My first pet was a terrapin when I was 7 years old. Well, it was more like 2 terrapins in a plastic tank which I had very little feelings for it, rather than a pet.

I fed them daily, watched them move occasionally around the tank and changed the water for the terrapins weekly, but that was about it. I recalled that their lives were short-lived as well, as I had them for under a year. Dad then flushed the dead terrapins down the toilet, but I was too nonchalant to care.

So when hb wanted to get Kyle his first pet, a pair of hamsters, almost 2 years ago. I vehemently disagreed with the idea of giving a 3 year old a pet, when he can’t even take care of toileting routines by himself. But when a dad promises his 3 year old, he has to make good on his promise. Besides dh felt that it was a good idea to start teaching K to be responsible for taking care of a pet.

That did not quite worked out as hb planned, as my previous helper and I took turns to feed and care for the hamsters. K really did not feel much affinity for the hamsters and hardly even looked at them.

So what happened to the pair of hamsters? Doh-Doh, the pudding colored dwarf hamster didn’t survive for very long when the pearl-grey hamster Ah-Go, ferociously bit her butt when the pair were in a cage together. We separated them, but Doh-Doh did not recover from her assault by Ah-Go, lived in constant fear despite being alone in another cage and eventually withered away.

Insensitive mom figured since K didn’t care for the hamsters, I got my helper then to throw the dead hamster down the rubbish chute. I was chided by hb for being so insensitive to have dealt with the death of K’s first pet the way I did.

So when Ah Go passed away this weekend, we had our first pet memorial ‘service’ at the foresty area next to where we are staying.


We chose a shady spot next to a bush and dh digged a hole with a screw-driver (could not find any shovels at home!) and put Ah Go in. Dh realized that the hole wasn’t deep enough, so we took Ah Go out again. Then dh digged deeper, and we placed Ah Go the hamster back into the hole.


The three of us looked at Ah Go laying in her final resting place for a couple of seconds. Probably thought to ourselves about how the last 2 two weeks has been for Ah Go, where she was able to enjoy bits of fruits and vegetables (apart from her usual hamster grub) given by grand dad. So her last days weren’t that bad after all, by hamster standards.


We said our goodbye’s, and dh and K said, “Bye Ah Go, we will see you in heaven again…”


This will most likely be our easiest experience in handling loss (if there was any to start with for K), as there was no grieve nor tears involved and the only thing that K asked when we got back home was, “Are you going to throw away Ah Go’s things?”

We kept the cage, some hamster accessories. Not because we were planning to get another hamster so soon, rather, we felt that it was a waste just to throw away $250 dollars worth of hamster things.

As for this ‘memorial service’, it was an effort to bring some closure to K’s loss of a pet, even if it did seemed that he was barely affected by the loss. Nonetheless, I overheard him saying to his friend at the playground yesterday evening, “My hamster Ah Go died on Sunday, and my dad, mom and I buried him next to the bush in the forest over there…”

Bragging rights or closure? I can’t quite tell. But insensitive mom have learnt some life lessons from this; I can be quite certain that K will not flush/throw his kid’s first terrapin/fish/hamster down the toilet/rubbish chute when it comes to his turn to be someone else’s dad.



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  1. We threw DinoEgg’s 1st pet hamster down the rubbish chute coz we really dun like the idea of burying the little fella n risking some stray cats or dogs digging her out n eating it.

    He was sad of coz, doesn’t help it when he was the one who discovered the body. He was trying to wake her up n play with her. *sigh* We spend some time telling him that Joey is old and has gone over the rainbow. There were tears n hugs, after a day or 2 he asked “Mummy can we get another hamster plllsssssss!!!!!” Guess kids get over the loss of pet faster n easier then adults.
    DinoMama´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday – Its getting tougher

    Rachel Reply:

    Been peeking at the hamster’s grave site each time I go for a walk and it seems that it is still undisturbed by any stray animals. Maybe it is too near a small clearing of a forest, which might be bit too ‘ulu’ for cats to want to wonder there. So are u planning to get Zheng another pet anytime soon?

  2. Hi Rachel, it was really thoughtful of you to conduct that little ‘memorial svs’ for your hamster Ah Go. I can identify totally the dilemmas on how to deal with pet losses and closure for young children. In the short span of last year, we’ve bade farewell to few goldfishes and some caterpillars. My nephew’s hamster also died. Each time, we tried to explain to Dana that ‘they’ve gone to Heaven’ and she’ll nod quietly followed by questions on ‘what is Heaven’…I guess there’ll come a day we’ve to explain the concept of growing old and death in greater detail to her when she’s more mature.
    Angie´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday: Faith

    Rachel Reply:

    Yeah, will have to revisit the topic once Dana is older – death is still a very abstract concept for kids to learn when they are below 5

  3. We too, had 2 hamsters a few years ago. It was my children’s “official” pets. They hardly cared for it and left me to clean the tanks/cage, feed etc. It was a chore but nonetheless, brought us giggles when the 2 hammies ran around like crazy and slept in funny positions. I too didn’t bury them when they died. I wrapped them up decently in thick newspapers and threw them in the chute, had the kids say their last goodbyes while I said a little prayer. Like Jennifer, I too didn’t want to risk them being dug up by the cats and get eaten. I had earlier explained to my children that the hamsters lifespan is about 2 years and that all living things have a life cycle. So they moved on really quickly. :)
    Adeline´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday – My Reminder To You

    Rachel Reply:

    I think your kids really dealt with the passing of their pets really well… maybe it is like kids to be alot more adaptable to changes vs us adults?

  4. It’s good that K wasn’t overly-grieved. I recall feeling overwhelmed with guilt when my fighting fish jumped out of his tank. I felt worse when told that there was a chance to revive a dehydrated fish (by just placing back into water) AFTER I buried the poor fish.

    Good way to teach closure. So I guess no pets for now?
    NerdyMum´s last blog post ..I’m not dying yet

    Rachel Reply:

    We still have a family dog at my mom’s place – he is quite attached to the furry little one, so might be a different host of feelings when the dog passes away down the road

  5. I don’t keep a pet but my husband does when he was little. He told me that he cried so badly when his rabbit died. And he did gave his rabbit a proper closure too and refused to leave the burial place for a while. Now, he has a dog staying with his parents. Not sure how he will react when one day milo dies too due to old age.

    My children requested to have a pet but we will wait till they are older so that they can take care of the pet.

    Thanks for sharing, Rach!
    jean´s last blog post ..:: a childhood game

    Rachel Reply:

    I think losing a dog is tough for the family – I have experienced that twice. And it has never been easy.

  6. Funnily, it was also my mom threw my dead hamster down the chute and it was my dad who chided her. Roles reversal? One would think the men will be the ones who be the ‘hard hearted’ ones while the women the ‘sentimental’ ones. Lol!

    On another note, I think it’s a great way to teach kids about life cycle. If i recall rightly, you once wrote about teaching him life & death? This would be a good start.
    Homeschool@sg´s last blog post ..‘First Language Lessons for the well trained mind’

    Rachel Reply:

    Life and death is quite different for him when it comes to the hamster, especially I see very little emotions involved. Maybe it will be different when the family dog passes on in the future, K is more attached to the dog than the hamsters

  7. I don’t know what I would do if C asks for a hamster or guinea pig next time. He already loves to see them at pet stores now!

    I think I will freak out and tell him he can keep one if his Grandma agrees!! 😀
    Regina´s last blog post ..Easy Peasy Beefy Pie!

    Rachel Reply:

    Got to be prepared for that very soon…most kids start asking to have pets when they turn 3.