My son had been born more special than most. But It could just be a mother's biased love that makes me speek this way. For those who do not know what Asberger Syndrom is...I'll give a brief discription. It's considered a mild form of Autism-- Most go misdiagnosed and because of that, Patrick (my son) had suffered a few year on these new drugs Docters and the School System trie to cram down children's throats so they behave. His IQ is geniuis leval, yet his ability to cope with the real world is nearly non existant. Not many adults feel comfortable around a child of 8 who can read at a leval as advanced if not more, then their own. Not many adults understood why are son paced, continiusly, spoke loudly and had to be reminded to keep it down. Not many adults, or family members could understand why he never looked into anyone's eyes, or gave hugs, or liked kisses or played ball, or even played with other children at all.
We descovered the way to reach him, was through his love for animals. The way to teach him about an emotion he had a hard time understanding, such as love, was to show him through something he could tangably touch and understand.
So, in the summer '99 Cosmo was brought into his life. In Oct. of 2000, though, God called Cosmo home. Patrick was devistated and withdrew back into a world of hostile anger and cringing fears of gorish death.
Christmas was coming.
He shut himself down. We were getting calls from school, from the office, about his constant outbursts. His tears, his angst towards the world. Hardly anyone could understand how something so small could have such a huge impact on him...but, as parents, we knew.
We also knew what we had to do, too.
When I found the add on the internet, it said "Free to good home. Guinea Pigs."...
I did the research and much to my pleasure, I found a small, warm sweet creature that would live longer then two years! Up to six.
So, it was aranged. We would take a sweet baby Teddy Boar.
But, when I did more research I realized that this baby may need a buddy. When I contacted the lady, she was more then thrilled to offer me two bounded brothers.
On Christmas Eve, as I tucked the kids all in for bed, and 'Santa" snuck out of the driveway in the mini-can (mini-van) to find that special delivery... However,he returned with three. The Wqman was on her way to the shelter to drop off the boar brother's father and my husbands big heart wouldn't allow that to happen. Not on Christmas eve.
Tiger was the father, loved, owned and named by my daughter Shannon. He was a dramatic deep orange color with dark brown tiger stripes.
Drake was one of the boys. a more submissive sweet shy natured piggy who seemed to adore his father and his brother. He was owned,named and loved by my son, Brendan. He was mostly white with smudges of gray across his eyes, and one ear and his rump.
Dragon was the more incharge, yet smallest of the three. It was love at first sight and Patrick would have no other. He has a black and brown mask, one ear block the other brown, and a body mostly blask with white shoulders and chest.
Dragon had a hard time with authority figures and eventually we had to seperate him from his father. Drake, adoring his brother, remained in the same habitat. Tiger was seperated.
Two months later, we got a cagemate for Tiger. A red crested self with the softest silky hair, adopted from the humane society. Molly, four at the time, fell in love..and so, she claimed him as her's. He was named Gordotte, from the play "Waiting for Gordotte"
Floor time, everyday, had always been fun. The first time we found out how dangerious it was if you didn't set the rules for the cat. Up jumped Jozi, and before we could stop her, she abducted Drake and carried him off to her fortress behind the Christmas tree. Drake screaming the entire time, and the rest of us yelling, too..the poor cat dropped him and ran, so unsure why we thought Drake was anything other than a snack.
She glared at us while we all cooed and checked our sweet piggy over. He was fine, though. She was pissed.
The next floor time, we were armed with a little water gun. She eventually caught on and stayed away.
There was never a moment,not one single time, that these little piggies were forgotten. No matter how busy durring the day I had gotten, or how rushed the kids were to get to their friends, the piggies were set up in the living room, and were always given attention. They were always in someone's lap, or at night when everyone was inside, and it was dark, floortime in front of the T.V.
Piggies have magic, as well. Put one in the arms of a sobbing child with a skinned knee, and watch a smile apear.
Patrick and Dragon were never hardly apart. When doing homework, he was curled in the boy's lap, munching a carrot or cellery stick. Dragon would get to hear all of Patrick's most darkest secrets and treasured beyond anything I've ever seen. That rare smile of Patricks came more often, and hearing this sweet boy's laughter a true treasure, all brought about by a sweet teddy named Dragon.
