On May 4th 2015, Angharad and I decided an addition to our newly rented home was required. A trip to Pets At Home in Wrecsam took us straight to our boy – a hamster we named Celt.
Celt was partially white and partially orange in colour and his markings were beautiful. Thinking back it’s hard to believe how small he was. We chose a suitable home, food and accessories before taking the trip back home. It was obvious he didn’t like the only car journey he would take until three days ago but he relaxed as we neared home and was obviously and instantly a well behaved little boy.
All I wanted to do was to hold him when we first introduced him to our home but Angharad explained how he would first need to settle in. I understood this but three / four days was the best I could do – when I held him he sat patiently, learning about his surroundings and smelling my scent. His behaviour was impeccable.
I was worried at first – he seemed so sombre and quiet. I never saw (nor heard) him in his running wheel and he would burrow on the lower level of him house instead of using the warm dome right above him on the second level. Angharad informed he was fine and that he was coming to life around 15 minutes after my 10 o’clock bedtime. I found this difficult to believe so after a week I decided to push my bedtime limits and stay up. Low and behold, 10:15pm on the nose, out popped the little man. He was lightning – sprinting around the cage, climbing (and falling), munching, drinking and running in his wheel. It was a genuine pleasure to see him. It was the first time I allowed myself to believe that he was happy in his new home with us.
Over the next few weeks he grew in size and in cheekiness. Holding my hands outside the cage he would hop out and run through my fingers. I’d never seen a little critter so lively and sociable. Upon placing him back home he would immediately run back to where he first jumped out and expect my hands to be waiting for him once again – they were. This little play would last umpteen times before I would close his cage and he would stare at me with sad eyes. This would then go one of two ways – I would get him back out or I’d give him a nice treat (and sometimes get him back out again anyway).
It took us a good month to realise how to close his cage properly without using extra ties and blocks etc. Knowing he was more secure was calming for us.
Celt never moved from his spot in our little living room and would often grace us with his presence when we would watch a film or chat. His little head popped out to see what was going on.
He grew and grew and grew over the next few months. Comparing him to when we first got him was impossible. Must’ve been all the treats!
As time went on he learned how to use his extra ball and learned that I’d often leave treats in there for him. He enjoyed the climb but (perhaps wrongly of me) sometimes relied on my hand to help him down. He was perfectly capable – he was just being cheekily lazy. That’s my boy!
Returning home I’d always look forward to seeing him as I turned the light on in the room. Nine times out of ten there he’d be, sat looking at me without movement. He knew I was coming for a cuddle whether he liked it or not.
When Celt awoke to be cleaned out or for a cuddle etc, he’d always follow a strict ritual. Head out with ears picked up, big stretch, mini fuss from me, then he’d slip down the side of his cage for a wee. After this he’d pop back up ready to be a menace once again.
Mam would love to see him stand on his back legs and survey the area. His ears would stand up and he looked so pristine.
Cleaning day was generally a Sunday morning. It wasn’t too long to wait for him to waddle over to his ball and run straight into the kitchen or over to the front door. He loved exploring and I loved making his home new for him to return. I would always make him a new feature on which to climb and place treats in a new place – it wasn’t long before he’d destroy his feature and swiftly stuff him cheeks with every treat I’d hidden. Incredible.
Celt appeared in many of my school lessons as examples for sentences and even GCSE help sheets. The students loved seeing pictures of him and hearing about his exploits as much as I enjoyed telling them.
He made him home on many of my social media sites – not least Instagram. He remains to this day the only subject of a live photograph on my phone…. even though I didn’t mean to take it!
He was always part of our family but he became much more than that. I hope he doesn’t think we took him for granted. Not once was he not a part of our day in some way.
The day before I returned home from a weekend away with friends Angharad told me that his wellbeing had deteriorated quickly. She had taken him to the vet who told her to expect the worst. He was given medicine but he still refused to eat or drink. His breathing was laboured and he wouldn’t move from his corner.
Returning home and seeing this for myself was the worst feeling I’ve felt in a very long time. Despite a few tears by the Mallorcan swimming pool in the morning, my mind refused to accept he wasn’t right. When I finally returned home he was in a bad way. It is not a way I will choose to remember him – but I fear I may not have that choice. Angharad said he had deteriorated further and we didn’t believe he’d make it through the night.
Until half past 8 the next morning we kept him warm, offered him food and stroked him – he still held on. We refused to go too long without talking to him. Before we took him back to the vet this morning he was worse again but still fighting. That brave boy even fought the inevitable when his time in this world with us came to an end.
The cliché, however true, bore no solace for me but at least I know he was no longer suffering.
We found a beautiful large pot and an Edelweiß to lay him to rest. It truly is a beautiful thing – the very least our little boy deserved.
I hope he understands why we felt it best to allow him to sleep. Angharad and I struggled with the pain but coped for him – but it was a pain to which we were not willing to subject our boy.
He taught me how to have fun and to play. He taught me to laugh and to care. He taught me how to love everything – however small. He taught me that even tiny hamsters have their own spectacular personalities and that Celt had one that will never be matched.
There is a gap both in our living room and in our hearts but forget him we shall not. He represented a great deal of what Angharad and I mean together – especially knowing he has shared our first home with us since a month or two after we moved here.
Nos da, Celt. Diolch yn fawr am bopeth.
We will miss you terribly.