Before last year I have to admit that I was a little afraid to hold a guinea, much less own one. My sister had hers, Mr. Pig, and I would hold him if he were on a pillow. Hard to say why I was a little timid of them but I was.
Sometime last june I ran into a parent of my daughters' friend and he went into a story of how his daughter had to go to Alaska and she had this guinea pig that went to bed the night before as one but woke up as a total of four. He was going to dump the new babies at the pet store he bought the mother from. There was no way, scared, timid, ignorant of care, or otherwise was I going to let that happen. I took the three in that day. I posted an 'orphan piggies' message on CM to get education on orphan care and it took of from there.
The three were named cheddar cheese, george peppard (sp?), and wicket the pretty, pretty princess. These three were the cutest thing I had ever had the pleasure of caring for. From the chirping, wheeking, and popcorning I had mistaken for seizures I was hooked.
My sister's pig had taken very very ill and had to get put down later last summer. I went with her and we stopped at the spca near us just to get our minds on something else and that's when I saw my fourth guinea pig. For some time I had wanted to get wicket a friend as her brothers had matured and I didn't want them to breed. Seeing this so small yet so old guinea pig let me know that this was the one for her to room with. Rhubarb was over 4 years old and had a cancerous growth and was not expected to live, by my vet's guess, beyond the end of the month (this was august). Rhu hung on well past that until christmas week. She had taken the role of housemother to all of them and would peek her head out of the pigloo and give a raspy wheek to them all should they stay up too late or get too active for her. She also became master carrot thief, stealing them through the boys' grids and running back to her house to devour them.
I had noticed over time that she was getting a bit slower and her breathing was getting a bit labored. oh, forgot to mention why we didn't have her cancer removed. She was having a hard time gaining and maintaining a weight high enough for surgery and she was not given very good chances for survival during/after the operation. We figured that she was not in pain, ate off and on all day, and popcorned that she could make it without the operation. One night I had a bad feeling and wanted to pick her up, just because. She immediately jumped away from me and ran. This was not like her, so I knew this was the night to say our goodbyes. I held her close to me, cried and sang her to sleep. I felt her take one last breath and knew she was over the bridge. That night all the others seemed to be a little quieter. George chirped for someone other than his sister and it seemed a bit sadder.
My daughters were devestated that we had lost our Rhu and holding the others didn't seem to help out. They wanted to get another one to fill the void that she had left depsite my telling them that she was one of a kind and that it would be impossible.
Then my daughter's 9th birthday approached. We stop into the spca from time to time to see if someone is in need and we just happened to go when there was such a someone. Sean Bean, our big ole oreo, joined our family the first week of january. He was two years old and had been left by a family that just didn't have the room or time to care for him (as was the case with rhu). poor thing. So we tried to see if he could cage mate with george and cheddar, we didn't know that guineas are like people and that sometimes you can get, well, an anti social.
The two brothers had not fought until then, or had been mounted before either. Big gift of hey howdy to the two of them. No sir, they didn't like it. So now I had wicket alone and three males that had to be put in separate flats. Sean liked to hop the grids though and after catching him with wicket twice in one day I had to get him a roof and hope nothing happened between them.
Well, I know at one time or another we've all seen sickly guineas in petstores, like petsmart, and thought that if they stay they die. I chose to get these two bonethin babies that were mite infested and bitten up out of there (yes, I know I may not have done the right thing at the time. The next week there were five more in their place). The stores manager refused to pay a part of their vet fees, which exceeded $200, and said I could get 'better ones' and they would 'take care' of the sick ones for me for free. hmmm...imagine the expletives that came next. We named our little skinnies martin brodeur and mark messier (or lil devil and lil ranger respectively) and they joined wicket after quarantine. She was so happy to have company again. Took over as mama to them and all was well.
Until I noticed that pretty, pretty princess was like a frisbee. Within two days of noticing that she stopped eating. She would let me pet her and 'purred' at me, but I knew something was seriously wrong. We went to the vet and the jack*ss said she was stable and sent her home. I asked him, before I left, if she could have pups in there that could have died and cause her health problem. He said no. The next day no change and blood. I went back and demanded someone else and someone else took her back to the operating area right away. Within 10 minutes she came out in tears saying that her heart stopped and that she was gone. She even agreed that if she were in the night before she may have lived with surgery. They checked on the pups and all five were dead. Three of which had been that way for over a week and definitely caused her pain and illness. The other two died that morning in utero. I held her for 30 minutes before I let them take her. She was the most docile, loving creature I have known. I still miss her dearly.
About a week after that my sister calls me from animal control telling me that there was a guinea there and they hold them 7 days before putting them down. Michael entered our lived midmarch. He doesn't like to be cagemates with males, but is quite content to be neighbors with our other antisocian Sean. They live quite happily in the flat beneath George and Cheddar and all of them rock the bunkbed with their popcorning.
I found a pet supplies only store and lo and behold what is in that small box?! Two abandoned guineas just sitting there. The guy charged me five bucks. Enter Wayne Gretsky and Mario Lemieux. Both female and dominate in the flat o' the femmes. Lemieux seems to be the 'big mama' of the bunch and Gretsky the cranky elder that keeps the young ones in line.
To go back a few months, my husband helped me clean cages once and put males with females. That arguement lasted over a month when I felt it neccessary to bring it back up again, and again. Needless to say I was feeding them one night and saw something small and black running about the cage. I was freaking out thinking a mole or mouse got in and was about to start stomping when I noticed a brown, black, and white thing with it. Godallmighty. Where in the hell did that come from and from who???? I had to find large nipples (sorry for the graphics there) to see who mama was and the oreo gave Sean away as father once more. At first I thought that maybe I had missexed one of the newer arrivals, but no, all woman. Enter Batman and Robin.
Ever have the feeling that you should call your local shelter and see if someone needs you? Today there were two of those. Out of nowhere I called them and within an hour they were here. Two beautiful females that are cuddly and social. My husband freaked when he found out that I got two more, but I assured him that I was going to try to adopt the newest ones out to a good home.
I apologize for the length, didn't realize that I had that much to say :)
I'm thinking about naming the new gals, but I don't want to get attached as I am supposed to get them a home. However, I am thinking about spiced chai and mocha frappe. Not sure why, but it sounds right when I say it to them and they peep back at me. Wonder if they're into the chin rubbing the others are so addicted to.
Lynx, I didn't mind that no one posted I was kidding in that one post about mine not getting a reply. It was quite lengthy and I'm surprised if anyone read it all the way through.