We live in a charming all brick ranch house, in a kul-de-sac.
All through spring and the coller more tolerable days of summer would bring allot of supervised outside time and the piggies loved it as much as the kids! Neighbors would come meet the herd and it was great to be able to answer any questions.
2001, again....spring and summer...romping in the clovers and munching the fresh cool grasses under a shade tree wile Patrick read his books. It was so peacefull for him and Dragon and the other piggies. 2002, again....the warm weather was reveled by animal and their kids alike...
But tragity soon struck...
My Mother in Law, a week before Christmas, was diagnosed with inoperable Cancer. The Docters did not think she would live to see another Holiday.
It seemed this year would be heartship after heartship.
Next, my Step Father, the ONLY Grandfather my children had ever known, suddenly passed away unexpectantly. The children had never dealt with the death of someone so close and it took all our energy to help them through this. Thier piggies were snuggled every night....and helped to releive the stress of what was happening.
Every day I'd go out to my Mother in Law's place, and cook, clean and help her as much as possible, taking my youngest while the other's were in school. Then I'd get home and go to work, back home...wake up and do it all again. I never really got tired, though. It was strange but I felt the most strength when I was helping her.
because I was not home, I did not see them spray the common ground with pestiside. I did not know the nieghborhood association had even changed the ground's care company to another. I never had a chance to read the letter they sent out to all of us...and because of that,it cost the lives of three of our piggies.
We all went outside, on a warm day and allowed them to graze and play..
By the time the sun went down, we had lost three and Dragon was barly hanging on to life. I rushed him to the Vet's but only the Emergency Vet was opened. He knew very little about treating exotics and just adminstered I.V fluids, ..then told us he suspected it was a poisoning. By the time we all got back home, trying to comfort our children, the phone call rang. It was the hospice my mother in law had entered a few days before. She had given up the fight and passed away in her sleep.
But,I had to hold it together. We had to deal with what was important. My husband helped his sister with funeral arangements. I feilded calls, and Patrick....well, Patrick concentrated on Dragon's care. He was such a weak, sick little piggy and it was touch and go for the first 48 hours.
Patrick wanted to take him to the funeral home, but we couldn't. We had to do the next best thing and admit him into the care of our Vet. It really was nothing he could do any different then the care we were giving at home, but when I explained what was happening fully, he not only let us admit the piggy, but he took him home that night for round the clock 'watch'...
three days later, we got Dragon back..
thin, frail, but wheeking for Patrick the minute he spotted him.
He was till a sick, depressed little piggy. With Drake gone and no one to cuddle with while Patrick was at school...recovery was slow for our little warrior.
2 months later, I saw another add in the paper. A woman needing to rehome her two sows. Both over a year old.
We gave her a call, and soon came home with a dark smoke gray Texal (with a bad haircut, they shaved her!) and a mostly white with gray smudges across her face and ears, Abby.
Shannon loves Curly Sue.
Brendon loves Angel.
But..Dragon is still alone. He talks to the girls and floor time is fun. None of them are allowed outside any longer, though.
Someday, I hope to find a cagemate for Dragon. He curls up against the grids of his cage, as close as he can to the girls. He gnaws at the grids to get to them..and when they are allowed floortime, he rushes to nose them..never venturing farther then an few inches.
I keep thinking if I just wait. If I hang on a little longer, some huge emergency will come along and I can finally step up and say "Let me help with a home."
After all...it's piggies that make the smiles I love to see in my family.
Blizzard, or as we love to call her "Bliz", is a Great Pyrenees. One of the most beautiful dogs in the entire world acording to my Husband. They don't put the word "Great" in there for nothing, either. If anyone knows this breed they are extremly nurturing, protective, maternal..to all their charges, great and small. Bliz is no exception to this.
They are , in my opinion, extremly unique in the dog world.
Not always quick to obey,or even eager to, but..will learn if they see it is important...to them.
What's this got to do with Cavies?...
