Seven year old Henry was following his mom through the pet store one Saturday morning. As they approached the small animal section, a sign caught Henry’s eye and he froze.
When his mom turned around to find him, Henry exclaimed, “Look they are having a hamster derby here this afternoon. Can I enter Bucky, please?”
His mom studied the sign for a moment, “Alright, we can look into it, let’s get Bucky’s food first.”
Henry nodded and continued following his mom.
Once they were at the checkout counter, Henry asked the cashier, “How do I sign up for the hamster derby?”
The cashier glanced at Henry and replied, “ There is no sign up, just have your hamster here by 1 p.m.”
“Thank you. My hamster’s name is Bucky. He is really fast.”
The cashier smiled at Henry’s enthusiasm, before saying, “I can’t wait to see him run.”
Only then did Henry turn to ask his mom, “Can Bucky run in the race, please?”
His mom responded, “Yes. We better go eat lunch and get Bucky.”
As soon as Henry got home, he race to his room. “Bucky, guess what, you are going to run in the hamster derby today. We are going to the pet store after lunch. If you win, we will get a big trophy.”
Bucky poked his head out from under the mound of bedding where he napped. He stretched and yawned as he walked over to the cage door.
“You want a yogurt treat, don’t you?”
Bucky stood waiting as Henry fished a treat from the bag and handed it to him.
“Henry, come eat lunch,” his mom called.
“Coming,” Henry shouted back, before telling Bucky, “I will be back.”
After lunch, Henry balanced Bucky’s exercise ball in his lap as they rode to the pet store.
Bucky turned and roamed inside the ball, confused by the new surroundings.
Once the car was parked, Henry climbed out carefully carrying Bucky in his ball. As Henry led his mom into the pet store, he froze momentarily startled by the overwhelming sight of children and hamsters everywhere.
“Wow, look at all the people. Let’s go get Bucky signed in,” Mom said.
Henry nodded and followed her to the registration table.
It was not long after they got registered, that the first race began. Henry crept closer to the tracks as the store employee started talking, “ Welcome everyone to the first hamster derby. We have a 10 foot track set up for you today. There will be eight hamsters running at a time. The winner of each round will progress to the final run off. I have the participants divided into six groups. I will call the names before each race, and my associates will help you get the hamsters in place. Is everybody ready?”
Henry screamed, “Yes!”
The store employee read the first eight names.
“Good, we aren’t up first so we can watch.” Henry commented.
His mom stood behind him, “Why don’t you move up closer so you can see. I will stay right here.”
“Okay, thanks, Mom.”
“Do you want me to hold Bucky.”
“No, he needs to see too.”
Henry wove his way through the crowd of people to an opening that gave him a clear view of the track.
The first hamsters were loaded and at the employee’s signal, released.
“There are three hamsters aren’t moving off the starting line,” Henry whispered to Bucky, “Look, that black hamster is way in the lead.”
Henry stood and watched 3 more races, before Bucky’s name was called.
The store associate, took Bucky’s ball from Henry and placed it in the fourth lane on the track.
Henry stood directly behind the fourth lane of the track. “You can do it, Bucky. You will win, I just know it.”
As the associates started the race, Henry ran to the side of the track cheering, “Go, Bucky! Go!”
Henry bounced up and down in place. Bucky was in the lead. Suddenly, Bucky slowed his pace.
Oh, no. Bucky has stopped and is now heading back to the starting line.
“No, Bucky, you’re going the wrong way!”
Henry watched as Bucky was passed by the rest of the hamsters. Henry’s fist clenched at his side and tears welling up in his eyes, as he pleaded, “Please, Bucky, run the other way. You can do it.”
As if hearing Henry, Bucky turned in his ball and continued running in the original direction. Bucky picked up speed and quickly caught up with the other hamsters and pulled into the lead. He didn’t slow down, so his ball bounced off the other end of the track.
“Yeah, you won! You won!” Henry cheered.
As the pet store employee announced, “Bucky comes in first, Fluffy came in second, and Oreo came in third…”
Henry wove his way through the crowd, and collected Bucky from the employee.
As he walked back to his mom, Henry chattered excitedly, “I am so proud of you, Bucky. I knew you could do it. Now we are in the final race.”
Even though, Henry’s mom had seen the entire race, Henry could not stop himself from recounting the events to her. He was so busy talking about Bucky’s race, that he missed the final three rounds. Only when he heard Bucky’s name called by the store employee, did Henry turn around and hurry back to the starting line with Bucky.
Bucky was placed in the second slot on the track this time. Henry stood behind Bucky’s lane, explaining, “There are only five other hamsters running this time. I know you can win, Bucky. Just run your fastest.”
Henry moved to the side of the track, just before the six hamsters were released.
“Go, Bucky, go!” Henry cheered.
Bucky started running immediately, and this time he did not slow down.
“Bucky’s in the lead! Yes, he is going to win,” Henry cheered.
A moment later, Bucky was caught at the other end of the track, by the store employee.
“Bucky is the winner of our hamster derby,” The pet store employee announced excitedly, as he held Bucky and his ball over his head for all to see.
A cheer echoed through the store, as Henry and his mom wove through the crowd.
Henry grabbed Bucky and his ball from the store associate, “You did so good, Bucky. I am so proud of you!”
“Here is the trophy for Bucky’s owner, Henry,” the pet store employee announced.
Henry held Bucky in one hand, and the trophy in the other. He smiled proudly, as camera flashes came from every direction.
Another round of applause echoed through the store.
In a blur, Henry answered several questions about Bucky. All too soon, Henry was following his mom to the car.
“Thank you, Mom,” Henry said as he climbed into the backseat, with Bucky and his trophy.
As soon as they got to the house, Henry raced to his room. He rewarded Bucky with several yogurt drops as he place Bucky in his cage.
Bucky stuffed the yogurt drops in his cheeks and climbed down and under the bedding. He poked his head out, as he heard Henry say, “You were so fast today, Bucky. I am so proud of you. Your trophy will stay right here by your cage. Sleep well, Bucky, you earned it.”
Henry smiled at Bucky, as Bucky ducked his head back under the bedding.
I have the best hamster in the world, Henry thought as he tiptoed from the room.