March 9 1998 - September 20 1999


Last night my sonís pet mouse died. He named her "Sprite" because he was holding a bottle of that soft drink when he was trying to come up with a name for her. It seemed to fit, a mouse being a sprightly thing.

A pet mouse is a naturally sympathetic creature since mice are weak and timid and have many predators. Walt Disney once commented on this fact when he was interviewed about the success of the one he created that he named Mickey. When Ethan and I arrived at the pet store and asked to see the mice, I was taken aback when asked, "Do you want a pet mouse or a feeder mouse?" (In other words, a mouse to feed to a snake or something else.) After only $1.99 plus tax had changed hands, I realized just how cheap a mouseís life can be.

Sprite was an amusing little creature who enjoyed crawling through cardboard toilet paper tubes. She would also gnaw them. She never showed any interest in the exercise cage we bought, but loved to grab the occasional bit of cracker or stale piece of bread handed to her. Sprite also seemed to enjoy being held and it was fun to rub her head and ears; when she would blissfully close her eyes and remain motionless.

During the last few days Sprite was slow and listless, and obviously fatter than she had been. Realizing that a mouseís natural life span is about a year and a half, we suspected the end was near, and gave her special attention. During the evening Cari held her for a long period of time and petted her, and could feel her heart slowing down. It stopped altogether shortly after we put her back in her cage. Ethan found a cardboard box for her, and we placed her in a nest of bedding, and retired her cage to the attic.

I had the sad task of telling my daughters about Spriteís death the night before, and they both cried inconsolably, as did my wife (who was frequently close to tears anyway). Earlier that day, upon returning home from school, Ethan buried her near a bridge crossing a creek, a Sprite can as a marker. It was rainy that day, and everyone was gloomy.

I have never really owned a pet before - my parents bought a poodle when I was about six, which we quickly got rid of - so I had never understood the attachment pet owners have for their animals. Itís funny how this inconsequential mouse has changed my attitude. As little and insignificant as she was, Sprint was a part of our household, and I, too, am sad sheís gone.