My grandfather had hunting beagles, but nobody ever played with them. They discouraged me from doing it because those dogs lived their whole lives chained to their doghouses. They never came indoors and they never had a bath (the doghouses were incredibly nice, but. . .)
We had a cat, but it lived at my grandmother's.
I was allowed a parakeet and a pair of mice, but I always wanted more pets.
Finally, when I was twelve, I was allowed to have a dog. Goldi was a rescue shih tzu who was terrified of everyone and everything, but with a lot of love she learned to trust us.
I never even considered getting a guinea pig. I didn't know anyone who had one.
Fast-forward many years. . .
I was now 26 years old and had two daughters of my own (as well as several tanks of fish, turtles, a sharpei-pit mix. . .)
One afternoon I was watching Star Trek reruns with my older daughter, who was five at the time. She asked me if we could get a tribble and of course I told her yes, figuring I was off the hook on THAT one.
A few months later we were in the pet store (don't shoot me, I didn't know about pet stores at the time) buying parakeet food or fish food or something like that and my daughter called, "Mommy! Come look at the tribbles!"
Yep. You guessed it. A pair of TSW Cresteds.
Well, she had me on a technicality. I had a 40-gallon fish tank *cringes* at home so I told her to pick one out. When the store worker removed "Tribble" from the cage, the other piggie started to scream at the top of its lungs. The pet store worker put the other pig in the box with Tribble and told us, "They're so attached, I guess you get a two-fer."
That is how Tribble and Furzball (do NOT let the 5-year-old name the pigs) came to live with us.
Furzball began to expand. . .and expand. . .she gave birth to five TSW Crested babies. Only two of them made it, Bunny (the ears!) and Patches, and Patches was blind in one eye.
About the only thing I did right was to take Tribble out of the cage before the babies came. I didn't know he could backbreed her but I thought he might eat the babies or something.
I left the boys in with their mom for six weeks. . .believing that if she was still nursing them, that they were too young to do anything to her. Luckily they didn't. I guess I squeaked by that one!
We built a pen for the boys out of an old playpen, some sheet linoleum, and carpenter's cloth and they lived happily all together. Furzball resided alone.
At this point I didn't have a computer yet (early 90's) and the book I had was a piece of junk put out by some pet food company which was loaded with incorrect information, but of course I thought that if the book said it, it must be right! I am surprised the pigs were as healthy as they were, I am ashamed of the way I took care of them. They always had clean cages but of course Furzie was in a fish tank, and they didn't get as much hay as they should have, and the only veggies I ever gave them was carrots and green leaf lettuce, and at that only a couple times a week. I'm embarrassed to admit this stuff to you guys but I am being honest here.
Later that year we moved to a bigger house and I bought two more piggies, Jack and Rose. They were roan Abyssinians and I am glad I assumed they were brother and sister and never bred them, as I had no idea about lethals at the time. I bought Jack and Rose because they were beautiful.
The piggies had their own room at the house (I kept my books in there and the piggies). Rose was living with Furzball and all four boys were lving together. It was around this time that I noticed Furzie expanding again. I couldn't figure out what had happened as I knew darn well that none of the boys had been anywhere near her.
Later I found out that my roommate had let them all "play together" on several occasions when I wasn't home (this, after I had yelled at the kids about it--boy, did I feel bad for blaming them when it wasn't them)!
Furzball had five live babies and two stillbirths in that litter. One of the babies died at ten days old, we kept two (Creepy and Tara) and the other two went to a friend.
Then something awful happened. My roommate had a pit bull (I had one too) and he was letting the dogs "play" with the pigs. Tara was killed. To this day I doubt the dog meant to hurt her but the end result was the same. I was heartbroken and very upset.
Not even a week later, Tribble came down with a URI and passed away. Vet care for him never even crossed my mind, I'm sorry to say.
Meanwhile, the whole roommate situation wasn't working out too well. I found a new apartment and started moving things over there. Before I had got very far on it (but fortunately after I had moved the pigs and our bunny, Vanilla) the house burned down. I am not sure to this day exactly what happened. The official word was that it was an electrical fire but sometimes I wonder if my roommate did it. We lost over half of our things and our dog was killed. I was over at the new apartment with my younger daughter at the time, unpacking storage bins to reuse. My older daughter was at school.
