In the mean time, Cloudy got used to her ways. She had the run of the cage, all of the food and could sleep wherever she wanted without getting walked over. She bonded to me, coming up to be petting and enjoying being held. She sits next to me when I do homework at times. She passed through a bratty period and became a much better behaved pig. No more dumping the food, or knocking the water bottle down. Her wheeks became louder as she grew, and she learned how to beg very effectively. In fact she begged to the point that we had to keep the kids from offering her anything they happened to be eating! She did remain opinionated, and it made me worry about getting a new pig. She tried to be dominant with us, what would she do to a new pig?
I first started looking at the local ARL, but I was worried about getting the right kind of pig for Cloudy. They're nice people there, but most of them knew nothing about matching guinea pig personalities. I couldn't just take a pig and have things go horribly wrong. Cloudy didn't like other guinea pigs she had encountered, starting fights with them. But that was in her bratty period, so I tried not to worry too much.
Through GL I got into touch with ladyveg and Baraboo Rescue. Cavyhaven13 fosters for her, and only lived a few hours away. I talked a lot through e-mail with these two about Cloudy's dominant personality and Rachel found a good, shy little pig for us, who wouldn't mind letting Cloudy have her way. And so off to meet this little pig we went. And what a trip that was. But I shall save that for later if people are interested in my pig story.
I think the kids were just happy to be out of the car, and excited to see guinea pigs. Or "gimme pigs" as Maddie calls them.
As Cathy could tell you, all three of them were very bouncy and the two older spent some time playing with....well....whatever those vibrating fluffy noisemakers were.
Then Cathy took us to meet Roxie. I was amazed when we walked in that room of hers. Big cages of guinea pigs in their very own room! Wow. I have a decent sized cage in the living room, and a wish for something bigger for my pig (now pigs).
Roxie was in a cage by herself, in her cardboard box. I had heard she was a shy one, and seen some pictures of her, but they didn't do her justice. She's a fluffy little black aby with white spots and a bit of curiosity. When Cathy's husband handed her to me, she sniffed and nibbled my finger, then settled into the crook of my arm. I just petted this sweet little thing who wanted so badly to chew on my sweater. Blake joked we'd have to take her home after all we had been through to get her.
The kids all petted her, and the other guinea pigs, and were reasonably well behaved around the animals. Ilan did try to help himself to a guinea pig, which reminded me of why we don't have an open cage, but luckily there was no harm done, and he didn't try to pet pigs without permission again. I think. I was enthralled with the fluff ball in the crook of my arm.
We talked guinea pigs with Cathy for a while, then gathered up our brood after taking care of the adoption fee and paperwork and took our newest family member home. Luckily that trip was a little less exciting. A little.
Ilan wet his pants while we frantically tried to find him a bathroom, poor thing. So he had to sit in wet pants all the way home. But we made it, and aside from Maddie's leg knocking into the pet carrier when she fell asleep, Roxie had a quiet ride home.
About 8:00 we get in. First thing Blake and I tend to the kids. Ilan gets cleaned up, Jocelyn changed, and Madeline needs some juice. Cloudy hears the fridge and goes off like a siren. Roxie surprises me by wheeking once or twice in response. Cloudy was unaware of this new guinea pig until now, and reacts. She freezes, her little pink eyes bugging out like they do when she's freaked out. Then comes the teeth chattering followed by a funny little snort. Great. Should I start worrying?
Roxie was on meds for a URI, and can't be with Cloudy for a while. But we did have the quarrantine cage under Cloudy's due to lack of space. Our bedroom's cramped with the bed, shelves, a dresser, and the study area I set up. Of course I wouldn't put anything living in the kids' rooms. Eek! And I've never been fond of animals in the kitchen. Anything that kicks poop out of their cage doesn't need to be where I have to eat.
So, for the next four days Cloudy paces around the area of her cage closest to Roxie's. That's about all she did, for when I weighed her she had lost an ounce. I decided enough is enough, and when I gave Roxie her last dose of medicine, I gave her a good looking over.
Everything seemed fine with her. Despite her constant need to hide, she looked and acted like a healthy guinea pig. So I plopped them both on a towel on the couch and waited to see what happened.
It was the usual dominance dance, nobody drew any blood. Cloudy displayed, Roxie perked up and squeaked at her. It was like she wanted a friend, and was happy to see another cavy. Ilan came over and asked the pigs what they were doing, which startled Roxie. She tried to clamber into a corner by literally running over Cloudy, who had lost interest in Roxie for a moment. She was giving the corner a good sniff for whatever reason.
That's when the skirmish started. Cloudy literally threw Roxie off her. There was a bit of a scuffle that I stopped by throwing a handy shirt over Cloudy. I knew there was a reason I didn't put laundry away! The rest of the introduction went fine, so I felt comfortable putting them in the same cage the next day.
And that's where we stand now. Roxie's getting better about being held, but still freaks out about being picked up, and Cloudy shows off all her nice dominant behaviors. Heaven forbid that Roxie should try to eat or drink without being bothered. I have to laugh at Cloudy at times because she'll get up from where she's laying simply to go growl at Roxie and lay back down again. Roxie just gives her this look that seems to say "What?"
