There will come a time when my children no longer remember how we came to own a couple of guinea pigs. So, it seems only right that I should write a little something about it so it's not forgotten...although it's hardly the kind of story you pass down from generation to generation.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at one of Smunch's baseball games, trying to stay out of the blaring sun, when Gram arrived and told me that her friend, Mary, had found a guinea pig in her backyard. In fact, this guinea pig was so brazen that it wandered right into her house. But Mary and her husband didn't know what to do with a guinea pig and weren't williing to try picking it up. My mom had taken them a cat carrier with which to try to trap it. But, as far as I can tell, they didn't really try that either. I told my mom that if they caught it and couldn't find the owners that I'd take it before they gave it to Animal Services. Somehow that turned into the suggestion that I go over to Mary's and catch the rodent myself.
Now, I'll admit that as I drove over there I sort of wondered if it was actually a guinea pig at all. After all, people are forever misidentifying animals "in the wild"...or in the backyard. This critter was supposed to be living in the bush under their living room window. By the time I showed up, it had been there for three days.
Mam went with me and we camped out outside the bush. We peered in where we could, but couldn't see a thing in there. I put a little pile of carrots out in hopes of spotting the critter and we sat on the lawn and waited. Before too long, there was a suspicious rustling in the bush and moments later, a furry little face peered out. It was a guinea pig and it was cute, but skittish, with long, multi-colored hair.
In a long series of events, we managed to get the guinea pig in the carrier after about 45 minutes...using the classic trick of leaving a trail of carrots into the carrier and a string on the door with which to close it from a distance.
So, now we had a guinea pig and we took it home with us. I quickly posted a query on our elementary school e-bulletin board asking if someone had a guinea pig cage I could take off their hands. And I was fortunate enough to find a great big cage...for free. The guinea pig, who we eventually named Roamer, was very, very happy to be back in a cage where someone would feed him hay, lettuce and oranges.
It took a couple days before we managed to put up signs in Mary's neighborhood (which is not our neighborhood). And a couple more days went by before we finally got a call from a family over there who'd been missing their guinea pig, Rooster, for two or three weeks. And they weren't particularly close to Mary's house either. Rooster must've had a grand adventure before being returned to his family.
Although we all got a little attached to the furry fellow, it was nice to see he had a good home with people who were thrilled to have him back. They even gave us some pictures of him to remember him by. Nice folks.
We sped off to Mam's soccer game, lunch and then straight to the pet store...to look at guinea pigs.
The first place we went had a number of guinea pigs. They were all part of a group of about 150 that were rescued from the home of a hoarder. They were mostly adults and all extremely skittish. It was hard to tell if a feral guinea pig or two would ever warm up to a couple of kids. Although both of the kids already had their hearts set on one of the piggies there, we headed to a more traditional pet store to see what they had.
They had little, young guinea pigs. They had cool markings. Mam picked out a very calm one with brown, orange and white. She seemed like a very sweet little piggy.Smunch had a pale calico one picked out, but the sales person couldn't catch her...a sign that maybe she wasn't going to be very calm at home either. We thought we'd check elsewhere, but the sales clerk said she was going to get a few more from the back. And oh, were they cute! Gavin picked one out right away and we took them both home with us.
At my suggestion, Smunch decided to name his guinea pig Rita.I thought it was funny that he accepted that suggestion...which came from the name on a random e-mail in my inbox. I didn't even know the Rita who sent the e-mail. Mam temporarily named her guinea pig Mocha, although the next day, her name was Butterscotch. I liked the idea that they'd be named after two of my favorite drinks, but I figured having one named something purely kid-like was really more appropriate. Butterscotch remained sweet and calm while Rita was a total spaz who sprinted laps around the cage at unpredictable moments.Now, what we learned a couple of days later is that you don't want to pick out the super calm, sweet guinea pig. Because it means she's not healthy. And I found myself taking our new guinea pig to the VET on Halloween night, where she was promptly diagnosed with Bordetella...otherwise known as kennel cough...and given a prescription for Baytril. She really wasn't very well, her sides heaving and looking pretty depressed. The vet warned me that she might not survive. Bordetella can be really hard on guinea pigs. And, of course, it's very contagious.So, Rita made her own trip to the vet last night as soon as we spotted symptoms. Her eyes were a little crusty and she'd stopped sprinting around the cage. She seemed a little bummed, herself.
These have become very expensive little rodents. But Butterscotch appears for all the world to be on the mend and after a day of medication, Rita's pretty much back to her old self. Mam is smitten.Smunch likes them but the novelty seems to be wearing off already. They're funny, squeaky little critters and I'm kinda looking forward to having them around...