Through my childhood and into my adult life, I always had a cat, a bird or a couple of goldfish, one species at a time, nothing unusual. Then one day, I picked up a complete aquarium set-up at a yard sale and we added a couple of surprisingly resilient goldfish to the two cats in our household. Little did I know I had cracked open the door for a flood of creatures to follow.
My daughter Ruth led us (circuitously) to our first three gerbils, who we adopted at a 4-H show: an elderly, dark-eyed white mother and her middle-aged lilac daughters. First one then another passed away, and we went searching for a new companion for the survivor. As luck would have it, a Google search led me to Donna Anastasi the day before the Nashua, NH AGS show, which we decided to attend. It reminded me of the horse shows I attended as a teen, and I realized immediately I’d found my next hobby.
Our gerbil kennel Shawsheen River Gerbils has grown to include breeding, rescue work, and support for teachers who use gerbils in the classroom. I work in conjunction with several area humane societies and with other rescue networks like Mainely Rat Rescue and degurescue.org to place gerbils in new homes. While we’ve had many other rodent pets over the years, we now have just two cats and an ever-changing number of gerbils.
To pay for water bottles and vet bills, I run a small business as a self-employed bookkeeper. I have been a judge since 2006, on the AGS Board since 2007 and I am honored to be serving my third term in the role of President.