Butters (12,004 - 12,006 H.E.)

Above, Butters when he was just a little baby hamseter.

Above, Butters in his basement, still waking up.

Butters, named after Leopold Stoch from South Park, is a cream-colored golden hamster.

We got Butters on December 3, 12,004 H.E. At the time, his favorite thing in the whole world was running on his wheel. Of course, since he was new, we did not immediately open up the whole Castle to him. We tried to introduce Butters to the vast world that was his, a little at a time. (We hoped to avoid mental strain that might result in an alternate personality, i.e. Professor Chaos.)

From the moment he came into our lives, the word that best described Butters was "sweet." He was remarkably well-tempered and friendly, and he was always happy to let us interrupt his important hamster stuff for a quick sniff or just an acknowledgement of our presence. Often, he would make the climb to his skyhouse just to say hello, or to be petted a little.

Very soon, Butters rediscovered the Nummy Game that his cousin Mith had invented. And he soon proved to be a peripatetic hamster, establishing multiple nests around the Castle and moving from one to another as the mood took him.

As Butters aged he had a bit of a bad spot, in late September/early October 12,006. His fur started falling out, and he developed some sores on his ear, his head, his front legs, and a big one on his back right leg. We smeared them with antiseptic ointment (making sure it wasn't one of the many antibiotics that are fatal to hamsters), and we also put Orajel on his back leg. That seemed to make him feel better. At the same time, we crushed one baby aspirin tablet and dissolved it into a bottle of water. For a couple weeks, he favored that particular bottle, so we think the aspirin helped him.

We left for a six-day trip in early October, and frankly, we did not expect good news when we got home. Well, we were surprised: Butters was much better! Some of his sores were gone, there was a big scab over the one on his back leg, and a lot of his fur grew back. He was his old happy, sweet self again.

We knew we were on borrowed time, so we made the effort to enjoy him while we still had him. That proved a wise decision.

Above, Butters in his Jungle Gym with his favorite food, lettuce.

Above, Butters on Uncle Thomas's arms.

Above, Butters late in life, going back into his skyhouse.

During the first week in November, it turned cold, and Butters stayed in his nest more. About the 5th he moved from his nest in the Labyrinth into the Great Hall. On the evening of the 7th, he was very still and unresponsive, although still breathing (albeit very slowly). He was cool to the touch. We assumed he had gone into hamster hibernation (as hamsters are wont to do when it's cold), and that we should warm him up.

With the aid of a warm water bottle and much cuddling, we got him warm and breathing more rapidly -- but he was still effectively unresponsive, and as his breathing got faster, he started gasping with every breath.

We realized that he hadn't been hibernating; he was just peacefully dying, and we had pulled him back.

Well, that was no good. We didn't want him struggling to stay alive, especially just to please us. We put Butters back into his nest, and right away he stopped gasping. In a few minutes, his breathing was imperceptible, and we finally declared time of death about 10:30 pm. Putting him back in his nest was definitely the right thing to do.

We already miss him, but we are happy for the time we had with this beautiful, sweet hamster who was such a little ball of love.



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