Say hello to my latest obsession....

Yes, I know, 6 weeks have flown past in the blink of an eye. I will have no other posts for May if I don't post this one. I do have a rather good reason. A story to tell. It has sadness, joy and a lot of cheekiness. Pour a cuppa, grab a box of tissues and let's go.


Many of you will know about this beautiful young lady, my Sarah (Princess)


She was 14 in February and asked for some pets. She's been on about getting a hamster or a mouse or a cat or a dog for years. Mr Angel Jem is..... not a pet lover, shall we say, and has until now always said no. No. Definitely NO.
But this year Sarah is 14. She's capable of cooking a meal for us, doing the washing, taking care of herself and the house when I'm too busy/tired/ill to do it. She has, in other words reached the Age of Responsibility.

So I looked into what pets were available.

Chinchilla. 2 for £200. Yeah, right, like that's ever going to happen.
Rats. They may be very clever but.... the reputation puts me off.
Hamsters. Balls of fluff that like to make a noise and come out to play.... at night time. No, that wouldn't do either.

Fortunately we had been to the Rabbit Farm at Llanystumdwy a few times over the years. With photos to prove it.


Would a rabbit be good? Well, we don't have a garden shed, and our garage is very dark. Sarah wanted an indoor pet, one we could handle and love inside and I know you can have rabbits inside, but they take a lot of space and have a habit of chewing wires and leads. No, not a rabbit.

But the rabbit farm also have guinea pigs to hold and cuddle. I looked into these beautiful little creatures and.... well, they have definite advantages over many animals as pets.

  • They are quite large as babies and as adults. Fully grown guineas are about 30cm long. That makes them easy to hold, and quite easy to catch in a cage as long as you corner them gently.
  • They aren't nocturnal. They sleep in naps of about 10 minutes a time and not for whole days. Less chance of having a daughter desperate to play while the pet lies curled up and asleep at a time that suits and them comes out and makes mad squeeking and rattling sounds when she wants to go to sleep.
  • They are social animals who live in herds in the wild. That meant that getting just one was not possible. That means there's always an animal to pick up and play with for somebody.
  • They need a cage/hutch and a play area, with time to run and explore. 
  • They don't bite unless they are really provoked. 
So one day towards the end of April I made sure everything was ready and we went looking for 2 small piggies.

We came back with three. Natch.

 Teddy. Soft, furry, ball of fluff. She was lovely, and a real live wire when we got her. Don't get attached.

 Lorelai to the left. She has the longest white hair, with a beautiful tan face. She is big, loud and loves to be held.
 Olga. The runt of the bunch. She is small, but clever and very very beautiful. Those eyes are hidden in the black fur, but they sparkle so.

And here is home. We had the cage set up like in all the books. Newspaper, wood shavings,a good layer of hay, hay in the hay holder thingy. And we loved them all. 

I had done a lot of research, but once I had the piggies I realised that the shavings/hay mix. although probably fine for an outside pig or a garage or shed pig, smelled. And it meant the girls were permanently wet or smelly if it didn't get changed every day. I looked into alternatives, and invested in fleece.




But by the time the fleece was ordered, Teddy was already ill. She had a UTI. Who knew guineas were so delicate? That they caught so many illnesses? And that even getting to the vets and getting antibiotics as soon as possible was no guarantee of recovery. Within the week, Ted was literally on her last legs.
 We bathed the piggies to make them clean after the cage fiasco. Have you ever seen a piggy swim? They are not happy; not happy at all. But it cleaned up their bits, and they smelled better for it.

 The best grass, the freshest dandelion leaves. We tried everything as a treat for Teddy. She spent a few nights sat on the arm of my chair alone, or with a friend while we tried to tempt her.


 And I have never had to cut and serve so much vegetables! Peppers, cucumbers, spring greens, I am still finding out what their favourites are.




Looking back now, we can see how she faded. How her weight never went on, despite hand feeding and finding the treats she loved. By Friday 13th (how ironic) there was nothing left to do except take her to the vets for the last time. She was in pain, and so were we. We held her, hugged her, kissed her and stroked her until the end. And then finally we said goodbye and brought her home to be buried. If you've ever seen how soon a pet becomes a part of the family, then you don't need to be told how we felt. We had a rough weekend, an Egyptian burial with hay and toys and an apple for the afterlife. And we held our two remaining guinea pigs closer still. Poor little things, they kept looking for Teddy, walking around the cage and wheeking. Olga was eating less, and for a day I was worried that we would lose her as well. 


