I’ve had this little poke rat for a whole year now! Actually, it’s been a year and a month, but she doesn’t know that this is a belated celebration. My calendar forgot to ding me. Go figure.
A year ago, I was just getting ready to go to Queen’s. I’d moved into my own little apartment a 10 minute walk from the student “ghetto” and I was the loneliest I’ve ever been without a heartbreak being involved. For the first time, I wasn’t traveling. I wasn’t hanging out with my brothers, who had become my besties during my childhood on the road. My companion was living hundreds of miles away, struggling to get his feet underneath him, just like me. I had no friends at school, a roommate I didn’t really relate to or see often, and no friends in Kingston. I wasn’t doing so hot.
And then, Mom asked me if I wanted to get a hedgehog.
Um. Heck yes, I did. I’d wanted a hedgehog for at least three years, but Dad was pretty firm on not getting pets after the two rabbits I had at 10 years old died of old age and (let’s face it) mistreatment, and the guinea pigs had to find another home when we left for Europe. Pets + travelling lifestyle + four kids wasn’t a combo he was into. The first thing I got when I moved out, besides toilet paper and cleaning supplies, was a fish. Starting small seemed like a good idea. His name is Jules. He sits on my desk and to this day he’s my study buddy.
But you can’t cuddle a fish. Fish aren’t warm or fluffy or fun to hang out with, most of the time. No offence, Jules.
Clove was tiny, grouchy, and fiercely afraid when I first saw her bundled up in a tiny sleeping bag on the way home with Mom. She was about the size of a tennis ball… a seriously spiky tennis ball with an attitude. Her first adventure was an escape routine in the middle of her first night home. She left her box and fell asleep under the couch. It took half an hour to find her.
Now, she’s all grown up. She’s a lot bigger, a little bigger than a softball when she rolls up. She’s much less grumpy (most of the time) and is constantly finding new tricks to stash up her sleeve. She can run faster than you can chase her and somehow she can always figure out how to get under the one couch I don’t want her to get under. She eats the spiders for me, but refuses to eat the fruit flies and ants. I guess spiders have a certain leggy crunch she enjoys.
She prefers sleeping in my fluffy comforter to sleeping in her own bed, when she can get away with it. She bites the buttons on my shirt. I think she’s annoyed that she doesn’t fit in my sleeves anymore. And she absolutely loves watching movies in the evening with me. She’ll snuggle up under a blanket on my lap and sometimes she’ll poke her face out and actually watch the show for a bit. She’s pretty much my favourite, and she keeps me company. I have a few friends now and I love Kingston, but it’s nice to be able to come home to a spiky fluff ball to chill with in the evenings.
Happy birthday, Prickly Princess!
A note on the party: the “cake” was made with all hedgie-safe ingredients. It was a pumpkin cake with yogurt “frosting” with a little flour mixed in for the right consistency. Although she loves pumpkin, she didn’t eat much of it, probably because it was her first experience with yogurt. I don’t think she’s a fan. She had a few of her other favourite treats as well, including: a tiny piece of cooked unseasoned chicken, crunchy freeze-dried maggots (ick), and two or three teeny tiny cornbread muffins, the size of a pencil eraser.