See, the 'charges' she considered respondabilty fall under anything living, breathing, moving in our home. That could be children, other dogs, cats..and yes...cavies.
But, cavies confused her at first and she confused them.
The first floor time that accured, we introduced her to their smells..one by one. Holding each little guy in are arms, while we allowed this big nose to poke, prod, nuzzle against the sweet buncles of fur. And I do mean BIG nose. She tops the scale at a svelt 87lbs. Her muzzle alone is nearly twice the size of some of these guys.
Up when the fluffly white tail, and she got that cleam in her eye..that "Oh!" of understanding, and that huge tail began to wag...she danced from big clunky paw to the other, as she allowed each piggy onto the sheet that lay in the middle of the living room....
they all huddled together tho, terrified of this large white fluffy gaintess now prancing in circles around them. At first, she started into her puppy stance..butt up, front paws down...nuzzled their butts...but they weeked and huddled closer in a pile.
She looked up at me, confused, then looked at the Boss (My Husband) for some guidence..
He simply smiled and said "puppies, Bliz..puppies." That was her que to be extremly gentle. But these weren't the normal puppies she was so used to. The two legged kid ones run, jump, giggle, squeel and pet her. The other four legged kind share her food, and water and play with her. These new puppies just huddled together. You could just see her trying to figure this out in her mind untill it dawned on her! And she laid down, along the perimator of the sheet. Her head down low,resting against her paws as flat as she could and she simply..guarded them.
That was it.
No other animal in the house was allowed close to disturb these puppies. If a cat ventured to close, she'd stand, give a little grumble and the cat would leave. If any of the othe dogs (a westie, and a boston) would venture to close, she'd warn them off too.
In time, the piggies would, one by one, venture closer to her. To this day, when it's floor time...Bliz is there, laying low to the gound on her belly, keeping a close guarding eye on her 'puppies'....they are brave enough to nuzzle under her thick billowing fur, at times.
This morning, I even found Suzy Que nibbling on her tail...Bliz just layed there and watched, contented.
It is so amazing how these brilliant children can solve equations at the age of 6; but don't know the meaning behind a hug or kiss. I am so happy that you were able to find a way to reach him!
You are amazing for wanting to teach these children, too.
I apriciat, (once the school system stopped treating Patrick like some non-human alien, and got him the education he needed) the teacher that does touch Patrick's life.
His life has been one surprise after another.
At 8 weeks he could say Momma and Dah, and knew the difference between us. He couldn't sit up on his own,but he tried to mimmic our speech paterns.
At 6 months, he was doing two word setences.
Asking for juice " Drink Pweeze?" or food "Hungwy Baby"
By the time he reached a year old, he could hold a full out conversation. "Does Patrick like this song on the radio?"
"Yes. It's fun to dance too. Can I have more juice now?"
At 2, he'd taught himself to read. His love for dynisours and anything mythical was amazing. It started one night when I pulled out his brand new book he had gotten the day before at his birthday party. It had the scientific names of all the different prehistoric beasts. I couldn't pronounce this one very hard one, and in his tiny baby voice he 'read' it to me. I nearly screamed. lol..I called in my husband, and he took Patrick in his lap, and then flipped the page. Patrick read the next words...
We had no idea he could read! Talk about clueless Parents.
Still, he did things that were odd. One single negative word ruined his entire day and he'd cry, unconsolably, for hours unend. He hated car rides and shreiked non stop. Even if we were only going around the block. I thought he got carsick or something and so gave him a dose of tylenol before each trip to help. It actually did. I late found out he gets sever headachs when in motion like that.
He hates new shoes. I have a hell of a time buying him new cloths. He has a closset full,but will hide this cruddy old dirty shirt, and when I'm not around, put it back on. Anything to scratchy, stiff, or even the slightest bit un-soft in clothing at all, and he pitches a fit, unable to controle himself. He's 11 now, and has learned some self controle,but, he still has that tenseness...wich makes it hard for some animals to understand. But, for some reason, Dragon totally relates to him. You can see they adore each other.
