Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Hamster Talk At The Pet Expo

By Catya
Catya is a judge with the California Hamster Association. She shares her experiences in hamster ownership from a high school student's perspective.

Click image to enlarge
Catya discusses hamsters at the pet expo
Having a booth at America's Family Pet Expo gives Catya and other CHA members a chance to meet lots of hamster owners or potential hamster owners.
The California Hamster Association booth
Photos Courtesy Catya
The California Hamster Association booth at the pet expo is usually pretty busy.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Believe it or not, this is actually a popular holiday with hamsters. Legend has it that St. Patty drove all the snakes out of Ireland, and that is something hamsters approve of 100 percent.

In my last blog, I promised I would write about America’s Family Pet Expo. The Pet Expo is like a convention that’s all about pet ownership and care, with booths and displays about the different animals and clubs. There’s a building full of displays about dogs, another one about cats, and yet another about small animals (the exact setup can vary from year to year). They usually have demonstrations and informational shows about all kinds of things, from taming your parakeet to dog sled racing.

The California Hamster Association (CHA) has a booth at the Pet Expo almost every year, and for five or six years now, I’ve helped the CHA run our booth. I have had some great experiences teaching the attendees about hamsters, chatting with other hamster owners, and learning about the other pet species while at the Expo.

Our CHA team works hard to educate the public about hamsters — there are so many questions and misconceptions out there. I’ve seen people from previous Pet Expos return and tell us that they’ve gone from being merely interested in hamsters to being casual owners to winning awards at hamster shows. Sometimes, I only see them at one Pet Expo, but I know that even if they never own a hamster, I’ve made a difference and informed them about the wonderful world of hamsters.

I had one such experience at my third Pet Expo. The weekend was a mix of serious, informed owners and people who may or may not have listened at all. However, there was at least one conversation I had where I knew that I was getting through to people. I was able to give a lot of good information about hamsters, starting with the basic differences between species, progressing through the taming process, right up to and including the best kinds of hamster houses. I was even able to throw in a little genetics. By the bright, interested look on his face, I could tell that this kid was really getting it! I was so glad that I had made a connection and enlightened someone.

At the end of the weekend, packing up the booth and getting ready to go home, I was certainly tired and definitely glad I had come, but also perhaps a little discouraged. Just as I was carrying the last load of hamster stuff out to the car, I spotted a familiar face among the crowds. A look of recognition crossed the boy’s face as he saw me and remembered. I smiled back eagerly, so glad to have reassurance that I had really gotten through to someone!

Then he turned to his dad and said, “Hey, look Dad! It’s that lady from the rat show!”
“Those weren’t rats, silly,” his Dad blurted, “they were guinea pigs.”

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