Pohlonskis adopt hamster

Stay-at-home order provides daughters with time to persuade parents to adopt a pet, raise money themselves


Many teachers and their families have adopted a pet over the past year. One such teacher is Emily Pohlonski, whose daughters adopted a hamster, Bumble, in August.

Originally, Pohlonski was against having a pet due to the amount of traveling her family does. Her daughters, Clara and Sasha, are both competitive gymnasts, training 12 to 15 hours a week in addition to competitions. Pohlonski and her husband are both teachers, and she travels frequently as head of HOSA, while her husband is also the swim and dive coach. 

“Prior to this, we were very clear that we’re not getting a pet, because we’re gone all the time and we’re super busy. And so, even during COVID when everybody else was getting a dog, I was like ‘No, no, no, we don’t have time’,” Pohlonski said. 

“We travel quite a bit, so I was just worried we wouldn’t be able to be present the way a pet would need us to. But we’ve obviously been home a lot more now.”

Bumble is a Syrian hamster, one of the largest species, but he is also nocturnal, his day beginning around 11 a.m. This means that when the girls go back to school full time, Bumble can occupy himself until they get home, and won’t be missing out on any time with them. 

Pohlonski had a dog when she was younger, so she knows what it takes to care for a pet. She was worried that her family would not be able to dedicate the necessary time, but a hamster requires less attention than a dog, and Bumble seems to be the perfect fit.

“I loved our dogs that we had growing up, but I know how much work they are, and how much attention they require, and I know that we don’t have the capacity for that even right now. But a hamster, the girls definitely have the capacity for because I don’t have to do anything,” Pohlonski said.

Pohlonski had a list of concerns regarding getting a pet that had been brought up over five years of past discussions, one being that she wanted the pet to be Sasha and Clara’s responsibility, not hers. 

“I think a lot of times parents will get the hamster with the kids and the kids will promise ‘oh yeah we’ll take care of it,’  and then suddenly it’s the parents. But they have 100% taken care of every bit of it. I don’t do anything … It’s been a wonderful chance for them to show me what they can do,” Pohlonski said.

The first display of this responsibility was the process in which Sasha and Clara convinced their mom to get a pet. They worked together on a PowerPoint and a poster that addressed each of Pohlonski’s concerns, and included research they had done over the summer. They even dressed up for the presentation. 

They also created “The Hamster Guidebook” for their grandparents to use as they take care of Bumble while the Pohlonskis are away from home. 

“I think the girls were smart about their approach, they know that pleading doesn’t really work with me, but a logical PowerPoint presentation is probably the most effective way to get there,” Pohlonski said. “It got the job done.”

Sasha and Clara also have a schedule for cleaning his cage and sand bath, with a chart on the side of the cage detailing Bumble’s care. They even raised the money for Bumble themselves, paying for his cage, food and toys all on their own. 

If it wasn’t for the extra time during COVID, Pohlonski doesn’t think that the family would have adopted Bumble.

“I don’t know that the girls would have had the time to do the amount of research that was required to convince me. We would have been busy doing other things. Instead, they had all this downtime to wear me down,” Pohlonski said. 

In addition to allowing the girls to demonstrate their responsibility, Bumble has also been an emotional support for both as they’ve navigated these past few months. 

Sasha particularly enjoys bathtub bonding with Bumble, a common activity for hamsters where you place a blanket or a towel in the bathtub and sit with the hamster. The enclosed space keeps them from escaping, but also allows a close connection because it’s just one person and the hamster.

“There was one day I was really stressed for school … so I was reading in the bathtub with him and he was just playing around. I was reading and just behind, I felt this scratching on my book, Sasha said. “And then I lifted it up and he was right there. And it just made me laugh.”

Clara has also found her relationship with Bumble comforting.

“Just seeing his cute little face staring at you just makes you glow up inside, and after I was determined to have a great day,” Clara said.  “He’ll distract you with his cuteness. And so then you’ll just forget about it. And then you’ll leave and you’ll be like, ‘What, why am I here again? Why am I not doing my schoolwork?’”

Pohlonski has also noticed the effects Bumble has had on her daughters. 

“I really like that they have that somebody to sort of buddy up with or seek refuge, if things aren’t going their way that day,” Pohlonski said. 

Although she was hesitant to get a pet at first due to the care and attention they require, Pohlonski believes Bumble is worth it all.

“It helps me because it’s helping them,” Pohlonski said. “They’re happy and that’s all I need.”