Because we had to replace most of our things, I didn't have a lot of money to devote to pets, so we didn't get any new ones for several years. Jack and Rose passed away and Patches and Bunny found a new home, as did Vanilla the bunny. We never considered giving up Furzball or Creepy, though.
Creepy was a great friend to my older daughter. He used to ride around on her shoulder all the time. She kept him in her room but most of the tme his cage was open and he went in and out as he pleased. When she did homework or watched TV he was usually with her.
Once her jumped off of her shoulder and injured his back legs. We were really upset about it but he slowly recovered until he was moving normally again. Creepy passed away in 2001, at the age of four.
Furzball became our "grand old lady." Her wheeking ruled the house! She spent more time out of her cage eating treats or wandering around the house or cuddling than she did in it.
In June of 2002, when Furzball was seven years old, we noticed one morning that she wasn't wheeking for breakfast. She was sluggish and her body temperature was down. Furzball died peacefully in my daughter's arms.
Skye, the parakeet, used to go perch on the empty cages and cheep softly as if to wonder where his friend had gone. He used to behave as though the piggies belonged to him--he would follow them around when they were loose, and at feeding time he would precede us into the room and share veggies from the dish.
At the time, however, there was no local place that carried piggies except one small and dirty pet store which I didn't trust--all the animals always looked sick--and PetSmart which in my opinion charges outrageous prices.
Then in late October of 2003--over a year after Furzball passed--my friend told me that her stepson's biological mother had a litter of baby guinea pigs and there was one who wasn't spoken for--would I like him? I said yes without hesitation and sight unseen.
My older daughter's 13th birthday was coming up so I went with my friend to purchase the supplies and stashed them under her bed. Time seemed to pass so slowly as I waited for the little fellow to be ready to come home. Her birthday is December 11, but the piggie would be ready before that, so she would be getting her gift early.
On November 13, we went over to my friend's after school. When we walked in the door, she handed Kaiti a ball of orange-and-brown fluff. He was five weeks old and beautiful! Kaiti actually began to cry when she realized he was for her and our time of "piglessness" was at an end.
He was immediately at home. He is probably one of the calmest, most personable pigs I have ever met. He loves to be held. His cage was placed in the dining room where he could see what was going on in the kitchen and living room. Every time someone walked by his cage, they would stop and talk to him and he quickly learned to beg to come out (we can never resist)!
It took a few weeks to come up with the perfect name for him but eventually he was christened Bandit.
Bandit would allow the kids to photograph him in any situation and would pose patiently. I swear he knows when the camera is pointed at him, that he is expected to say "Cheese!"
Bandit grew fast and in no time weighed nearly three pounds! He loved to go hang out with the kids in the backyard. He would sit and eat grass and sometimes wander onto their blanket for a nap. He never even tried to run off.
Bandit is also great friends with our little dog. The two of them invented some games which usually consisted of Jazz barking and Bandit chasing her around. Then they would curl up together for a nap.
By this time of course we had become better owners. Research had shown me how much I didn't know, and for the second half of her life Furzie had benefitted from this. Bandit came in and immediately became the King. He is beautiful and we adore him and he knows it. He also has HUGE eyes which he knows how to use!
Bandit is a chirper and it is a wonderful sound. He loves to settle in for a snuggle and some well-deserved treats (as the King, is very presence is enough to command treats).
Here is His Royal Majesty, allowing his lowly subjects to photograph him. He is starting to "grizzle" around his piggy lips a little but is still active and not showing his age at all.
In the summer of 2005, both my girls were playing Ponytails softball. My little dog and I went to every game and practice and naturally became acquainted with the other moms. During the course of conversations, they of course learned that we had a guinea pig and in early August, one of the moms approached me saying that her aunt had some guinea pigs she didn't want and would I like to have some?
The girls and I discussed it and the end result was that she brought over Kiki, Tribble (2) and Little Guy. Kiki and Tribble were a bonded pair of young sisters and Little Guy was their brother from a different litter. Kiki was a lovely cream and white Abyssinian with red eyes. Tribble was a TSW so was named after the first Tribble, though she was a girl and an Abby, not a Crested. Little Guy was a golden agouti Abby.
