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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Gerbil Family Reunion

By Donna Anastasi
Donna raises and shows gerbils and is a certified AGS judge. Share in her gerbil show experiences.

Herman, a gerbil
Photo By Kylee Dickey
Herman won the 2007 Virtual Show.
Flair, a gerbil
Photo By Donna Anastasi/Courtesy of Christine Stys 
Flair won Best at the New England Show 2007.

Gerbil people – who are we, where do we come from and what magnetic force draws us to southern New Hampshire for the 7th annual New England Gerbil show? This year, 25 kennels are trekking to the show from not just New Hampshire and neighboring Massachusetts and Maine, but from as far away as New York City, Delaware, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oregon, Ohio, Georgia and Florida. We come by train, by plane and mostly by car. We’re accompanied by more than 100 gerbil companions with long, impressive pedigrees. Gerbils that scurry, dig and happily run their wheels at high speed. As gerbil-loving representatives from all regions of the country wind their way northeastward, they rest only to grab a drive-up window meal or, if they are lucky, carry a dozen or more animals in and out of a relative’s home or a pet-friendly hotel en route.

For people whose passion typically elicits snickers, guffaws, raised eyebrows or glazed-over looks, 36 hours of non-stop gerbil talk feels like a homecoming. For us this is a family reunion, a traveling circus, an elite sporting event – a gerbil show is a gathering unlike anything else. There’s no denying it’s a bit quirky, but what would you expect from a band of folks so completely enthralled with a tiny pet rodent that we’ll travel thousands of miles after years of selective breeding and months of dutiful work to pull off a major national event in which we can earnestly contest our cosseted, prize-winning…gerbils?

Bubba, a gerbil
Photo By Emily Poirer
Bubba is an up-and-coming show gerbil.
Marshmallow, a gerbil
Photo By Kelly Johnson
Marshmallow won Best in the Midwest Show 2007.

With old friends we catch up and continue last year’s conversation where we left off. And, there is an instant camaraderie (and the same old thrill dating back to the very first gerbil show) as I meet face-to-face with online gerbil buddies braving their very first gerbil show. Friday night everyone arrives kennel-by-kennel, gerbils are health-inspected and long, involved discussions ensue about genetics, who is breeding for what trait, and random stories of gerbil cuteness.

The next day will bring hundreds of spectators, and our attention will turn to educating and passing along our love of gerbils, but the night before is our time. Pre-arranged swaps of pups and breeding adults take place, with people seeking out rare colors like silver schimmel, variegated spotting or a Siamese with deep sepia points. Many a gerbil owner will discover one, two or even more lovely animals that have the right genetic makeup or simply charm their way into that extra, empty carrier.

Here I’ll see not only how my gerbil buddies are faring but also their buddy-gerbils. I’ll be introduced to grandsons and great-great-granddaughters of gerbils I traded at shows gone by, and I’ll ooh and aah over them – and subtly size them up as competition. This year the gerbils to watch include Marshmallow, a honey cream, and big buff male that won Best in Midwest Show 2007; Flair, a spotted nutmeg named for his amazing tail, and the winner of the Best in New England Show 2007; Herman, a stunning, dark-eyed honey that won the 2007 virtual show; and Theodore, an up-and-coming, oversized, very golden, agouti-colored adolescent that is affectionately known as Bubba. Despite impressive credentials, it is anyone’s show. We all know sometimes it is the newcomers who wow the judges and walk away with top honors.

Win or lose, I asked my gerbil buddies…Why Come to the Gerbil Show?

Here are their Top 10 Reasons for Coming to the Gerbil Show:

Reason No. 10 – Shop for one-of-a-kind gerbil stuff

Reason No. 9 – Greet old friends, make new ones

Reason No. 8 – Just sit back and watch both children and adults interact with their beloved pets

Reason No. 7 – Pick up my dream gerbil pair

Reason No. 6 – Check out what the NE Gerbil Show is like! OR Loved it and want to do it again!

Reason No. 5 – Talking nothing but gerbils…yah, Gerbils, Gerbils, Gerbils...just a little addicted

Reason No. 4 – Meet other people’s gorgeous critters and show off my own gerbils

Reason No. 3 – Compete and get points on my gerbil

Reason No. 2 – Any excuse to road trip across country with my entire kennel

And the No. 1 Reason for coming to the gerbil show – to be around those who understand and don’t think I’m nuts!

Here are just a few of the gerbils coming this year: Billy, Scamper, Barry, Cylon, Kibo, Little John, Pearl, Evelyn, Hot Dog, Xena, and Ingot, Batgirl, Flash, Tippi, Moose, Ocean, Blossom, Fin, Rouge, Buttercup, Athena, Frost, Ranger, Peanut, Avalanche, Smoke, Noir, Helen, Destiny, Hercules, Achilles, Spice, Bear, Dash, Flake, Ryan, Kaden, Keegan, Jaden, Memphis, Kalen, Truth, Pan, Violet, Wren, Roux, Ghost, Jericho, Spice, Muscles, Superman, Ilori, Bubba, Jelly Bean, Venus, Mercury, Apollo, Rebel, Rihanna,
Annabelle, Rori and, Sampson, Eragon, Blake, and Spyro, Taro, Panko and Nasu, Pete and Guthrie, Herman, Sebastian, Marshmallow, Flair, Simone and Mona, Berrie, Buddy, Whiskers, Snickers, Eureka, and Promise!

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Gerbil Family Reunion

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Reader Comments
This is so much fun to see just what goes on with a gerbil show and can't wait to see how Bubba does at the show. Growing up all gerbils were brown and who would have imagined that people would be traveling so many miles to participate.
Judi, Wayland, MA
Posted: 5/2/2008 6:38:22 AM
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