Thursday, September 19, 2013
My kids, like all kids, wanted a pet. They bugged me at the end of each school year, to be able to take the class hamster home for the summer. I played the allergy card to get out of it, but finally got worn down. In 1999, we decided to get the kids a pet for Christmas. I thought a hamster or guinea pig was too ordinary, and you can’t snuggle with a fish or turtle, so I shopped around for something special. That’s how I found Basil, a hedgehog. I should have asked why he was on sale, but just thought I was in luck. The first week we had Basil, we noticed his quills were falling out. I found a vet who treated exotic animals and was told Basil had mites and would have to be bathed with medicated shampoo for a week. This was the beginning of our sick animal curse, as well as a financial boon for the vet. The kids totally enjoyed Basil. He was supposed to be a nocturnal animal, but Molly would drag him out of his cage as soon as she got home from school. She regularly put Basil in her pink Barbie car and sent him cruising down the hall at super speed. Ben filmed his first video about a killer hedgehog, starring Basil. Hedgehogs are basically poop machines, and don’t groom themselves. Basil would run on his exercise wheel, all the while pooping. Kinda gross, but we loved him anyway. Molly noticed one day that one of Basil’s hind feet was red and swollen. The vet thought he had an infection and we had to give him antibiotics. This involved a syringe and meal worms. Ick! I had to fill the syringe with the medicine, stab a worm and inject it. Then I'd feed it to Basil, who'd gobble it up. Slurp! Worms and needles - The whole process became a benchmark for me of what I can do when I have to. Unfortunately, the medicine didn’t do any good. We eventually had to have Basil’s leg amputated. He lasted a little while, and seemed to be holding out until his replacement arrived - Lucy, our first dog. His passing was sad, and we tried another hedgehog but it wasn’t the same. Ethel was an exercise maniac and not very nice. She bit me and Molly. We eventually talked a girl at the vet into adopting her. Basil was a great little guy and I miss him. But not the worms.