The assholic things my roommate does in the name of compassion.

First, let me preface this by saying that I am unabashedly an animal lover. Some of the lowest moments in my life have been saying goodbye to a cherished animal companion, and I understand the bond that people can form with an animal.

That said, I wish I knew what the fuck was going on in my roommate’s head. She’s generally a pretty nice person, if a bit loopy and misguided. But I’m afraid that she’s gone completely off the deep end this time.

See, she’s got this hamster, “Sart”. [tangent] (Only recently did I find out its name is actually Sartre, and she’s just been mispronouncing it for the last three years. :wink: But anyway.) [/tangent] Sart has by all accounts lived a long, full, and healthy life of the sort that hamsters live; his days have been spent in a carefree mixture of sleeping, loading his jowls up with food, and banging into the furniture in his plastic ball. And the time, it seems, has come for that life to draw to its’ natural conclusion.

Only my roommate won’t let it happen.

A few weeks ago, Sart seemed to be taking ill; he was even less energetic than usual, and was mostly uninterested in things like eating and moving about. He also appeared to be losing his fur. Now, a normal person at this point would consign themselves to the inevitable, that their pet has lived its natural life and is slowly moving to the great beyond, and take steps to make that process involve as little suffering as possible for the animal.

But clearly, my roommate is not a normal person. Instead of doing the above, she whisked him off to a vet and spent $100 to have him looked at. (This is the same person who regularly has to “wait till I’m paid” to pay her share of the bills.) The vet prescribed some sort of medication for the fur loss and tactfully tried to suggest that maybe Sart’s time was due, advice that fell on deaf ears. (I know, I read the diagnosis sheet.) The roomie dutifully applied the cream that the vet gave her, and haughtily rebuffed any suggestion by myself and the other roommate that perhaps Sart’s time was up.

And when, to no one’s surprise but her own, the hamster’s condition failed to improve, she called the vet AGAIN in an attempt to prolong his clear suffering and misery. And so now, per the vet’s very reluctant advice, she is giving the hamster subcutaneous injections of Benadryl in an effort to keep him alive, despite the fact that Sart has now been reduced to a largely hairless bundle of quivering, miserable pink that once a day or so ventures forth for a few nuggets of food. And meanwhile she’s discussing taking him in to the vet a second time.

And so, because I don’t have the heart to say it to her face, I’ll say it here. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Let your damn hamster end its life peacefully instead of mercilessly dragging it out for days and weeks just to feed your own sense of sick, misguided affection and gratification. I’m not even sure why you liked the thing in the first place; after all, it occasionally likes to repay your affection by biting, HARD. Or have you already forgotten the time a couple months ago when Sart abruptly dug into your thumb so forcefully that drops of your blood sprayed onto the carpet? You stupid, self-centered bitch cow. Does the fact that your pet is clearly suffering and in pain mean nothing to you?

But then, I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from her. After all, she once told me that growing up, her family had a dog that lived to be 19…largely because instead of putting it to sleep, they spent $$$ at the vet so it could life the last six months of its life blind and paralyzed while they carried it to the food dish so it could eat and the backyard to so it could let go of waste.

Isn’t bringing a hamster to the vet sort of like bringing a Bic lighter to a mechanic?

ducks and looks for cover

Perhaps it’s hard for her. YOu know? It isn’t always easy.

It is hard, no doubt, Guinastasia. I’m one of the biggest bleeding-heart animal lovers you’ll ever meet, and the choice to put an animal down really tears me up. So much so in fact that I’ve avoided family decisions to take that step with cats of ours that got extremely ill–I knew I was thinking more of myself than of the animal’s comfort.

I’ve poured money into pet health care and will continue to do so, but the idea of prolonging an animal’s life when there’s no joy left in it just upsets me.

I can understand schief2’s frustration here… the animal will probably not survive, and is suffering more because the roommate can’t let go. I’m all for trying to fix health problems, but if she can’t handle having Sart put to sleep (and see above, I know I’d have trouble doing it too, it sucks big time to lose a pet), she should lay off the injections and let him die with as little poking and prodding as possible. There are reasonable measures, and then there’s just making the poor thing miserable-- and it seems even her vet doesn’t really think she’s taking the best course here.

I can’t believe the vet actually gave her the choice of giving the poor thing injections by herself. That’s a big deal for such a little critter.

It sucks to be Sart, but with any luck his expiration date is right around the corner. I have gerbils (please, no Richard Gere jokes. Really.) and when you get small animals, you know that they’ve got a limited life span. I took them to the vet when they were babies because they had sores on their noses, but with medicine it cleared up and I never had another problem, so I don’t think taking them to the vet is necessarily a bad thing. At least she takes the responsibiility of pet ownership seriously. A lot of people consider small animals to be disposable, and they really aren’t. I think it’s unfair to allow them to be sick if they can be helped. But to take Sart to the vet to cure him of imminent death is pretty selfish. The vet should have told her there was nothing that could be done. Instead it seem like they’re just letting her toture him.

