Hedgehogs have a way of stealing your heart. They can be quite shy when making new friends, but once they poke their little whiskers and noses out and uncurl their prickly exteriors, they reveal the fluffiest bellies and adorable little faces. I seriously don't know how we managed to come home from the hedgehog breeder's house with only one hedgehog.
This was my son's first pet and we patiently waited a long time to become Hedgehog owners since we live in one of the few areas where it was illegal to own hedgehogs. Our son wrote our city council a letter and asked them to vote "Yes" to legalize Hedgehogs in our county. When we received an email back from our city councilperson, stating that Hedgehogs had been legalized to own as pets, we literally jumped in the car and drove several hours to pick up our Hedgehog. It was indeed love at first sight.
Boomer the Hedgehog never put up a fuss when presented with a new holiday hat, and was the subject of countless photo shoots in the studio, he even has a whole line of prints, cards and baby shirts in the shop. We have taken Boomer on road trips, and even carried him to school to meet my son's friends at pick-up after school. He's quite popular with visitors to the house, whether they are 3 or 65 years old, everybody wants to see the Hedgehog. Boomer was always a good sport about being woken up to meet new friends. On St. Patrick's Day we brought Boomer to a party with us. Squeaky clean out of the bath, he snuggled in his blanket and let a never ending line of kiddos feed him one piece of delicious cat food after another. He was so charming and sweet with the kids.
Today was hard. Today was the day. Boomer had been diagnosed with a neurological disorder, called Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome, which is the equivalent of human ALS. He had stopped running on his spinney wheel, started knocking his food and water over, and flopped over on his side as if he had an injured leg. We were heartbroken to learn about this disorder which slowly steals their ability to move. Boomer was still surprisingly mobile, scooting all around by moving his little legs in gestures reminiscent of synchronized swimmers. We did lots of photo shoots, my favorite was Paper Wings for Valentine's Day. We made sure to capture memories of good times, even though we knew we'd be faced with a tough decision soon. There is one final photo shoot with Boomer on my camera card. I can't bear to download the images yet. It's no fun to have to be the adult and do the hard thing, even when you know in your heart that it's the right thing to do.
It was snowing on our way to the veterinarian's office today. The sun peeked out of the clouds briefly and I can't help but hope that our sweet Boomer is relaxing on a puffy cloud and knows that he brought so much love to our house. He was definitely a charmer and will be missed.
You'll find lots of photos of our Hedgehog on our Instagram.