Cashew is such a fraidy-pig.
Sadly, because Cashew was returning with me to my parents home again and - due to redecorating - was likely to be in the more portable quarantine pet shop cage for a period I sadly, sadly, sadly declined the baby pig. The little guy stole my heart, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to provide him with the room he would need to grow - and if something went wrong during the introductions into the same living space together, the pet shop cage wouldn't provide the same flexibility as a C&C.
But it was so obvious that Cashew was mentally excited at the rescue. The babies led a chorus thinking it was veggie time and Cashew poked his head out from beneath the hay and got excited with them. He looked so alive - it was clear that he would benefit from a friend. How wrong I was to think he'd be fine on his own.
But we went home alone without a friend. Instead I took the time to get to know him more and attempt to bond with him. Unfortunately the move seemed to knock his confidence off balance and then when I moved into my own flat it was knocked again.
Now with a larger cage I was ready to bring a baby peeg into Cashew's life! I e-mailed Thistle Cavies and then waited as a new litter of pups grew up and became ready...
Getting Koda was indeed a bit of an epic story all by itself...
But they were a match made in heaven. While it took Cashew a little while to realise that Koda wasn't for humping every day, once he'd stopped pursing Koda's head and rear-end, Koda turned out to be quite the snuggler and would snuggle with Cashew anywhere whether Cashew wanted to or not.
Cashew taught Koda all of his bad habits: how to climb into the hay and pee in it and how to run from humans. After a long battle I managed to undo some of Cashew's unnecessary lessons and Koda turned into a well balanced, calm, friendly - if nippy - little brat :)
They grew older. Koda went through his teenage phase and learned to fight back against Cashew's persistent humpings and they bonded. All was well in pig land.
Koda decided that the dropping of veggies was related to how loud he wheeked at all passing humans. It sometimes worked so it was obviously worth trying... at all times in the morning...
And the two began to - slowly - get to grips with the joys of living room floortime when they were given free range of a large laminate area. Which, as Koda didn't hesitate to let me know was cold, cold cold!
And as I got over my scaredy-cat phobia of clipping my boys nails...
and began to network with other UK piggie slaves I came across an... opportunity of sorts. An opportunity which went surprisingly although there was always the chance that I could have shot myself in the foot.
In reflection, I did shoot myself in the foot a little bit. Such is the addictive, adorable nature of these little tail-less rodents.
- Supporter in '10
I began to find more information about the little guy and the date of the adoption was set. Looking back, the entire adoption process was vague and rocky - probably because the rescue representative hadn't ever met the pig in question and was passing on information in her own words from the adopter.
He was 2 years old and had problems with his back. When I asked for more information about his back the back problems began to sound more like something common in guinea pigs: the dislike of having their butt's scratched. I was confused - if it was normal why was it mentioned at all? Boyfriend thought at this point that I should pull out of the adoption, but I felt sealed into the deal - it was probably just a case of Chinese Whispers, right?
And so I began to prepare for the new boy who was up for rehoming because he had been alone since he was 6 months old and had an epic battle with his cage companion. His companion had been rehomed earlier and now it was Mimic's turn since the owner found herself with less and less time to care for him.
So Mimic (renamed from Cuddles) came to live with me with a written letter from his previous owners and a warning that he is a wire eater. After his quarantine period I introduced him to both Koda and Cashew on the bathroom floor - and it was surprisingly uneventful. Mimic seemed to have absolutely no manners and would try to steal food from everyone's mouths, but apart from that there was no rumbling, chattering or ... anything...
As Mimic began to settle into life living with pigs, I noticed that he often spent a lot of time lying or sitting on his own while Koda and Cashew would snuggle together. It also worried me that Mimic hadn't connected my "food whistle" with having to come to the front of the cage for veggie time. I was afraid that he was the "third pig wheel" of the cage but held back on taking action... he was, after all, the newbie to a cage where a bonded pair resided and was still learning how to be a good boy to avoid Koda's bratty nips of "DON'T DO THAT!"
I mentioned above that before I adopted Mimic it had been mentioned that he had back problems which were suggested to be nothing serious... as his stay grew longer I began to notice things, first of all that whenever his back was stroked he would sometimes go into a biting fit. In a fit of panic I treated everyone for mites and when the behaviour persisted and was accompanied by a decline in his weight I turned to both Thistle Cavies, GL and my vet for help.
At the vet it was noticed that Mimic very much had a problem with his back - a very visible problem which I had assumed was a trick of the eye caused by him being a ridgeback. He has a notable dip in his spine which Koda (my control pig) did not have.