We kept Olga out for a couple of nights and she would sit in a hay filled box between me and Mr AJ while we fed her vegetables and a little fruit to make sure she had the vitamin C she needed. Mr AJ may not like animals, but he wouldn't ever hurt one and he really seems to like the guinea pigs, probably because they are part of the family.

By the middle of the next week she was eating again, putting on weight and, although a quieter and more subservient character than Lorelai, was happy enough about life.

That's enough for today. I need to do something else. I'll be back tomorrow with Piggies Part 2; The Squeakquel.

Comments

  1. Oh, that's so sad and not a good start to you keeping pets. I have to say though that you've made a great choice with guinea pigs, we had two when the kids were young, Pikachu and Po, can you tell what Daniel and Eleanor's favourite programmes were at the time? We had them about six or seven years. I'm so sorry about Teddy, you all must be so upset, I know how attached you get to animals as soon as they become part of the family. Looking forward to the squeakquel now.

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    Replies
    1. There is a happy ending, I promise! We love them all already. I've not seen David as upset ever, but thinking about it, it was the children's first experience of loss and grief. We still have a little weep, but the guinea pigs we have a great for commanding attention.

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  2. Oh what a shame. Sounds as though you did everything you possibly could though. Your burial sounds very similar to the ones we've held. We always send our pets off with something for the afterlife.

    We had 3 guineas, they really are lovely pets to keep. Ours stayed indoors for about 6 weeks then moved into their cage outside. They managed to get ringworm and we had to bathe them in some solution so I know how much they hate water.

    We asked for 3 girls but after a couple of weeks it was obvious we'd been given a boy by mistake so he had to be returned. The girl we then brought home and introduced to the other 2 was bullied for a while, so if you're thinking of getting another one that might be worth bearing in mind.

    Looking forward to the squeakel :) xx

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    Replies
    1. Was the ringworm really bad? It looks horrid on some photos. The Egyptian burial was interesting. Three teenagers taking part, all perfectly serious.

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    2. Not really bad, but bad enough. I think it took a few weeks to clear up and in the meantime Amy caught it so we ended up smearing her in cream as well. From the GP not the vet! xx

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  3. Aw what a sad first pet experience, I'm glad that there is some good news though. We were never going to be pet people but Rocky hound has wormed his way into everyone's hearts. I do like the sound of the Egyptian burial. xx

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    Replies
    1. I know! Mr AJ just always said no to pets.... but when he walks into the room he always says hello piggies, and today he walked in and asked them and the children where I was.... when I was sat in my usual chair, just not talking!

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  4. Oh that is sad story and tough that it happened so soon after you got your first pets. I was very reluctant to commit to a pet but we've had our dog for 9 years now and he is very much part of the family. He's beginning to have a few health problems so I suspect we have tough times ahead.

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    1. Not good. Old age isn't nice in people or pets. It was a hard lesson, and too soon to learn it really, except it showed Sarah just how much she loves her piggies. She takes really good care of them all now.

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  5. I am sorry to read about little Teddy, it is so sad to loose a pet. Guinea pigs are great fun, I grew up with two. I remember they are very particular about where they pee and poop, more or less in the same spot, and it is easy to scoop just that bit of the wood shavings out. I very much hope the squeakquel is a happier story :-)

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    1. They use a litter tray, mostly, and using fleece makes spot cleaning a matter of poop scooping once or twice a day. Less hay on the carpet, as well!
      Don't worry, the squeakquel is much better.

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  6. I'm very sorry to read about Teddy, they do find a spot in our hearts so quickly don't they. It must have been so difficult for the children.
    Looking forward to the next instalment.
    Lisa x

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  7. So very sorry. I know the heartbreak of losing a pet and it doesn't matter if you have known them for a long time or a short time, there is still a great deal of pain in the loss. I hope that the other two will be OK and live long and happy lives and give you much pleasure as you will give them!

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