I don’t envy you having to sit by watching this sad mess.

It’s not that bad: I had a cat, (who I still miss) who had a blood condition similar to anemia. I had the choice of having him put to sleep or giving him daily injections. I hated doing it, he didn’t like getting 'em, but he lived another year before the stuff (some sort of steroid, I believe) stopped working. It was a pretty good year for him too. Boy, did he get spoiled. ::wistful smile::

That said, what the roommate is doing is completely understandable, but probably a bad idea. But it takes time to get used to it. My guess is she’s in either the “denial” or “bargining” stage of loss. It sucks to be there, 'specially if its the first time the decision falls on you and not your family.


My parents had a cat that had diabetes and she needed daily injections for three years. I did it a few times and it seems like giving a hamster an injection would be pretty difficult. They’re so little and squirmy (although I guess if Sart is dying, he may not put up much resistance). It just seems like it would be a bigger deal to a hamster than a cat. They have so much less surface area and if you inject to deeply or quickly, you could really do some damage.

The roommate is definitely in denial. Losing a pet is never easy and it’s really hard to decide when is a good time to let them go. It’s not a lesson easily learned.

I am going through the same situation with my sister. She and her hubby are “rat people” - they have seven. I think that’s fine if that’s what they like. However, their most elderly rat, Frankie, developed a mass on her back a few weeks ago. They tearfully shuffled her off to the vet, who removed the mass for biopsy, performed X-rays, and prescribed a topical ointment - all for the measly sum of $125. The next week, they found three more masses, which turned out to be abcesses. She won’t eat, play, or move about. She has another vet’s appointment this week to remove the other abcesses, and as my sister said over the Sunday dinner table, “Explore the most aggressive treatments available.” Egads! I could have bought her fifty new, shiny, disease- and abcess-free rats for less than she’s spending to keep that poor, miserable, aged rat alive a few more days. I know she has an emotional attachment to the rat, and I know to her it’s a big deal. But I sometimes wonder if she isn’t losing sight of the bigger picture.

I actually went through a similar situation with my mom and our first pet, a chihuahua (which is pretty similar to a rat, actually) named Fiona. Anyway, Fiona had a happy life for around 15 or so years and then her liver gave out which to me is the Head Honcho saying "Get yer butt up here, pick up yer damn wings and/or harp and get to singin’ dude!’ but my mother, ever the clingy one, was going to use the vast store of human veterinary knowledge to drag the process out for months if possible. I never suspected she had that sadistic ‘mad scientist’ streak in her, but she did. After a month or so, the poor dog was reduced to lying helplessly on her bed except when she staggered outside to excrete stuff. Nobody sees Fiona anymore but Mom as it sickens the rest of us to see the dog in that much pain.
Now, it’s Wyoming and it’s winter which means it’s COLD outside. So my brother and I, after a particularly filling dinner, decide we’re going to take the trash out. Well guess what we found on the back patio! Fiona, frozen solid on the concrete. Mom had apparently forgotten to let her in after putting her out that morning. Being the sensitive teenagers that we were, we didn’t think to much of it (I remember thinking ‘Wow, dogs dead’) and promptly peeled her off the frozen concrete and took the stiff corpse into the kitchen to show the folks. I distinctly remember waving the board-stiff corpse in front of her by it’s back legs and saying nonchalantly ‘Hey, check out what happened to the dog’ and not realizing anything was wrong until the bowl she was holding hit the floor and the screaming at us started. Anyway, once the furor was over it was decided to punish ‘the boys’ for being insensitive bastards and we were banished to the tundra outside to dig a grave. We spent the next hour cursing small dogs, the weather, God, and especially irresponsible pet owners. I’ve long since had a ‘don’t recuscitate’ order b/c the idea of me being a veggie for years (and the fact that they still live in WY) gives me the willies.
As sort of a humorous aside, as the years have gone by and I have told my friends this tale of woe, several alternate suggestions have come up as to the best way to broach Fiona’s untimely yet ultimately merciful death to the folks. They include:

Putting Fiona in the freezer with her frozen head peeking from between two packages of hamburger.

Standing her upright (which we’d have to do by using water I guess) on the patio, wrapping her in a sweater and leaving her as a grotesque ice statue.

Some other ones that I can’t remember (feel free to add any that strike your fancy)…

Anyway, here’s hoping you don’t live in a cold climate–or maybe you should. I’ve always heard that freezing to death is a good way to go… :wink:

Oh, I agree-it’s horrible to let poor little Sart live in pain like that. I’m just sayin’, that’s all.

I just wanted to pop in and say, medical, ethical, and pet dilemmas aside, that “Sart” is about the closest we Americans can get to correctly pronouncing the French name “Sartre,” in which the final e is silent and the penultimate r is way in the back of the throat and very softly spoken.

Poor Sartre probably feels like he’s inside his namesake’s play No Exit right about now, though.


