I have a confession to make. I once gave a pet as a gift.

I was in college and decided that what my significant other really needed for her birthday was something to keep her company in her dorm room. So I got her a hamster named Emma. Who wouldn’t love that?

Emma’s reception was lukewarm at best. My girlfriend took good care of her, but when the holidays arrived, I was told that it would be best if Emma went home with me for a while. I took Emma with me and displayed her proudly to my (rightfully) dubious mother. Shortly thereafter, I became reacquainted with the amount of labor required to maintain a healthy hamster — and a non-stinky hamster cage.

As you might guess, Emma did not go back to college with me. She lived out her happy and long (for a hamster) life with my mother, who has always referred to her as “Emma the Love Hamster.”

I am still embarrassed about the entire incident, but it taught me a valuable lesson that I have shared with many pet enthusiasts who are considering “blessing” some unsuspecting soul with the gift of a surprise pet. Please don’t do it. The pet, your friend and your friend’s mother all deserve better.
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