It all started last May.
One night after dinner my now eleven-year-old daughter grabbed my hand in hers, yelled for her Dad to “please come here” and urgently led us both to the basement.
And there, in the center of the room, on a card table, lay everything we’d ever want or need to know about hedgehogs. Fun facts, photos, and a list of why hedgehogs are the perfect pet. Abby then give us a ten-minute presentation on why we should allow her to become the owner of one of these very unique spiny mammals.
I worked hard to contain my laughter; this kid was well prepared! But after her spiel, it took my husband and I just a few seconds to weigh in with our thoughts, “Uh, no.”
You see, Abby is the youngest of three. And over the span of the last fifteen years, between all our girls, we’ve been the proud owners of angelfish, beta fish, dwarf hamsters, teddy bear hamsters, multiple dogs and at least six hermit crabs. So at this point in time, I was done. Done owning anything more exotic than a dog.
But everything changed in June. Because in June our adorable much beloved six-year-old American Mastiff, whom Abby has always been extremely close to, got a tiny bump on her paw. Two days later, that bump was the size of a golf ball. Long story short, our Sadie Jane had bone cancer, an extremely painful and incurable disease. And while I know everyone loves his dog, there was something really special about this dog, I’ve never met a sweeter, gentler 150-pound klutz of a canine.
She was the kind of dog our neighbors would ask about whenever I saw them. The kind of dog our vet seemed to love as much as we did. We were all hurting when it was time for her to go. Especially Abby.
So I don’t know if she just saw an opportunity, or if she really needed something to take her mind off losing her Sadie, but soon after we lost our big dog, Abby re-ignited her hedgehog campaign. And in our grief, in our weakest of moments, we said yes. Until we discovered just how much a hedgehog cost.
$300; just for the animal. Cage, food, supplies, all extra. How about something else, something a little cheaper, I suggested. And so it was that we spent many a day at our local pet store checking out geckos, chameleons, and turtles. We even took a peek at some tiny frogs. Wow, did I learn a lot. Tanks and heaters and humidity; it seemed if we were to get a reptile we’d have to reinvent its natural habitat (and buy live crickets!). Ugh, the last thing I need is crickets and/or loose lizard in my house. But it didn’t matter; Abby’s heart was with the hedgehog. I was secretly relived.
So we came up with a compromise. Save all your summer allowance, pair it with the birthday money we’ll give you, and then in October you can get a hedgehog. And now, here we are…
So meet Dory (who, by the way, came from a less expensive, private breeder).
I think I neglected to mention that I do not like all these weird pets we’ve owned. In fact, I don’t touch them, don’t clean the cage, don’t do anything; it’s all up to my children to care for their pets. I just walk the dog.
But, I have to say, in just a week, Dori has grown on me. She’s got these big eyes, this cute little face, and when she curls up in a ball, well, I soften. So while I won’t be cleaning the cage anytime soon, you might stop by and find me holding a hedgehog, And if you do, just don’t sneak up on me. Those quills are a little sharp!