When Steph Veerman, 19, received a text from her father Daniel on a Sunday afternoon, her heart sank.
“Please call me [as] soon as you get this it’s an emergency,” Daniel Veerman wrote.
“He couldn’t get out sentences,” Steph told BuzzFeed News.
Daniel had been watching over his daughter’s beloved pet hamster Chester while she was away at Emmanuel College. Chester was kicked out of Daniel’s ex-wife’s (Steph’s mother) house just a few weeks before. Daniel wasn’t a fan of the furball initially, but Chester soon broke down Daniel’s icy resolve.
“At first, I wasn’t too keen on him,” Daniel said. “I grew up with German shepherds. I’ve never had, you know, 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.”
It was about two months into the arrangement that tragedy struck. As Daniel spoke to Steph, he fought back tears. He had to explain to his daughter that Chester was missing.
“I had a meltdown,” he said. “I was having a freaking heart attack.”
Just like he did every Sunday, Daniel had been cleaning Chester’s cage when the animal escaped.
“It was a nightmare,” he said. “I was calling him, screaming his name, thinking maybe he knows his name. I was looking with a high-powered flashlight.”
After sharing the bad news with Steph over the phone, he continued to reach for Chester, texting his daughter as the situation developed. Meanwhile, Steph took screenshots of the texts and shared them on Twitter.
It wasn’t before long that they started to get noticed.
“My dad took over my hamster once i went back to college and ended up getting really attached and today he escaped and this goes to prove how truly pure my father is,” Steph wrote.
As Daniel exasperated, Steph reassured her father that everything would be fine.
“Dad- he’s just a hamster. I don’t blame you at ALL. You shouldn’t skip work you are a lawyer and he is a hamster.”
Daniel doubled down on his search and employed an expert-level tracking technique. He scattered flour around a pile of peanut butter and treats, and waited.
“Right after nightfall, I saw him run across the floor and said, ‘Thank god,’” Daniel said. “I came back and saw him standing on a book, cleaning himself, and I grabbed him.”
Chester was giving himself a bath near a book on President Richard Nixon when Daniel found him.
The frenetic search was over.
“I’m just thankful to God. Prayed all day,” he texted, including a photo of Chester back in his cage. “He’s safe now. Good lord. I was a mess. This little bastard destroyed me today.”
follow up: He did find him!!! pic.twitter.com/ObHSSmI4UU
— Steph Veerman (@stephyj725) November 26, 2019
The Veerman family is happy Chester has been found, and so is the Twitterverse. By mid-December, Steph’s posts had been retweeted over 115,000 times.
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