Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It Started with a P

Guinea pigs. They're funny, fuzzy, squeaky, and to those of us who've welcomed them into our lives they're some of the most charming rodents we've ever met. Five of these little characters share my home right now (at one point I had seven) and I couldn't imagine living without them. I haven't always had such an affinity for guinea pigs. They've nibbled their way into my heart a few years ago...

My first pet was a dog, a cairn terrier named Sugar, and following her was a scotty dog named Beverly. I loved them both dearly, and it was tough leaving Beverly behind when I went off to college. In the subsequent years I owned several mice and a small iguana, but I didn't feel I had the proper amount of space or time to devote to a dog.

It was when I was working at a pet store that I was introduced to guinea pigs. They were little skittish bundles of fur that dashed away every time I or anyone else reached to pet them. What terrible pets, I thought. Then this little piggy showed up one day. She'd been abandoned by her owner, and his roommate brought her into the store. She was the sweetest little thing, welcoming any attention that came her way. Luckily at the time I was about to move into an apartment that allowed pets so I quickly claimed her and was so excited to have my new little friend. I played with her every day at work til the move was finalized and then I went to work to take her home...

She died. The day before I came to bring her to her new home she passed away. Before I even had a chance to name her. I didn't understand guinea pig health at the time, so I didn't realize that she was underweight and sick. I was horribly heartbroken. One of my fellow employees told me that the other store in Westwood had a guinea pig available, so I should go there and take a look. Sigh, why not. That store wasn't far away. Upon my arrival, there indeed was a guinea pig. She sat there, a little black and yellow ball of fluff munching on hay, so little she was dwarfed by the rabbit who shared the pen. A surprised little squeak emanated from this furball when I scooped her up into my hands, then silence. She offered just an inquisitive look as those beady eyes stared boldly at me. They told me that someone had previously bought but returned her, citing an "ear fungus" as the reason. They treated her with some ear powder but even I could tell her ears were just fine (I have my own theories on why they really brought her back...).

And that is how my P-Chan came into my life. She was a fiesty one. By fiesty, I mean bitey. It took me a bit of time to realize that she didn't like her feet, chest, or tummy being touched and she was quick to let you know about it (and there we have the real reason she was returned to the pet store). We soon became fast friends, I doted on her and came to love this little cavy so very much.
Baby P

A couple of years later a neighbor came knocking on my door late one night, in her hands a cage. One of the other tenants told her that I had a guinea pig and she didn't want hers anymore. She was pretty much about to throw him away, if I didn't take him she'd either give him to someone who had a snake or take him to Petco, leaving him outside the store if it was closed. Of course, I took him. The poor guy was in a cramped cage with a wire bottom, and the tray had fur caked on top of what appeared to be a layer of bedding that had fossilized from lack of proper cleaning. I set about taking off that wire bottom (stabbing my finger open with a screwdriver in the process) and scraping the tray clean. When I offered him a bit of lettuce it was sadly apparent that he'd never had fresh veggies before. At first he seemed sad and confused, not knowing what was going on. I gave him a pigloo and litter tray, and replaced the ugly, cracked olive green bowl with a nice new one filled with fresh food (it smelled bad, too). Soon after he looked more relaxed and happy. Mr. Ponzu had come home.

A happy Mr. Ponzu with his son, Miso.

More squeakies came into my life shortly thereafter.

Sora was my birthday guinea pig, a beautiful little guy with a long red and white coat that shimmered (known as a satin). He became Ponzu's cagemate, and well, he was a bit of a scamp. Quick to run from you when he was in his cage, as soon as he came out he was so incredibly affable.

Tiramisu was a tiny black and white sweetie, a little runt who after several months never grew larger than the size you see here.

Next to join the fold was Mochi, a perky guinea who I nicknamed Crazy Legs due to her exploratory nature that simply wouldn't allow her to stay still. It wasn't long before she and Ponzu decided to have a family. Three precious piggy nuggets were born: two boys named Miso and Shoyu, and their little sister Pocky.

A quirky little cavy, Kokiri is a really friendly guy with one ear that sticks up while the other flops downward.

Lastly, Archie was a present last Christmas for my boyfriend (of course, he'd never have known the joys of guinea pigs if I hadn't introduced him to it).

Some are still with me, some have passed on, all of them have left thier mark on me. I'm sure there will be many more guinea pigs to come.

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