Did I tell you about the time…?

…we lost the hamster in the car?


Well…sit back and enjoy.

It happened one year after visiting Josh’s family.  Collin had a hamster, Pichu, who was a small two inch long dwarf hamster.  He wanted to bring the hamster with us to Arkansas.  I somehow got conned into it.  We also brought our dog Fred along for the ride.  I was worried that one of the cats at my in-laws would eat the hamster if he escaped, so safeguarded the cage all week.  Little did I know the true danger was the drive home.

It was one of those memorable drives.  During that drive, we decided we hated the entire state of Indiana.  It was mainly due to the fact that we hit this freak ice storm halfway through, and watched at least a dozen accidents happen around us, avoiding collisions, calling 911.  It  made for a very stressful  drive.  Josh decided we needed to sit down to eat dinner and relax.  We spend a calm hour in Applebee’s eating, and Josh and the boys went out to the car first while I took girls to the bathroom.

Have I mentioned yet that we were driving the Suburban?  You know, one of those ginormous SUV’s?

So the girls and I leave the restaurant.  I see the Suburban still parked way out at the back of the parking lot and thought,  “Weird.  Usually Josh would pull up to the curb for us.”  Because he’s a cool thoughtful guy like that.  So the girls and I hike out to the truck, and I go to let Mim in when Josh says “Don’t let her walk through the car!”


Turns out while we were eating, Fred – aka Wondermutt – saw something on the back seat he wanted (aka food the boys left.)  So Fred tried to hop over the seat.  Except we had him tethered down in the back so he couldn’t.  But he could flop around like a fish on a line and knock the hamster cage off the seat, onto the floorboard, causing the cage to pop open and allowing the hamster to escape.

Do you know how full a car gets when you drive four kids and two adults fourteen hours to and fro someplace?  Do you know how many hiding places there are for a hamster in a Suburban?  Do you know how hard it is to find a two inch dwarf hamster in a Suburban when it’s snowing on you?  We at least knew the dog didn’t eat the hamster.  See, we decided to put the muzzle on Fred for the car ride so he wouldn’t chew off part of the car. 

Josh decided after we searched for ten minutes that we needed to get out of the weather.  He decided that we needed to find a self-service car wash, that we could drive into a bay and be protected by the weather.  I said “Hey, there’s a bank over there that’s closed, we could use their drive-thru lane.”  However, in his panicked state of “Oh my God, there’s a hamster in the car, he may no longer be living and I have to tell Collin this and break his heart.”, Josh didn’t hear me.

After twenty minutes of driving around Somewhere Indiana, we pulled into a hospital parking lot.  There was a building with an underhang in it’s driveway that looked closed, so we went there.  Josh took Fred out of the truck and tied him to a light post.  Then we proceeded to start going over the Suburban with a fine tooth comb.  We searched under seats.  Under carseats.  In my bag of yarn.  In the snack bags on the floor.  In the leftover McDonald’s bags on the floor.  In Josh’s computer bag.  In my computer bag.  Under more seats. 

Finally we hit the back of the truck.  We started carefully removing suitcases.  Maura was still strapped in her carseat, the older three all feet up in the back row keeping their eyes peel.  Half our luggage ended up on the sidewalk next to the tied up wondermutt when we heard Sean yell “I see Pichu!”

Simultaneously, Josh and I prayed the same prayer.  “Oh dear God, let him be alive!”  He was.  Alive enough that when Josh grabbed him, Pichu bit him.  Josh didn’t let go.  I was there, cage in hand, and we got him back in his cage.  We spend the next fifteen minutes re-packing the car. I had to convince Josh that we couldn’t leave Fred tied up to the lamp post, that we had to take him home with us.  Josh was not happy with the wondermutt at that time – but we did put him back into the truck to take home.

And just as we were finally settled back into the car – after spending over an hour searching for this creature – a security guard pulls up.  “Do you guys need help?”

He probably thought we needed psychological help when we started laughing hysterically at his question.  Luckily, he was a guy with a sense of humor, who got a good laugh when he heard our story.