Little Guy's health was not so great and we spent a lot of time getting him to gain weight, but eventually he began to thrive. During this time we also had my younger daughter's "class gerbil", Luigi, at our house for the summer (at my daughter’s request). During a phone call to her teacher to report on Luigi’s health, I mentioned the piggies and she asked if perhaps we would be willing to give her one for her daughters.
We had another one of our famous “family discussions” and decided that Little Guy would be the one to go. She only wanted one and Kiki and Tribble were a bonded pair.
They are sisters, but as different as night and day. Not only do they not look alike, but Tribble is noisy, grabby and pushy, while Kiki is much sweeter and lets her sister push her around. However, they hate to be separated and will holler unless they can see each other.
Tribble always thinks she is on the verge of starving to death and will tell you so.
She is trying to look innocent here.
Kiki enjoys laptime but will call to Tribble if she can’t see her.
Where one is, you will find the other. They both manage to cram into the pigloo at the same time and always eat together, though Tribble steals from Kiki.
It came time for the girls’ softball banquets and while I was at my younger daughter’s, I spoke to the woman who had brought us Kiki, Tribble and Gus. I told her that Gus had found a new home and how much we were enjoying Kiki and Tribble.
She mentioned that the person she had gotten them from still had the parents and really, really didn’t want them.
So along came
And baby Henry.
Elvis is a handsome TSW Abyssinian. He is definitely mismarked as he has very little brown. He is pretty friendly. He doesn’t really feel like people are instrumental to his life, except as food providers, but if you want to hold him he is okay with that. He does not struggle or bite and allows himself to be handled, but you get the feeling that if nobody ever picked him up again he’d be okay with that. . .as long as he has his Mama to snuggle. Elvis is a very laid-back pig and reclines like he hasn’t got a worry in the world.
Mama is a golden agouti Peruvian mix (we think) with one white foot. She was another story. She was terrified. She’d bite and kick and fight and run. She did not want anything to do with us. She would hide in the pigloo until after we stepped back from filling the bowls. One step toward the cage and she’d be hiding again. We didn’t see her very much.
I am happy to say that Mama has completely changed—in a year she went from a completely antisocial, people-shy pig to a sweet girl who will climb up in your lap if you are sitting on the floor during her floortime and who loves to be petted. She is one of the loudest wheekers at feeding time and does not hesitate to shove the Giant Hand out of the way if it does not put her food bowl down quickly enough to suit her. She will still run if the Giant Hand comes at her to scoop her up, but she doesn’t run very hard and once you pick her up she is content to snuggle for hours. She has also never peed or pooped on anyone—but I don’t know if she has excellent control or if we have just been lucky. J Mama does not like other pigs though—except for Elvis. We tried to put her, Kiki and Tribble together once and it was not a pretty sight. Mama went straight into attack mode.
We weren’t sure exactly what to do with Henry. We “knew” he would not get along with Bandit and figured he had to come away from his parents before Elvis hurt him. We were going to rehome him, but we became very attached to his antics very quickly and it was decided that Henry would stay. Henry is a very sweet pig and interacts well with people.
However, by now it was obvious that Mama was pregnant yet again and since Henry was getting pretty big, we decided to move him into his own cage.
We really didn’t want to keep breeding Mama, we figured she could use a quiet “retirement”. The problem was that every time we separated Mama and Elvis, the screaming was deafening. I have never seen a more bonded pair of piggies, and we were at a loss as to what to do. Since the damage had already been done, so to speak, we left Elvis and Mama together while we tried to decide how to solve this problem. We finally decided we would get Elvis neutered right after Christmas.
We woke up on the morning of November 20 and the kids were feeding the piggies their morning hay when Kaiti, my older daughter, called me over to see:
A.J. and Lily had arrived. A.J. was a lovelt cream boy and Lily was the black-and-white girl.
They were the first newborn babies we had seen in years, and my younger daughter Allie didn’t remember our other babies at all.
We quickly removed Elvis from the cage (still thinking he might hurt the babies).
So now we were an eight-pig family. A.J. and Lily grew awfully fast and at six weeks we were forced to separate them. It was tough, as A.J. was lonely and cried for his mother and sister.
Course with 70+ pigs there must more to the story so I will wait to pass judgement.
They sound really cute though! I'm at work so I can't see the pictures.