If your animal hurts you, take a step back and ask yourself why
This morning I am typing this with my ring finger, as my middle and thumb are pressing gauze to my index. Please excuse the typos.
I have been blessed with either docile animals and animals that love me dearly. I know I have. And when people at work ask me about hamsters in particular, I tell them I’ve been extremely lucky to never have been bitten.
This morning Bernie decided to tell me that he thinks his cage is more of an apartment and he would like a spacious house more. I knew that day would come - he is a Syrian after all, and very few cages really exist for them - but I was hoping it would take more than two days. I bought the biggest cage that could house him but he is not a fan. He has experienced life outside out of the box he was in at work and goddamn he is gonna enjoy it.
The only cages big enough are only available online where I live and take one to two months to ship. I told Bernie this, but of course being a hamster, he didn’t care. So I gave him a tissue box with a few pulled out, stuck some noms inbetween the sheets, and made a digging cave for him.
Not good enough, man. I booped his snoot, and he bit me.
So first off, hamster teeth hurt like a motherfucker.
Secondly, I wasn’t mad. I did yell out a foul word, but more out of pain than any anger at him. It’s not his fault. He just wants s bit more room AND his cool toys, not one or the other. I left to grab some gauze but I came right back, and took Bernie out, and we had ourselves an explore on my bed, which IS much larger than his cage, obviously. Bernie had a blast. He tunneled under sheets. He tunneled under pillows. He climbed Pillow Mountain. He wanted to rappel down the sides of the Bed Cliffs (Mama said no).
Bernie is now back in his cage thinking he is Hot Shit. And while out of cage time is important, it’s equally important that his actual cage be big enough so that I can work an eight or ten or twelve hour shift and come home and go right to bed, and know that he’s okay and not bored. In the meantime, I’m thinking of going to Walmart and buying one of those long bins used to store sheets and making him a maze out of cardboard. A big maze, with empty passages and passages stuffed with bedding and chambers big and stuffed with bedding to tunnel through. He’d like that. I’ll keep it once the big cage comes in, but hopefully this will tide him over while he lives in the apartment cage.
Bernie bit me to show he was frustrated. He wants to run NOW, not in two hours, not in two months. NOW.
Luna, Apollo, and Aisha, my cats, don’t bite and never have, but they do occasionally scratch. Not on purpose. They’re trying to get down or get up, they slip, or something exciting or scary happens and they need to book it. And it hurts every time.
You’re going to get hurt if you own a pet. You’re going to get bitten or scratched - by them, their equipment, etc. If they’re a bigger animal, you’re going to get body slammed from time to time. It’s okay.
I’m not saying you can’t yell FUCK when the pain hits. It’s actually scientifically proven that that helps lessen the pain. But don’t blame your pets. Look around and try to see it from their perspective. Maybe they’re tired, or something scared them. Maybe they have to pee. Maybe you’re bugging the crap out of them, or they want to play in an animal way, not in a people way. Maybe it was genuinely an accident and your body invaded the space they’d intended to put their body.
It’s okay. Talk to them calmly. Grab a bandaid or some Tylenol. Don’t yell at them. Don’t hit them. Don’t be mad at them. They’re just trying to talk to you and it’s not their fault you don’t speak hamster or bird or lizard, etc etc.