From right to left: Richard, Edzard-Aline and Christopher.
|Richard, my first golden (Syrian) hamster|
When I bought Richard at PJ's PETS at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto, I was told it was a boy. I didn't really think much of it, since I had chosen it because I liked the colour.
As a sort of an homage to Richard Leakey, a well-known paleoanthropologist and conservationist and to Richard Dawkins, the man who single-handedly changed the world's view on how evolution by natural selection works at the gene level, rather than at the level of the organism, I named the hamster Richard.
After a few days, I started noticing that Richard lacked some features that are required to rightly declare it a boy. On the other hand, it did have some other features boys aren't supposed to have. In other words, it was a girl.
I never changed Richard's name into something different, as I figured that we are beyond this type of sexism now.
I acquired Richard on 8 October 2008. She died on 21 September 2010.
|Edzard-Aline, my second golden hamster|
Although I had really liked Richard, I was very much in doubt I wanted another hamster and I was seriously considering a few rats instead, because rats are bigger and more sociable. I remember their constant chattering during the night during my years as a student, when I did have several rats. In the end, I decided for a new hamster anyway.
Instead of going to PJ'S PETS at Yonge and Eglinton, a small store, I decided to acquire the new hamster at PJ'S PETS at Yonge and Brookdale in Toronto. Wanting a hamster that didn't look like Richard, I pointed to the only other choice the store had at the time, and that was it.
This time, it was rather obvious that the new hamster was a boy. In continuation of my non-sexist name-giving, I called him Edzard-Aline, as an homage to Edzard Ernst, the world's first and most respected professor of alternology (alternative medicine) and to Aline Colle-Vandevelde (also known as Aline Vandevelde), almost certainly the bravest anatomist my native Belgium has ever known, and a woman for whom I have tremendous admiration, for it is thanks to her that I learned what "evidence-based" and the "scientific method" really mean.
Even though he did seem to sleep incredibly restful sleeps in the beginning, that was an illusion. He was a very anxious little critter and I even caught him a few times having nightmares.
I acquired Edzard-Aline on 22 September 2010 and he died suddenly and completely unexpectedly and far too soon during the night between 18 and 19 December 2011.
|Christopher, my third golden hamster|
When Edzard-Aline died, I remembered my hesitation to buy a new hamster and go the rat-route instead. In order to stop such feelings in the bud, I went back to PJ'S PETS the very same morning to acquire a new hamster, this time at Yonge and Eglinton again. To my delight, they had a hamster in the original wild-style agouti colouring. Without hesitation, I bought her and brought her home.
In homage to Christopher Hitchens, a man whom I originally detested, but had learned to respect tremendously over time and who died only 4 days earlier, I named the new hamster Christopher even though it was very clear to me that it was (and still is ^_^) a girl.
Christopher turns out to be rather skittish, but not nearly as much as Edzard-Aline and she has allowed me to pick her up a few times, even though it is obvious that she doesn't like it one bit. We will see what the future brings. I will definitely do my best to give her the happy life she can and should expect in my care.
I acquired Christopher on 19 December 2011 and I wish her a very happy and long life.