In Glacier's Eyes
The average life of a hedgehog is pretty plain and simple. You have a bin, some blankets or shavings, a wheel, and maybe a toilet paper tube. You get fed everyday, maybe some cat food and the occasional meal worm or cricket. You have a bottle of fresh water that is available any time you want it. It’s a nice life. A good life. I was the average hedgehog, but my life was as far from average as you could ever imagine.
My name is Glacier. I was named at an early age for my snow white quills by my new family. I was born in the warm, friendly city of Tampa, Florida on January 9, 2004. The first week escapes my memory because I was too weak and feeble to witness the outside world. I lived my first few weeks not knowing what exceeded the walls of my temporary home. After my 8th week of life, I was brought to a large, nice home in a plastic box. As I scrambled around in the box, three giants stared down at me with bug eyes, awaiting my every move.
That’s when I heard my new name for the first time, “Glacier!” The other two giants nodded and smiled in agreement. And from that moment on I was a part of this happy family.
I began my journey in this new family, living in a normal bin, in the room of a little boy named Jake. He would poke his head into my bin and watch me eat, drink, and tube with the most cheerful smile on his face. He would often pick me up and place me under his shirt. Then I would wait for him to shove his head into his shirt and watch me some more. I was extremely nervous and uncomfortable and would simply ball up into a sphere, and wait for him to put me back. Jake was persistent. He was patient but often attempted to get me to show him my face and get comfortable on his warm skin. It was an exciting day for Jake, when I decided that he wasn’t going to harm me, and I simply splatted on his chest and went to sleep. This was the final bond between me and my new best friend.
In Tampa, I was often taken out of my bin, and shown to new people in new places. I was taken into stores and hidden so I wouldn’t be seen. When people would try to pet me close to my face, I would huff and puff and Jake would scold the person. I would be brought to a place full of mini people oooing and awwwing as I would sit on desks stunned, but every thing would be fine cause I knew that Jake would be right behind me. I thought that this would be my routine lifestyle. I was in for a big surprise.
In the summer of 2005, I was loaded into a small black bag with mesh sides, and placed on top of a suitcase in a large silver van. With one last goodbye to our home, we were off. I sat on the side of the bag and watched the world fly by. On our trip, we stopped at many gas stations and markets. Jake would take me outside and place me against his chest. The smell of oil mixed with wheat filled the air. The three day trip left me exhausted and confused, so I was overjoyed when we reached our next new home.
That summer, we arrived in the hot arid land of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was very sandy and boring. Me and Jake’s room was small but roomy. I was in a new bin with new blankets and a new wheel. I liked our new home. It wasn’t hard to settle into. Jake was home schooled which meant that he could be home with me all day long. He would sit with me on his front porch and look at the Rocky Mountains off in the distance. I loved the freshness and beauty of our backyard and environment that we lived in. It was great.
Later the next year, I was wrapped up in a blue blanket and brought to a small field occupied with blue tables and women in Minnesota Vikings cheerleading outfits. Jake seemed excited about the event, so I did my best to look the same.
Jake took me to one of the tables, and lightly set me down on the blue pad. I looked up to see the Vikings Cheerleaders staring down at me with goo-goo eyes.
“He’s so adorable,” one of them said.
“Aww, look at him,” squeaked another. I could tell Jake was enjoying it and I couldn’t help but enjoy the experience myself. At the end of the day, Jake placed a small blue ribbon on my back that said “First Place.”
In January of 2007, we packed up again and took another trip to another new home. My trip was spent sitting on Jake’s lap watching the pouring rain outside the window. As I splatted on his chest, he stroked my furry hand with his finger and we both fell asleep.
Days later, we arose from the inside of our car and I could smell the crisp air and scent of wet grass. It was extremely refreshing after one and a half years of the desert. We loaded our things into an enormous house and I was introduced to my third room. It was very big and I had a designated spot in the corner of the room right next to Jake’s bed.
Life in Montgomery, Alabama was very rewarding. I was often brought outside to explore the grass and forest, with Jake standing over me, protecting me. There was even room to venture in the inside of the house. I would run around on the hard wood floor and do whatever I wanted.
As Jake grew older, he got into friends and sports and video games, but always made sure I had all the attention I needed. He always made time to hold me and make sure I was happy. Nothing could separate us.
In Jake’s sixth grade year, he brought me to his school to show me off again to his friends. I was placed on another table to get viewed by more people but I didn’t mind. I was used to it by now. Jake let some people pet me but didn’t let others. Anyone Jake could trust, I could trust.
For my birthday in 2008, Jake took me out of my bin and set me down on the floor. I was unsure about what he was doing but I knew it would be safe. Minutes later, Jake came back with a plate filled with meal worms and crickets. I couldn’t contain myself and immediately jumped on the plate. Before long, the plate was empty and I was laying on my side with my tummy being rubbed by my buddy Jake. It was the best birthday ever.
In my fifth year, we moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It was very hot and humid and wasn’t the best environment, but I could manage. We moved into a small house on the water. Jake wasn’t very pleased with the size of our room but made sure I had the space I needed.
That year, Jake got me a big blue wheel that was very quiet. I loved my wheel, but my time with it was cut short. One night in May 2009, Jake walked into our room to find me laying on my side with blood on my stomach. I didn’t know what was happening, but I was in a lot of pain. Jake and his mother took me to the animal hospital. The doctor took me to another room away from Jake and that’s where I lost it. I squirmed and tried to wriggle away from the doctor but she stabbed me with an excruciatingly sharp needle and I lost consciousness.
That year, we learned that I had kidney stones and arthritis in my lower back. Jake started to feed me more meal worms and different foods like hedgehog formula food and pears, but that meant I got to spend even more time with him. Soon afterwards, I got cataracts in my left eye and I lost sight in it, but that was just the beginning.
Later that year I lost control of my back leg. Jake took even more care of me and made sure I was doing fine every day. In a trip back to my homeland of Tampa, Florida, Jake took me out every day and gave me food and water. Jake noticed my lack of movement in my legs and picked me up and helped me make my way around.
When we got back to Fort Walton Beach, I was put back into my old bin and Jake watched me intently every day. I no longer walked around. I just sat and waited for Jake to hold me against his chest.
The next week, Jake’s mother brought me to the vet and held me for a very long hour. She snuggled with me and comforted me, making sure I was calm and content. The vet checked me out then let me go back to my bin. I waited the rest of the day for my buddy to get home and hold me.
That night after Jake finished his homework, he gently took me out of my bin and held me against his warm face. As he talked to me delicately, I could hear Sandra Bullock’s movie “Miss Congeniality” in the back ground. Jake put me in his mother’s arms and got ready for bed. While in the affectionate comforting arms of my surrogate mother, I started to smack my lips and got an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Jake started to worry and beg his mother to call the emergency vet. I couldn’t tell him but I knew I didn’t have much time left.
Jake took me in a blanket and scrambled to the car. We were off in minutes to a veterinary emergency room in a small town 30 minutes away. Jake held me close to his chest and just talked to me. I stayed as still and calm as possible and just looked at him with my one good eye.
I had lived a great long life. I had many adventures and got anything a hedgehog could ever ask for. A loving family, a great home, and a best friend. And as we pulled into the parking lot, with him stroking my cheek, our eyes connected and I said one last goodbye to my good buddy Jake.