Sparky the Hamster

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.

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in By Charlie
  1. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    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… 😀

    • Author

      Oh my!! Your story is pretty salacious though!! It even ends dramatically in cannibalism!! Wow! 😳lol That’s masterful!! ❤️😃

      • Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

        LOL! Hamsters are just weird creatures that provide their owners with lots of great (or barf-worthy) stories! 🙂 You’re so funny! <3

  2. Sand Salt Moon 7 years ago

    My brother had an iguana. Me – a small turtle and goldfish. Love this little curios creature’s expression

    • Author

      I only ever had one fish, I’ll save that story for a other post. Hehe…but an iguana… they’re really interesting creatures to look at. Wonder if they have a personality though. Hehe

  3. amaryllislog 7 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      Haha! That’s totally awesome Cathe!! Love that you said “at least a sheep” 😉 I think those are awesome names for turtles though. What would you have named you cow if you got one?

  4. Awesome drawing, great (and funny) story. What materials did you use?

    • Author

      Thanks Megan!! 😃I just use a small 3.5×5″ Moleskine watercolor album, M. Graham paints, Escoda Versatil travel brushes, and a Carbon Platinum fountain pen. I tried a lot of different things, but this is where I landed!

  5. Damita M-S 7 years ago

    I love your stories. I felt bad for you with Miss Satan but I couldn’t help laughing out loud. You did a good doodlewash of Sparky. What a great memory😂😂

    • Author

      Thanks friend! ❤️😃Hehe…it was a crazy story that I suddenly remembered so I figured I’d try to doodlewash first hamster! 😊Glad you like him!

  6. Kari 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Ohhhhhh… If you get an elephant I’m going to be sooooo jealous!! I love them!! But that makes me want to try doodlewashing one at least! Yay! 😃

  7. Mamabear Chronicles 7 years ago

    LOL!! Very well done. 😀

  8. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    How sweet, lovely drawing.

  9. Nancy 7 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      Thanks Nancy!! ❤️😃I think I spent a few more minutes on Sparky! But all of my doodlewashes are less than an hour as that’s all the time I have each day lately. Hehe Awwww…dogs are still the best and Nipper sounds amazing!! 😃

  10. Catherine Johnson 7 years ago

    What a sad story! Cute painting 😃

  11. memadtwo 7 years ago

    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)

    • Author

      Hehe…see? Hamsters just scream for “S” names though I’m not sure why! Those hamsters sound really fun Kerfe!! 😃❤️ And I still can’t remember Satan’s real name, but I’m petty sure it must have started with an “S.” 😉

  12. Jodi 7 years ago

    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!!!

    • Author

      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! 😊

  13. Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Hehe…those Charlie’s can be a handful I hear! LOL He sounds just like Satan! 😳 But hopefully he went where Sparky went! Hehe And thanks!! ❤️😃 Glad you like the doodlewash. I was pleased with how little Sparky turned out! Made me miss him!! 😊

  14. Carmel Campbell 7 years ago

    He is really cute. Your colors are always so good. We did not have a hamster. We did have gerbils and pet rats or at least my boys did.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Carmel!! 😃💜Hehe…pet rats always freaked me out, but yet I still found them cute! Lol I had a friend who had one.

  15. caritaconcolita 7 years ago

    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.

  16. Rebecca 7 years ago

    He’s great – you’ve made his fur look so soft, and his eyes so bright. Kudos!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Rebecca!!! 😃💜 I’m glad you like him! I wasn’t sure about the fur but just went for it. I really enjoy doodlewashing animals. 😊

  17. lizintheshed 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Actually Nipper is a great name!! Hehe…sounds just like Satan. She was scary!! And thank you so much for following my blog and your lovely comments! 😃😃 And for referring me to your pupils! Cool! (Maybe they might like to be a guest here!)

  18. jmnowak 7 years ago

    Such a cutie and lovely doodlewash. He looks like a dog, getting ready to go out and waiting for you to put on the leash! A Corgi. Maybe you’d secretly like a Corgi…!! 😉

    • Author

      Actually I was looking at corgis recently! Haha…maybe some of that slipped in. They’re super cute!! Glad you liked Sparky, Janina! Thanks!! 😃

  19. Scribble Fiend 7 years ago

    Super cute! And the story – well, you’ve inspired me to never get a hamster, ha ha!

    • Author

      Haha!! Thanks! 😃Oh no! They can be cute though…but yeah… No guarantee that you aren’t taking a pint-sized Satan home. 😳

  20. Jacob 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jacob!! Glad you liked my Sparky doodlewash!! 😃 Love the name Trance…that’s awesome. And sounds like Misty and Snowball took a terrible turn while working out their differences! 😳 But they are pretty intriguing little creatures! 😉

      • Jacob 7 years ago

        Ha, I wish I could remember why I called him Trance! Most of my other pets (fish) were just called Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and so on!

  21. ADORABLE! Love this❤ I too had a hamster named Boopers.

  22. Susan Feniak 7 years ago

    Sparky has a very expressive face. Perhaps it is “like” or one could hope. Great hamster stories are rare! 🙂

  23. […] I was one of the kids lucky enough to be given a hamster, I wasn’t allowed to also have a goldfish. When my whining grew too great, my mother finally […]

  24. Sandra Strait 4 years ago

    Ah, the memories of childhood pets. I did have a few of the usual kind mixed in with the lions and tigers. Never a hamster, but a guinea pig or two or three. What monsters we are in our innocence. Probably something to remember when dealing with monsters.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      hehe… yeah this was a great memory! 😃💕 Thanks, Sandra! And yes, I think that’s certainly something to remember. 😉

  25. […] I never got one, or any of the other random animals I suddenly wanted to invite home. I was given a little golden hamster instead to placate me, but I always felt like I was missing out on something. I’m sure that […]

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