true of the animals I pet sit. I practice patience and kindness, and try to make sure my actions always fall within the comfort level of the animal.

And fun. I love to watch animals have fun. So Maggie won't be bored, I regularly add new boxes or other objects to crawl through, around, or over. Last night I delighted in seeing my baby boy clamber over mountains of clothes from the giveaway pile. I'd turned my misery into fun for him, and Maggie was healthy and happy—the best fur-Mother's Day gift of all.

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