The Hamilton Herd

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hammer
Supporter in '10

Post   » Tue Mar 25, 2003 1:43 pm


Well, my love for all things piggy started with Rupert. I had had dogs, cats, and cockatiels my entire life, and moving into a university residence was one of the most trying years of my life. I just couldn't live happily without a furred or feathered face around.

So when I moved out of rez and into a house with five other girls (ack! but that's another story), I didn't waste any time adding a critter to the mix. I was threatened with eviction if I brought home a dog or a cat, so I did some research and landed on a guinea pig as a tidy, easy-to-take-care-of pet. I stocked up on all the supplies (including the "recommended" guinea pig starter kit, complete with pine shavings, alfalfa blocks, pig "treats", a bag of pellets wth dried fruit and colored bits, and a 2-ish square foot cage). Then came Rupert. A little TSW boar that I immediately fell in love with. He was the sweetest, most cuddly, lovable, wonderful pet a person could have. He would lie on my lap for hours while I studied, and popcorned like a maniac when I opened the fridge. He wasn't much of a wheeker though. After about a year, I started to think that my darling boy was lonely. My "guinea pig care" book said that males inevitably fight and will kill each other, but bunnies are good companions. So along came Riley, a sweet little dwarf bunny, and a bigger 5 sq. foot rabbit cage. I know, I know, but I got lucky. Riley wouldn't harm a fly, and is pretty sure he's just a big ugly guinea pig with funny ears. The two of them lived happily together (free-range when I was at home), with never a bad incident. Riley ate guinea pellets because I read that rabbit pellets were dangerous for piggers.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and the three of us now shared our life with Cannon the cat. And then Rob came. Rob is a farm-boy, with no pets in his past except the odd cat and his dad's hunting beagles. Rabbits were food, and he wasn't sure a guinea pig was worth much at all. Then Rupert got to work on him (he's still not all that fond of Riley), and Rob fell in love. It was only a few months before Rob wanted his own pig, and Guinea joined the herd. I still thought males would fight, so Guinea lived in a separate but next-door petstore cage. He was the complete opposite of Rupert, macho and pushy from the start. Rob called him super-guinea, because he would leap from the floor to Rob's (sitting down) shoulder with no warning.

A few months later, we noticed Rupert was not well. He had lost a lot of weight, and wasn't eating his veggies even. Finally, after trying to feed him some organic applesauce (his fave), on a spoon, we drove to the emerg. vet at 1 am (keep in mind Rob had a final exam the next day). The vet filed his teeth down (the front ones), and sent him home with a syringe and instructions to get some water into him. NO critical care, no look at the back teeth, no syringing intstuctions. I sat up with him all night, but it was to no avail. My sweetheart, due to my ignorance and lack of knowledge, basically starved to death because I didn't recognize the signs of maloclussion (I didn't even know it existed!).

The day Rupert died, I did huge internet research. I found CG, and learned all kinds of crazy stuff. Like alfalfa was bad for him, and so was the pine bedding. That his cage was way too small, and he shouldn't live with a rabbit anyway. THat boys CAN get along (although I still haven't been successful with that). I also found this site, but since I had started with CG and got to know the people there, I mostly lurked here and posted med. questions.

The urge began for another pig, for both Rob and I. One day I came home and in a new cage next door to Guinea's was the most adorable little silver-and-white agouti boar, already christened Pig (don't blame me for the names). Rowdy moved in soon after, another petstore pig brought home by my sweetheart. I lectured him, saying "No more petstores for you!" Next came Sugar and Spice, a pair of girls that the neighbor kids got for CHristmas and were already bored of. Then I went to the store to get food, and the girl there showed me Scruff, who had been dropped by a man who said "If you don't take her, I'll let her out in a field". She was half-starved, with curly nails and lice. She came home too. She still lives by herself, as she hates all guinea pigs. Panda was at the SPCA, a fat healthy girl. SHe came home too, and moved into the first C&C cage in our house. She brought her own baggage, and her three little girls were born three weeks later (Pika, Bandit, and CowPig). Last of all was Nickel, the most gorgeous chubby little agouti you've ever seen. She was also from the petstore, but she was a reject...people didn't want "plain brown pigs" as the salesgirl told me when I asked why she was all alone in the back of the display area. She was named Nickel after the Canadian five-cent piece, because she looks just like a beaver.

And that's the Hamilton herd. From one to eleven in less than a year. And the door is closed. Except, possibly, for SusieQ's boars next week. But then its definately closed, because we have no more space! And its all thanks to Rupert. If it wasn't for his sad passing, I would never have known how to deal with Pig's impaction, Scruff's lice, Guinea's mites, or Scruff's UTI. I'm so grateful that I found this place, and I've come out of the woodwork since the last censor-fest over at CG. Thanks for having us!

Rob says that Rupert must have been special...it took eleven pigs to fill the hole he left in our lives.

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Lynx
RESIST

Post   » Tue Mar 25, 2003 3:27 pm


What an adventure! At least you've given them a great home and now know what to look for. I hope they stay healthy and happy.

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Seansfamily

Post   » Sat Mar 29, 2003 12:20 am


What a lot of excitement in just one year!

Thanks for sharing your story and for joining in on our general chatter, too.

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hammer
Supporter in '10

Post   » Fri Jan 09, 2004 11:06 am


Whew. Thought I should update a bit. I especially like the "the door is closed" bit! Haha. Riley the bunny (who lived with Rowdy after Rupert died...I'll never house another rabbit with a guinea pig, but he couldn't bear to be without one of his pigs) passed away this summer, and Rowdy was very lonely. Lo and behold, one of SusieQ's surprise boars needed a home. Teeny little Jack moved in, and Rowdy became his Lord protector pretty much immediately. We always sort of worried about Jack, since he was so small, and we had one horrible day when we thought we might lose him to heat stroke (even with AC the room was really warm, but everyone else was okay). After he passed the 3.5 month old mark, we figured he'd be okay. He never grew very much (was never over 1.5 pounds), and at six months old the little trooper gave up the fight. He was so tiny, just like his poor mom, and I suppose he just never had much of a chance. We all loved him, though, and were very sad to see him go, especially Rowdy.

I was so worried about Rowd. To lose two cagemates in six months must have been pretty hard on him. And he moped around for a couple of days, even lost two ounces. But there were no little pigs in rescues nearby, or at the SPCA. Then, a miracle! My vet called me up with the news that a woman had just brought in a little baby Abby that was an "accident". He wanted to know if I wanted to take him! I ran over there, checked him out (yes, boy!), and brought him home. I hemmed and hawed and decided to take the risk...both he and Rowdy went into quarantine together...Rowdy was so happy! He popcorned like crazy that night. Its been a month and a half now, and this little scrap of an abby (my first) has already passed Jack in weight (1 lb 10 ounces), and I think he's going to be a porker. His name is Sherbert, and if you want to see a picture of him, check out Erin's Sunny. They are twins, I swear.

ANyway, that's the update on the Hamilton Herd.

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