Anyone who’s ever looked after a pet for a friend or family member knows what a huge responsibility it is. Your worst fear is that you’ll lose the beloved creature and have to face the devastation of telling their human what happened. Unfortunately, Daniel Veerman faced that worst-case scenario recently. The dad lost his daughter’s hamster, and the lengths that he went to relocate the little escape artist are truly heartwarming.
Veerman, who’s 53, first started taking care of Chester the hamster while his daughter, Steph Veerman, was away at college, and it wasn’t long before the small pet burrowed right into his heart. “At first, I wasn’t too keen on him,” Daniel told BuzzFeed News. “When I first got it, it was like a mouse. It wouldn’t be my first choice of pet. But then I got attached. And even more because you’re taking care of it for your daughter.”
Soon, the two had formed a routine. The single dad would come home from work and chill out with Chester, sometimes placing him in his sweatshirt pocket and sending photos to Steph to show her he was doing just fine. On Sundays, he’d put Chester in a hamster ball and let him exercise around his office while he dutifully cleaned out his cage.
Then, on Sunday, Nov. 24, disaster struck. “I cleaned the cage…and came back and he was gone and I had a heart attack,” Veerman recalled.
After searching for Chester with a high-powered flashlight while screaming his name, he texted his daughter to say there was an emergency, and sobbed as he told her the news on the phone. Steph was relieved to know no one had died, and tried to console her father, who was hysterical at this point.
“She told me it would be OK, but I knew she was saying that just to make me feel better,” Veerman said.
Next came the search and rescue mission. Google informed Veerman that it was easier to find a lost hamster at night, given that they are nocturnal creatures. But he couldn’t bear to wait that long.
“I couldn’t just sit there all day, I was going crazy,” he said. “So I set traps. I re-created his cage in my office, took his toys and treats all around. Put out water. I thought if I didn’t find him at least he wouldn’t die because he would have food.”
Veerman spread peanut butter all over the house in the hopes of luring the little guy back. He even poured flour on the floor so that he could potentially see Chester’s footprints and at least know he was still alive.
Throughout the ordeal, Veerman continued to frantically text his daughter.
“This is the absolute worst ever,” he wrote in one text. “I’m never going to forgive myself if he doesn’t come back. Should I keep looking for him or is that going to scare him into hiding? If I can’t find him I’m not going to work tomorrow so I can keep looking.”
“Dad, he’s just a hamster, I don’t blame you at all,” she responded. “You shouldn’t skip work. You are a lawyer and he is a hamster.”
Another great one liner? “God is good. I will trust him.”
Oh and, “I know he likes peanut butter. Peanuts. That’s a start.”
It was a long day’s journey into night, but once the sun set, Veerman caught Chester “next to a book about President Nixon.”
Steph shared some of his texts on Twitter, saying that they “prove how truly pure” her father is. They quickly went viral, and have received more than 114,000 retweets since being posted on Nov. 24.
Everyone was very much here for this version of Taken: The Hamster Edition.
Chester taking it all in!! Thanks so much for all the love!! pic.twitter.com/AS640e45aG
— Steph Veerman (@stephyj725) November 27, 2019
We can all agree that the phrase “you are a lawyer and he is a hamster” should be immortalized in a song.
he was a lawyer
he was a hamster
can i make it anymore obvious?
he was his pet
til he ran away
what more can i say?
dad had an idea
it could never fail
got his ham back via flour trail
— 🍁🌀MAD LAD🌀🍁 (@madsscribbles) November 26, 2019
But what’s really touching is just how much Veerman loves his fur baby.
He put flour out the catch foot prints. Just like a dad to be like “you don’t have to come home but let us know you’re ok 😭”
— Sam, High Priestess of the Feminism. (@SpiffySpiderKat) November 27, 2019
Thank goodness he and Chester have been reunited—and, judging by the looks of it, it’s never felt so good.
told him he had a lot of people on twitter who loved him so he did his hair and posed for this pic i’m dead i love him so much pic.twitter.com/urR2WMmeDE
— Steph Veerman (@stephyj725) November 27, 2019
“I am an empty nester now, and rather than having my kids around all the time to take care of, Chester is the substitute,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I transferred a lot of parenting to the animal. I felt like I was taking care of my daughter, so when he disappeared, I panicked.”
Just goes to show that, once a father, always a father. And for another heartwarming story on that, check out This Viral Text Message Is a Beautiful Reminder to Tell Your Parents You Love Them.