Singapore has reached a gracious level where hamsters are treated kindly by young people. The aging baby-boomers in Singapore generally view them as cheap pets and when they fall ill, good luck to them. After all, veterinary fees for treatment can buy a few new ones. But the children who are now growing up view hamsters as family members and sometimes, this lead to conflicts in the family since the parents ignore treatment.
Yesterday was a bright sunny Sunday. I was surprised to see the fat hamster again as I had operated some 2 months ago. My intern Tanya placed him in a bowl onto the weighing scale. The reading was 88 g. "Has he put on weight?" the couple in their 30s, asked me. To me, the hamster had looked less fat. So I had him weighed again as I noted that Tanya had put the weighing scale on a slope of the consultation table. The veterinary consultation table has a grove at the edge to drain off any urine or liquid, unlike the ordinary flat writing desk.
After placing the hamster on the flat part, the weighing scale read 76 g. "He has lost 5 g," I said. "But your dwarf hamster should eat less and weigh around 50-60 g." The tall man who is an IT professional said, "Whenever Hammie's cup is empty, my wife tops up with the Japanese hamster food. Hammie will just eat. He sleeps the whole day, but makes a lot of noise exercising in his wheel at night. Sometimes we have to put him in the kitchen as he is so noisy."
"Hamsters are nocturnal creatures," I explained. "They are active at night. You may have to oil the noisy exercise wheel. Your hamster should eat less. Reduce the amount of his feed bowl by 50%."
This time, the wife had conscientiously examined the hamster by feeling his body for warts and had discovered two hidden under the lush grey coat which was 5 mm long. One wart was 2mm x 2mm on his right side behind the rib cage and the other was 1 mm x 1 mm above his tail on his backside. They would not be spotted if the wife had not examined them.
I gave Zoletil anaesthesia and excised them with a pair of scissors. "Why not use the wart removal freezing method?" Tanya asked me. "There is no need to do it," I said. "The warts are very small." Tanya had not seen freezing of warts being done. The applicator to apply the freezing chemical is already 8 mm in thickness and it would freeze too large an area. Electro-surgery used previously was not necessary as the warts were very small. It was good to note that the other 4 warts (pictured here) did not recur.
In February 2010, four warts in the dwarf hamster were detected. Warts need to be excised by your vet early as they don't disappear on their own. Electro-surgery excised 4 warts. 2 new small warts were felt by the wife in April 2010 and I had them excised. They were well hidden in the thick coat.
IT people had more knowledge of useful software than the ordinary people and I asked the husband whether there is a software to help his wife in her hobby of cross-stitching. The wife is a home-maker and has done cross-stitching for friends, giving them as Christmas cards. Some friends order them just as some Singaporeans order home-made cakes. "Why will Singaporeans want to buy cross-stitching cards, half the size of A4 paper, for $20.00 from your wife?" I asked the husband as I know the majority of Singaporeans are penny pinching by nature. There is a business opportunity in cross-stitched Christmas Cards if the husband knows how to do it and if the wife can produce the high quality embroidery.
"How long does it take to produce one if your wife works full time at 8 hours per day?" I asked. "3 days," the wife estimated. "My eyes can focus after a while. And my fingers get painful." To take 24 hours to generate a $20 sale may not be worth the trouble for the wife's labour.
So, this handicraft can never be commercially successful unless the work is done by poor villagers. "Why do your friends want to buy the cross-stitched Christmas cards?" I asked the Indonesian couple again. "They can just send e-cards which can even talk or buy one card from the shop." The husband said, " Well, they send it to their bosses or put inside the hampers." This certainly make sense. If the boss receives a hand-made cross-stitched card, he will remember the employee as the card is not easy to make. "Is there a software to produce original patterns for embroidery? For example, portraits or even your hamster exercising on the wheel with the words, 'Eat less, exercise more'?". He does have the software which digitalises the picture. Well, his wife is still cross-stitching his landscape photo for the past one year and is still doing it.
There are many small business opportunities in handicrafts as you can see from this couple. "How about using your software to making cross-stitch patterns of famous people like Mr Lee Kuan Yew, get the work stitched by your wife," I asked. "Then you market them to tourists at the Integrated Resorts? Tourists like to buy a piece of the place they visit."
"No, no, we can't do it," the husband laughed as his booming voice filled the small consultation room. "Why?" I asked. "It is too sensitive. Maybe Sentosa's Universal Studios will sell well."
Brain-storming is important in getting business ideas. "How about the Merlion in Sentosa?" I asked. "Nobody likes it," the husband said. "When they take photos, they can only take the paws." The Merlion in Sentosa is a gigantic tall structure of 3 stories high.
The Indonesian couple told me that Jakarta has a business man who had several small branches for cross-stitching and other products. Apparently, the wife finds that the quality of cross-stitching work produced by the staff in this Jakarta business was not up to standard and so she could not buy them for sale in Singapore, as suggested by me. "They could be doing the cross-stitches not out of passion or they could be doing too many," I speculated. Even in a hobby such cross-stitching, there is the matter of quality control and excellence too.
For the benefit of readers, the husband gave me a website, http://cross-stitchers-club.com/