Roxie is settling down now, and spends more time out in the open. She enjoys it when the kids talk to her. Cloudy give me attitude, like she's offended I thrust this new pig on her. In fact I had her on my lap last night, and she hopped over to Ilan's lap when he sat down next to me. And I thought she was my pet!
I feel more comfortable knowing my pig has a cagemate the way guinea pigs should, especially since there are times when the homework load is terrible and I can't do more than give some quick pets and 'housekeeping' before buryng myself in casebooks. Blake loves the little things (well, at least Roxie), but Spot was his guinea pig and he won't allow himself to get close to one right now. Luckily the kids adore them, too. They're up at the cage talking to the girls. Even Jossie crawls over there, pulls herself up and burbles at them.
Maybe the two won't be the best of friends, or bond, but the behavior is becoming more subtle. I believe that they enjoy each other's company, as much as they don't want to admit it right now. And I'm very happy to have been able to help Roxie out by giving her a much better home than that poor neglected pig had with her former owners.
Roxie's become less skittish with us, but she still runs and hides whenever The Big Hand comes into the cage, the little chicken. She loves to be petted, just not picked up. Cloudy, of course is an attention freak and comes up to me whenever I have a hand in the cage for any reason. She's a real people pig. More so now that there's competition. Actually she's more of a JD pig, because she won't get near my husband. I tease him by saying he's got to stop beating up on her and she'll like him. He gives me a look.
Roxie thinks of Cloudy as a friend. Cloudy thinks of Roxie as someone to dominate. I often say that Cloudy is my guinea pig, and Roxie is Cloudy's guinea pig. She follows Cloudy around like a little dog, panicking if Cloudy leaves an area without her. Cloudy tolerates the tagging along as long as Roxie doesn't run into her when she stops.
It is almost like a sister relationship; the little tagalong, and the selfish big sister who wants everything to herself. Cloudy has taken to gorging herself, even eating stuff she wouldn't before touch. She was strictly a tomato pig, never eating other vegtables or fruits. But if Roxie shows interest in the food, Cloudy's right there eating it.
Roxie has maintained her weight, but Cloudy's gained two ounces, and it's all in the form of a dewlap, I think! She has a huge waddle now.
I have in my room a table set up so I can study (which I should be doing right now). When I'm feeling brave I let the girls study with me for short stints. They like to hide under the shelf on my table and watch me type. Occasionally someone tries to eat my books. I have to admit they're great stress reducers, these pigs. They're not adverse to a scratch when I need a moment away from the books. Here's a picture of my study area shelf. If you look closely, you can see Cloudy's foot and tummy above the book's title, although the picture may be too small now to see since I resized it.
Ok, on second thought it doesn't seem to want to resize.
Roxie hides constantly. She's the most skittish little thing I've ever come across. To help socialize her, I'm mean and take out all the possible hiding spots in the cage for a few hours when we're home. Any cardboard boxes are removed and their tent is unpinned from the side of the cage.
Roxie spent the first month of this routine following Cloudy around and cramming herself in behind her poor cagemate. While she still follows Cloudy around a lot, she's become a lot more friendly and independent.
Cloudy is very sociable, and will come to the side of the cage to be petted, unless she's in heat, then she's a real bitch who growls at anyone who approaches, and runs away from any attempt at affection.
Roxie slowly has been coming around. Just last week she allowed me to slowly approach her while she was in the tent and pet her on the head. Today she actually took some lettuce from my husband's hand. She's started wheeking for veggies. It's a weird little wheek, and the first time I heard it, I was convinced she was in pain. Very high pitched, very frantic.
Cloudy's attitude has changed a bit towards her cagemate. She doesn't like me trying to pick Roxie up. Roxie will hide behind Cloudy and Cloudy will rumblestrut at me as I try to get to Roxie.
On the other hand, as far as Cloudy's concerned, she's the only pig who deserves to be petted. I had both out at once, scratching one, then the other. Cloudy literally climbed over Roxie to butt my hand. It was like she was saying "I'm the Head Pig. Pet me!" That's the only time I've ever heard Roxie growl. Not even the lowly little subordinate pig likes to be stepped on! :)
I got a bath today. It's not often this happens, since I keep myself pretty clean without my human's help, so I should probably explain.
It was cage cleaning day. Not the sweep up the poops and check the towels type day, but a full strip down the cage and scrub everything type cleaning. The boy wanted to hold me on the couch while my human cleaned. He's pretty nice and gives me head rubs, but today I really wanted to be active. While he was talking to my human, I decided to make a run for it! I scrambled up the arm of the couch on to the end table and into a bag of Fritos left there. My human came running over to pull me back out.
Boy, was I greasy! Back into the carrier with Roxie I went after I was pulled out of the bag, then once the cage was done, I was taken to the bathroom. Eek! Bath! I hate baths! Much grumbling and many attempts to escape later, I was taken to the bedroom to be dried with the hair dryer. Ok, I admit I like that. I love sitting there with the soft, warm air blowing on me until I'm fluffy. Just don't tell my human, all right?