Written by Alyson, Veterinary Assistant at RAPS Animal Hospital
In 2016, I was an Animal Care Attendant at the RAPS City Shelter. Penelope came into the shelter after being swapped around between many different and unstable living situations. The first time I met her, she greeted me with big, food-filled cheeks and an inquisitive look on her face. I remember feeling so nostalgic of my pet hamster from when I was 9 years old and I immediately grew fond of her.
Over the next couple of weeks, whenever I’d clean her cage, I’d let her out for playtime in an exercise ball. She would zoom around the shelter and all of the staff and visitors would squeal in delight. I became more and more attached to Penelope and I was so impressed with her hand-friendliness. Over one month went by and Penelope had NO adoption interest, which still surprises me to this day. We knew that she was an older hamster, at around 2 and a half years old, so I decided I’d adopt her and let her live out her senior years in the comfort of my home. And it was the best decision I had made.
It didn’t take long for Penelope to settle into her new surroundings. I eventually got her a new cage and a playpen. I made some castles out of drink holder trays and found cardboard recyclables from around the house to entertain her. Even though she had a nice, spacious, and interactive play pen, she preferred her exercise ball. I’d hold the opening of the ball up to her and she’d gladly hop in. Every time she’d awaken from her slumber and emerge from her little house, all of my family members would shout “Penny’s awake!” and she would sit at her cage door to be let out for some ball-time.
Penelope suddenly passed away 9 months after I adopted her. Those 9 months were so heart-warming for me and I could tell that she enjoyed her time with me and my family. She blessed us with her happy, friendly self. She was so personable and unlike any hamster I have ever met. My family and I still reminisce about her and tell each other about how much we miss our little Nello. Our time together may have been short-lived, but it was a wonderful experience and I’m glad that I could make her last moments comfortable and lavished.