I'm driving along and I spot something white scurrying along the edge of the road. Something about the size of a large hamster. Obviously nothing native.
"I can't just let that go," I think to myself. I stop as soon as I can, turn the car around, and head back to the spot.
The little white critter is still there. As I get out of the car and move closer, I see what it is: a terrified baby Guinea pig.
Now, I've never kept Guinea pigs in my life, but if I leave this little one where he is, he'll be roadkill or coyote chow in minutes. I grab him by the scruff of the neck, since he's in a panic and might bite, and hold him close as I carry him back to the car. There's a cardboard box in the car, and I put him in it, then buckle the box in the front seat.
I stop at the grocery store on the way home and get a dish, a water bottle, some bedding, and a box of something labeled "Guinea pig food" so he'll have something at least to eat. At home, I put him in a giant cardboard box that a computer monitor came in. Not a long-term solution by any means, but something to keep him in for the night. Then I go on the internet and learn all I can about Guinea pig care, so that I can go get the right stuff for him the next day.
Finding that Guinea pigs are harder to give away than kittens, I opt to keep him. I start him out in a store-bought cage, and THEN learn about C&C cages. At least he has the right bedding, hay, and food.
I name him Pinkerton, for his pink eyes.
His little ears are are all scabby and look like they've been half-chewed off. This poor little guy either was in overcrowded conditions, or was kept in a cage with a rat or something.
I find him a good vet, who turns out to be the same vet we already take our birds to. Pinkerton gets a clean bill of health, and is labeled the "Miracle Guinea pig." He's estimated to be three months old.
Fast-forward to January, 2006. Realizing that Pinker needs a companion, I keep watch on the web sites of local shelters. Finally, a pair of piggies turns up, one male and one female. The male is six months old, slightly older than Pinker.
I contact the shelter and let them know I'll take the boy, and head out with the cat carrier. "Rock Star," as the boy was named, and the female, "Fluffy," turn out to be the cast-off pets of family who had the brilliant idea to get Guinea pigs as "starter" pets to teach their children responsibility. On the surrender form I notice that the children were ages 2 and 4, barely old enough to dress themselves, let alone take full charge of an animal. The shelter volunteers aren't happy about the family's ignorance, either. Both piggies were healthy, but undersocialized due to neglect. Wishing I could take them both, but with only enough space for another boy, I take "Rock Star" home, where he gets renamed Webster.
After a proper quarantine, a visit to the vet, routine treatment for any parasites that the vet might have missed, the boys both get bathed and put into a large C&C cage with a divider down the middle. After a week, back in the bath, scrub down the cage, and down comes the divider, and both are put in front of a pile of fresh green grass to keep them busy. After they inhale the grass, there is the usual rumble-strutting, the "whirling ball o' piggies," and much posturing, noise, and squabbling.
It's now a week later. Webster thought he was going to be top pig, since he's larger, and successfully evicted Pinkerton from his pigloo, but Pinkerton is holding his own. I replaced Webster's old wooden hidey hole with another pigloo identical to Pinkerton's, which cut down on the real-estate squbbles. We still had another whirling ball o' piggies this morning, over some imagined territorial slight, but no blood has been drawn, so I'll let them continue to sort things out for themselves.
Now you're all wanting a picture, I'm sure. Here they are in the bath (Pinkerton is the white one, Webster is the one with black ears and the patch over one eye):
And here they are just getting to know one another over a pile of fresh grass:
At least they aren't bored any more...