Friday after Thanksgiving, 2010. SPCA. We'd come back for the job lot of older hams in the glass aquarium that we'd seen earlier in the week. They'd be a handful, but we liked handfuls.

I don't remember which of us said, "Oh, look."

We peered up to the dark shelf over our heads, a storage rack for empty cages. What we saw was a small face pressed to the bars of a tiny travel cage, watching us.

"And that one, too, of course."

The ballad of Stanley and Clark has been strummed by cowboy poets on the Steppes since before either hamster was born, but in case no scurrisome minstrel ever came to your door, this is the short of it: "Why don't we see if this little guy will get along with Stanley?"

Clark and Stanley, Friends in the Saucer

And they were best friends.

And Stanley grew old as Clark grew plump, but Clark still took his cues from Stan. If Stanley climbed on top of the cottage, Clark followed. If Stanley liked sunflower seeds, those were Clark's favourite, too. If Stanley eagerly got into the hand, Clark.... well, Clark stood nearby, not so sure, but trusting Stanley that it might not be completely awful to deal with these humans.

Clark cared for Stanley in his last days, stayed by his side, kept him warm company. When Stan left, I didn't think we'd see much of Clark. His interest in us had only ever been through Stanley.

He came out only enough to eat and drink. Why run, without Stanley? Why climb, without Stanley? Why even look at a Milkbone, without Stanley there to take the other end?

I couldn't give him a philosophical pep talk. He was only a little hamster, after all.

But eventually, Clark came out more. Soon he ran. He found the sand bath again and declared it fine. He powered storms with his saucer. He still looked at the hand like it was a guest who hadn't called first, but he'd still hop in and be patted, just as Stanley had taught him was good.

Clark, Too Fast for Focus

Our "Nutcrunch" grew older. Our "Clark Bar" became more bare. Our "Clarkle" sprouted an array of warts so alarming and never seen before on any of our brood that he became "Treebeard" for awhile, but that is another tale.

He still ran.

And then, he went to the wheel, but only to sit. And he went to the sand, but only to groom.

And eventually, he went to his bed, and he slept.


Septemberish 2010 - 20 October 2012

21 October 2012 |

Previously: A Taste for It
Next: Roy






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)