My best friend is a freak. She’s openly admitted that she doesn’t care for people at all; she loves me because we’ve been best friends since early childhood, and she likes my kids because they’re mine. She also loves her parents and (I think) her husband. As for everyone else in the world, she admits that she has no compassion or interest, and she says she couldn’t care less when people, even children, are dying or in pain. I’m sure she could watch an acquaintance being beaten and burned to death with nothing more than mild interest.

As for animals, well, they’re another story. She’s always had several pets and tortured each one to death in the name of love. The worst example was her dog, Tipper, who led a completely spoiled and happy existence until he was about 12, when he became listless, arthritic, and stopped eating.

My friend took him to the vet daily, sometimes twice per day; she had the vet’s home phone number on her speed dial. (I bet he regretted giving her his number.) She took the dog to one specialist after another, sometimes driving hundreds of miles. Tipper’s kidneys were failing. She started taking him regularly to a vet endocrinologist, three hours away.

She gave the dog a liter of subcutaneous fluids every day. She fed him by hand. By this time, he was blind, incontinent, and had such terrible arthritis that it was too painful for him to move, even with the arthritis meds my friend gave him. He vomited all the time. He basically just laid around, too weak and sick to wag his tail.

This went on for three years. Finally, even my friend realized he might die. She drove him back to the specialist and demanded one more round of bloodwork before she’d have Tipper put to sleep. So, poor Tipper got poked with more needles and sat around in this vet’s office all day, miles from home, while they waited for the results. The vet said there was nothing more she could do, and my friend finally had Tipper put down.

Afterwards, she asked me if she’d been selfish to keep Tipper clinging to life for so long. Pheh.

I understand your feelings completely, scheif. I’m a vet tech. People bring in their pets that obviously need to be put out of their misery, and it is MY job to tend to the poor creature. I have to watch it suffer, I have to do things to it that cause it more pain, I have to clean up its urine, blood, feces and vomit. I cannot understand how people who love their pets would be willing to force their pet to live its last days in a cage, surrounded by strangers who poke and prod…Just last week we treated a cat who had heart disease. The disease caused the cat to throw a clot to its back legs. The cat was paralyzed. It is extremely painful and the prognosis is poor. Cats rarely recover. The cat was crying and thrashing and gasping for air. We had to put it in the oxygen cage. And yet, the owners elected to attempt treatment. The cat hung on for two days, dragging itself around the oxygen cage, half out of its mind with pain despite the meds. Finally the owner decided it was time to euthanize. But before the owner could get to the clinic to be with the cat, the cat decided it couldn’t hold on any longer and he died, miserably, on his own.

I have a million of these stories. I see things like this, and worse, almost every night I work. I understand being in denial…up to a point. And yes, I own several pets, have gone through losing pets, so I understand the pain. But my coworkers and I always see these sad cases and we tell each other, “If I bring in my pet one day and it looks like this (pointing to a dying patient) and I want to treat it…shoot me. Don’t let me do this to my pet.”

$100 sounds a bit high for examining a hampster, but I digress. What I wanted to say is that when I was a child I had lots of small furry rodent pets that I loved. Once, when one of them developed a sore that wouldn’t heal, my mom and I brought her to the vet. It turned out to be some kind of painful incurable disease and I let the vet put the mouse out of her misery. The vet was very nice about it and charged only a minimal fee for his time.

Moral of this story: It’s not that rare to take a rodent to the vet, but it’s really selfish to keep it alive and in pain.
Just my 2cents.

{{{schief2}}} {{{Sart}}}

Yep, that sucks in a truly big way. Having raised purebred cats I have had to deal with that more times than I ever wanted to.

For me, what it comes down to is quality vs quantity. I have no idea if this will have any effect on your roommate’s denial, but question I always have to ask myself when contemplating further treatment for any living being is… Will this treatment give them more quality of life, or just more quantity?

If the answer is quantity, it’s time to let them go, if the answer is quality, you still have to ask yourself how much quality, and what is the likelihood that the treatment will give them quality long term.

I hope Sart decided to take the decision out of your roommate’s hands soon.


I had a cat who was my baby. When I came home, he would “Meow” at me and stand on his back paws and reach his front paws up to me to pick him up. If I was sitting, my lap was never empty. If I got up, he resisted my urging him off my lap. (I never knew a cat could cling so tenaciously to a completely vertical person!) He was literally my teddy bear at night.

That being said, when he became sick (stopped eating, dropped weight, stayed in his cardboard box almost all the time) we did our best to find out what it was. We tried antibiotics and force feeding on the advice of our vet. We took him to a specialist who finally diagnosed him with lung cancer and suggested we try a medicine that was successful 25% of the time. The medicine seemed to help(the tumor grew very little) but by then he was only six pounds and very sad.

It broke my heart to say “Goodbye” but it broke my heart even more to see him like that. We did what we could to find out what was wrong and help him, and when it was obvious we weren’t doing him any favors, we let him go.

When we keep an animal beyond their time, we aren’t doing it for them.