Sparky the Hamster by Charlie O'Shields

I love animals and as it turns out, I find them super fun to doodlewash, so here’s another for today. Why I settled on a hamster will reveal itself shortly, but it was also another exercise in layering and color mixing. I’m somehow more delicate with my animal doodles versus my buildings, which I tend to just start attacking with all the colors at once.

This little guy was named Sparky and he was my childhood hamster. He was cuddly and cute and extremely friendly. He had a rather elaborate system of tubes to play in as well an exercise wheel, which he never really used, preferring other pursuits like burrowing under the wood chips to hide from people. Sparky and I had much in common.

It’s rather difficult to tell if a hamster actually likes you. They seem curious and inquisitive, but less like they care and more like an elderly aunt you seldom see who has completely forgotten your name. Sparky was just so cute, that it really didn’t matter. And he seemed to enjoy being held, as he always sat very still and became calm. Now as I type this I realize he was probably just totally terrified and playing possum.

One day, I came home from school and rushed up to check on Sparky. I couldn’t see him immediately, but this was always the case. I waited for him to come out from his wood chip man cave and meet me for the first time again, but he never came. It was then I noticed one of the tubes had been carefully pulled away and Sparky had made a break for it. I looked everywhere in the house, and even left out food, but he was sadly nowhere to be found. I spent the requisite “feels like an eternity” kid-style mourning period of about 2-3 days before I asked my mom for a replacement.

The replacement came in the form of a new and slightly smaller golden hamster. This one was female. And while I could never quite tell if Sparky liked me, she made it completely clear that she hated me. She had played it like the lonely sweet orphan in the store, but once in my house, she was pissed.

I can’t even remember her actual name because I started calling her Satan. She would not tolerate being held and would immediately start hissing and spitting if you tried to touch her. If you thought you could calm her down by holding her, you’d instead find yourself riddled with brown bullets as she tried to assassinate you.

It was less than a week later, and I was still devastated that my sweet little Sparky had gone and left me with a demonic hamster, when I heard a scratching noise. I wasn’t sure at first where it was coming from, but I soon discovered it was coming from the closet. I slid open the door to reveal… Sparky! At least I thought it must be him, his cheeks were six times larger than I remember them. My child brain was in peril as it seemed like my choices were limited to the now-deformed hamster I loved or the screaming banshee in the cage. I didn’t want either of them!

Luckily, a quick check in the encyclopedia helped me to discover that Sparky’s mumps were simply a case of food hoarding, and would go away. Satan’s condition, however, wasn’t listed so I assumed she must be covered by the store’s return policy. And so things would soon be returned to normal! Of course now I see plainly that Sparky had tried to escape so he didn’t like me much more than Satan, but at least he wasn’t violent about it.

I never had another hamster after these. And I’m sure hamsters everywhere were breathing a sigh of relief. Even if he wasn’t actually fond of me, I still remember Sparky fondly. He’s now in a hamster heaven somewhere with all of his actual friends doing the world’s largest hamster dance. And Satan is… well… exactly where you might expect.

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

50 replies on “Sparky the Hamster

  1. Hahaha! Another awesome story to go with your beautiful Doodlewash! I owned 3 hamsters. 2 of them I adopted from the biopsychology lab I used to work in as an undergrad. I named them Vanilla Twinkie and Peanut Butter (not because I was obsessed with food…well, okay, I always have been…but because VT was beige on the head and butt and white in the middle, and PB was light brown all over). One morning, I went to check on them and found, to my horror that Peanut Butter had died overnight and Vanilla Twinkie had, in hampster fashion, started eating him. I much prefer your story…😀

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  2. Sparky is adorable! And as for the story, totally awesome. I had two small turtles delivered at Christmas from Santa, I really wanted a cow or at least a sheep…but the turtles worked out fine, Harry and Harvey. We can assume my parents were very smart with critter choices.

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  3. Sparky and Satan.. How adorable!! Just like your doodlewash! My girls always wanted one but we weren’t sure if my son would be allergic to them since he’s allergic to most animals.. So I’m wondering what animal will be next.. Perhaps my favorite, the elephant!

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  4. Sparky is a very handsome fellow! I really like all the colors in his fur. It must have taken you some time to do all those layers. When I was growing up I had a dog named Nipper who loved me unconditionally and a parakeet name Max who tolerated me because I fed him. He was less cuddly than Sparky too.

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  5. Also a serial hamster owner. Ours used to escape regularly, one time found by my father when he tried to put on his shoe. We also took them outside and let them run around on the grass. What with the 3 of us manhandling them plus all our friends…no wonder they tried to escape. Your Sparky looks just like our Scurry…or was it Scamper?…they are all mixed up in my mind at this point. One of them anyway. (K)


  6. Oh Charlie – this doodlewash of Sparky is absolutely amazing and adorable!!! It is the love and fond memories you feel that helped you produce such a beautiful tribute?!!! So happy for the ending! Yay Sparky! Boo Satan! lol! Seriously, though, Charlie O, this is one of your FINEST paintings! LOOOOOVVVVEEEE!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww thanks Jodi!! ❤️😃 This one is actually my favorite that I’ve done. Feels like a breakthrough in layering lately. Or maybe I just miss Sparky and wanted him back. Hehe…either way I was pleased with the result! It’s just in my little Moleskine though so sparky won’t make a frame, but he’s at list in an memory album of sorts! 😊

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  7. Funny, your story reminds me of a Gerbil I had as a teen. I have tried to erase this “pet” from my mind. His name – this is the absolute truth – was Charlie! But Charlie was not the cuddly hamster like Sparky. Charlie liked to bite if held or naw on the empty cardboard rolls from TP. He would keep me awake at night chewing away…ugh!!! Maybe Charlie and Sparky are doing a little jig together on the squeaky wheel in heaven? LOL! 😁🐹😳 (BTW – love how you painted Sparky – good work on the fur). Hehe!

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  8. it was very nice to read. I had some guinea pigs in my childhood. one of them, a chicken. another kind of a “macho man” but the female one was very friendly and social-able. I guess all of them hated being held.
    nice doodle.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Just started following your blog – and this made me laugh. My boys have had two dwarf hamsters – the first (Lily) was lovely, the second (can’t remember the original name, but soon called Nipper), was like Satan (far better name). Only I was brave enough to handle her – she had teeth like needles. We now have a couple of gerbils (Baldrick and Percy, from Blackadder – a UK tv series – they are girls, but my son likes Blackadder) – far friendlier and they don’t smell.

    Back to art rather than the story – love the wet in wet fur on the coat – so effective. I am teaching a line and wash workshop this weekend, so will direct the pupils over to your blog. Keep up the lovely work!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hahaha oh my, I’m swooning all over the place at how cute Sparky is. Beautiful, beautiful drawing! Love how you’ve done the fur.

    I too had some hamster mis/adventures as a child: Trance, intrepid to the point of escaping from his hamster ball while there were five cats around (found wandering in the kitchen, safe and sound!) and then Misty and Snowball, who were adorable but fought all the time and were both dead within a couple of months. Didn’t get any after that…

    For such timid, helpless looking creatures, they don’t half surprise you!

    Liked by 1 person

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