The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Rodent on the run: Class pet continues to escape

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Amongst the many rodents around the school, one is special. Chubs Maloy has lived in Mr. Albert Marino’s math classroom since August 2017 – well, most of the time anyway. He’s been known to escape his enclosure and disappear for days at a time.  

 

Mr. Marino poses with the classroom pet, Chubs, for a photoshoot. The hamster is taken from his enclosure occasionally to be let on walks. “Mr. Marino is really nice with chubs,” Chloe Hammonds(9) said. “ He’s really careful with Chubs, he takes really good care of him, and he lets him go around the classroom a lot in his little hamster ball so that he can move around.”

 

“Mr. Ward offered [me] a hamster cage over the Summer and I jumped on the idea,” Mr. Marino said. “I thought a classroom pet would be fun, healthy, improve the mood of the students, and just be a joyful thing for everyone. Once the hamster cage came in I realized it wasn’t fun unless I had a hamster with it. I looked on craigslist, I found a used hamster for free, and I got him.”

 

The students have grown to appreciate Chubs even more than Mr. Marino imagined. Students can handle Chubs during class, and take him home for the weekends.

Chubs skitters across the desk of a math classroom. The class pet is set free from his enclosure occasionally in order to receive enough exercise. “Chubs will just randomly come out in the middle of class, run around the desk, and crawl in people’s laps,” McDowell(9) said. “It’s a good idea, because they’re a version of therapy animal, and so it’s a way to relax and have a slight other focus when you’re stressed out.”

 

“Some people have an attachment to chubs as their son,” Haley McDowell (9) said. “The first times Chubs disappeared everyone was scared, they were afraid that Chubs went and was eaten by something. They thought that something in the vents had come down and taken Chubs and eaten him. Everyone was so sad.”

 

Chubs was soon returned to his cage mysteriously. He has escaped two times since then to make a nest by the window.

Mr. Marino sets Chubs onto one of his classroom tables. The hamster sometimes walks around the classroom to experience a change in scenery. “Smile now, for tomorrow is a gift, that we have yet to receive,” Mr. Marino said while channeling the spirit of Chubs. “I read it in a book I think. I’m a very literate hamster. I read when Mr. Marino lets me out of my cage, which is not as frequent yet I would like, but he is a tyrant.”

“He might have escaped more times and just figured out how to tighten the screw on his little donut there,” Mr. Marino said. “He is very crafty. He has opposable thumbs, unlike most rodents, and the capacity to problem solve.”

Chubs poses for a picture. The hamster is shown standing on the floor where he is set free to roam on occasion. “I turned 1 during Halloween,” Mr. Marino said from the perspective of Chubs. “To be honest I feel like I’ve repressed a lot of my childhood memories. Before I was adopted by Mr. Marino I don’t remember much. I know that I’m much more at peace now than I was before. He threw me a little party for my birthday.”

Chubs has been through many adventures. Mr. Marino bought Chubs a squirrel harness with purple fairy wings for 15 dollars on amazon, and put it on him during class.

 

“Unfortunately, even though the squirrel fairy wings said they would be small enough to fit a hamster, they were not,” Mr. Marino said. “He was not a big fan, he did not enjoy the process of having a harness put on him. Once it was on him, he didn’t know that he was being taken for walks and kind of just did his own thing. We would try to drag him this way or that way, and he just really didn’t, he didn’t budge. He didn’t understand the concept.”

Mr. Marino set Chubs down next to him and pretended to race him. Additionally, Mr. Marino has bought Chubs fairy wings. “I felt humiliated,” Mr. Marino said in the voice of Chubs. “ I felt like I was part of an elaborate joke. I’m very happy that Mr. Marino returned those fairy wings and got his 15 dollars back.”

 

Mr. Marino cradles class pet, Chubs, in his hands. “Everybody loves chubs,” Mr. Marino said. “From the 6 graders to the 12 graders the girls take detours to just say hi to him. They take turns taking him home for the weekend. He has brought such joy to everyone, with exception of those afraid of rodents.”

 

Class pet, Chubs, is woken up from a nap. The hamster is covered in bedding from his enclosure. “Chubs is a very playful, adventurous, and sneaky little guy,” Mr. Marino said. “He has been known to cleverly find his way out and make a mess by the window, over there. Otherwise, he loves people, he’s not timid even when he is surrounded by six girls who want to pet him at the same time.”

Kaia Newton is a photographer, cross country runner, and a new addition to the Polaris Press staff. This is their first year as a writer, and they were most excited to be able to express themselves through their writing, as well as create new bonds with other members of the staff. Kaia also happens to be a board member for ARS’ Real Talk and is a huge social justice advocate. They also are a lover of reading and are even a member of the Library Minions. Aside from school, Kaia also does aerial art on the side, meaning they love doing art using silk.

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