I immediately spoke to the rescue who I'd gotten Mimic through. They told me that Mimic had been to the vet previously, but said that nothing had been found to be a problem then offered no further support besides a bag of critical care.
I was annoyed. The more I watched Mimic go wild over his metacam-laced critical care the more angry I got - especially when another rescue e-mailed me to offer to take Mimic and his problems on. Mimic's problem had the potential to soar cost-wise and at a time in my life when I was beginning to dip into the piggie fund for my own basics, this wasn't what I needed to hear.
A trip to the vet confirmed this as the vet went from gentle to ... not-gentle with his back and the amount of pressure she put on it. We reduced his pain killer dose and he hasn't relapsed to this date.
As well as Mimic revealing abnormalities in his spine - which is positive in the sense that I'm now aware that he may have a problem in the future - this month was also great for the trio.
Koda finally permitted Mimic to snuggle beside him without nipping at his face first!
They even began to work together...
Mimic had been fully accepted into the group and took his place as the saxy legged boar, room mate to the fiery Koda and scaredy-peeg Cashew.
The spotlight soon descended on Koda when Thistle Cavies asked for a photographic submission of His Highness for the 2010 calendar... it turned into a group event (with my foot to stop Koda from aiming his jump toward the cage... there was a drop between them, damnit!)
He was originally going to be called "Tea" and I use to always just refer to him as "newPig" or "newbie" but Mimic seemed to fit him better.
He does work the saxxy foot! Rumour is that he has his eyes on Mitzy, Momo :D
It started with squeeking, grunting, weight loss and heaving and ended with two quizzical vets and a large vet bill and no results. Awesome.
He didn't light up like a Christmas pig under the x-ray and his urinalysis didn't scream for action. His test results came back at a time when I had to quickly relocate myself from my mouldy flat to my boyfriends well aired, well lit rental in the more pleasant side of the city... and Cashew's weight - along with the other boys - did a predicted drop and then rapid gain in response.
Since then, Cashew's weight has remained stable and the intensity of his pain reduced and isn't as frequent as it was at the peak of his treatment. I feel like, in essence, I did nothing to aid his recovery - besides making him ingest a concoction of prescribed (unnecessary?) antibiotics and forcing pain relief and critical care down his throat. Perhaps he has an addiction to CC that he wanted sated... perhaps we missed something and it's going to come back bigger, badder and worse. Perhaps I should look into treating him for interstitial cystitis before that happens.
I find it interesting how something so small can make me feel so utterly useless.
Their first adventure was to the Boyfriend flat. What was originally planned to be a three-day gatecrash of his floor turned into a 3-week marathon. Mid-way through their stay I couldn't help but feel that the cramped temporary 2x3 C&C was somewhat poorly planned. The theory was that in three days the boys wouldn't have settled enough to beat each other up. As it happened, they're good room mates and didn't seemed bothered by the cramped conditions...
However, just because the three boys were tolerant of the small space didn't mean they'd be happy to welcome intruders... especially not "Beat Up Peeg"
In fact, they became so use to being in such close proximity with each other I could swear sometimes that they had become one pig...
But that doesn't mean that everypig is invited to the same party. Cashew, in his role of dominant skittish pig, was still keen to make sure Koda and Mimic knew who was boss of the hay... if only they'd listen...
But it wasn't all bad. The pigs soon learned how to manipulate the other flatmates and it was at Boyfriends that MIMIC learned to wheek for veggies! I soon found out that my poor starving pigs were actually being snuck lettuce leaves from their lettuce bag by certain Other Flat Members who felt sorry that the pigs were being left alone in the room while I was working or busying myself trying to move into my flat.
Also, Boyfriends flat has a garden. Where there's a garden in Scotland, there's grass!!
I swear, the neighbours thought I was nuts going outside to collect bagfuls of grass for the day...
Soon, before the pigs developed bloat from all the grass they were given, it was finally time to move into our new flat...
The only problem is that... well... I'm an idiot. I called a taxi to come and collect the pigs and the remainder of my stuff, the parting comment of the girl taking my call was that it was at the drivers discretion as to whether he'd take me - and my entire cage - or whether he'd think it was a job suited for a moving van...
... cue me being an idiot and not connecting that they thought I was travelling with a CAGE and not grids and connectors...
I panicked and while Boyfriend was rolling his eyes I grabbed the pigs, my bags and fled to the waiting taxi and then ... realised I only had what grids I had in my bag.
At least the pigs have been upgraded to the living room until the rest of their cage arrives.
All of this travelling seems to have made my pigs look a bit neglected. Soon to follow will be picture of the pigs Cage warming and their After-Travel Spa treatment consisting of Critical Care Cocktails, nail clipping, shampooing and a full salad buffett!