The Doppelgänger Experiment

So, how exactly do you explain death to a 3-year old?  If you have an answer, please let me know.  Recently, I could not come up with an answer myself, so I chose to bypass the issue.  Let me explain…

My daughter has, or had, a pet hamster named Eleanor (a reference to the Beatles’ song, “Eleanor Rigby”).  My wife and I aren’t quite sure what happened, but the poor little thing was discovered dead on Wednesday night of last week.  My daughter was asking to give Eleanor a treat before bed when my wife found the hamster’s lifeless body lying in the cage.  Yes, this is very sad… I loved that hamster.  My wife told her that Eleanor was “sleeping” and she could give her a treat tomorrow.  My daughter begrudgingly agreed and went to bed.  Shortly after, I received a phone call, while still at work, of the grim news.

My wife and I talked it over and came to a decision that because we didn’t want to break our daughter’s heart, who also loved the hamster, we would replace her with a look alike.  When I arrived home from work that evening, I cleaned out the cage and sadly put Eleanor to rest.  I woke up the next morning and immediately went to the pet store to purchase another Chinese Dwarf Hamster.  The only problem was that Eleanor was older than the hamsters available at the pet store; this means I was going to be buying a hamster noticeably smaller than the late Eleanor.  I figured it was still worth a shot and selected the larger of the two.  I came home and welcomed the new Eleanor (dubbed Eleanor II to my wife and I) her new and larger home.  Eleanor II is more timid than the original Eleanor, but she eventually made herself at home.

Now for the test.  Before bed that night, my daughter was admiring her pet, when all of a sudden my wife thought we were made.  My daughter exclaimed, “HEY!…  I think we should give Eleanor a treat.”  My wife breathed a sigh of relief, as she later explained, gave Eleanor a treat, and put my daughter to bed.  I asked my daughter the next day what she thought of Eleanor, to which she informed me, “Eleanor is the best hamster in the world!”  Though I feel a little bad, thankfully, the terrible situation seems to have come to a good ending.

So what do you think?  Did we do the right thing, or should we have taken the chance of crushing her young heart?  Who knows, I am just glad “Eleanor” is doing fine.

One thought on “The Doppelgänger Experiment

  1. Our 6 year old’s rabbit died last Spring. Ella was devastated. She still talkes about her bunny, ‘Baby.’
    As far as Eleanor goes, before this version dies and you have to pull another “Moon over Parador” operation you might explain how awesome hamsters are and how unfortunate it is that they don’t live very long and that, one day, even poor Eleanor will die. Tell her that the only upside of outliving your pets is that then you get to meet another, equally cool pet after the first passes. Discuss with her how important it is to enjoy her furry little friend in the short time God has given you together. If she is ready, you can lead this discussion into one about relatives who have passed and how, one day, she will see them again in Heaven. She will likely ask if Eleanor will be there too. If you think thats a possibility you can tell her yes. Personally I think that Heaven will have animals there, why not some of my dearly departed pest?


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