I know it's a bit off subject, but I fully beleive that just like there are a rare few special people who can interact and fully relate to 'special' children like Patrick, there are animals that are the same. Some will totally stiffen up and not be able to enjoy the attention these kids give them, other's not only can relate, but will actually SEEK them out among a crowd of 'normals'. Dragon is that way.
- Supporter in '08
I've never heard of your son's condition, but when you describe some of his behaviours, it sounds just like a boy I went school with. Everyone sort of knew there was something different about him, but luckily he was mostly embraced for that difference rather than excluded. I'll be thinking of Patrick and Dragon tonight, thank you so much for sharing your story.
Can't find your email, can you drop me a line? firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, Alice and melcvt00.
Alice, the Acme Pet Board? I miss that place, but..if it hadn't gone away I'd have never found THIS place.
Okay..I wrote this one the other board,but now I'll put it here, too. Simply because I dont feel like typing it all out, AGAIN.
I'm not sure what mix he is. It simply says on the adoption papers a white male guinea pig.
The woman who introduced us, was amazing, tho. She's from the Lynx board, too! Dammit, if I can't remember how to spell her name and I dont want to butcher it to harshly, so I wont.
She did ask if I'd give an update on how he is doing, tho. So, I'm keeping my word (and bragging a bit, too..hehe).
It's been a long day. Early morning mall walking, then school shoe shopping took over everything first while we waited for the shelter to open. Yes, I was stupid enough to bring ALL six kids into the shelter. Duh! I should have known better and left home the snotty teen-ager with the grumpy, sleepy, weepy, whiny toddler. But did I listen to 'me'? Nooooooooooooo.
We get there, and right away greeted then told to go on back. I asked about the guinea pigs. They were in a quiet clean room, with soft meowing kittens (We are still talking about how cute 'Fire' was!) and two small, gentle dogs.
First one seen was a tri-color short-hair named Lucky. Big nose, and really cute! His cage was eyeleval to most short people like my kids. But, I'm a sucker for a weird qwaff, and Larry captured my attention. Up high, on one of the top cages. Gargio looked like a Marine. His hair a close cropped flat top and his coat an army gray, with splotches of brown that made him look like he was in military camo! He was cute!
After filling out the application, we were lead into one of the dog rooms, with both Gargio and Larry to see wich of the two were the more submissive. I think Gargio lived up to his looks. Extremly assertive, take charge kind of guy. He went right after Larry, chattering teeth. It was easy to see that Larry was going to be the choice.(Even when he got so scared he wet himself)
Tho, if I had my way, all three would have come home with me! I think I really fell in love with Larry before I met him. From the time I saw his picture on the net, heart strings were tugged.
It turns out that Larry was one of three other piggies found as strays in some park. I dont know what happened to his sister,but two weeks ago his brother was adopted and he's been alone ever since. He's been at the shelter a month and has passed with a good bill of health. Before he left, he was checked by a Vet Assistant.
Okay..so now the update.
First, when we all got home-- I set up the baby bath tub, kitten shampoo, towels and blow dryer. Each piggy, boys and girls, got a bath one at a time. Each one was handed over to their awaiting bath-buddy who wrapped them up in towels, and snuggled them all warm till I could blow dry them. Larry hated his bath. He kept trying to jump out of the rince water, but he enjoyed the towel snuggling, very much! The other three were used to baths and tolerated them just for a warm towel snuggly session, too. Maybe Larry will see the benifit in the future. hehe Poor baby.
Then, I took Dragon and Larry over to one of the bathrooms to an empty dry bathtub for nutral territory introduction. I hoped the earlyer bath (thanks for the suggestion!) would make them each sort of smell the same to each other. Dragon right away wanted to assert his dominance. Some rumblestrutting, some muttering...and he sniffed every intimate part of Larry.
Larry tolerated it without even so much as a peep. I stayed,watching for about an hour. No teeth chattering, no angry sounds. Larry is fully compliant. So I put them in the cage together. Both have places to 'hide' if they want and each have their own bowls of food and their own drink bottles on the opposit side of the cage.
I'm watching them now..and they both seem to be fine. No chattering teeth yet, anyway. Rumble strutting from Dragon, but Larry just remains still, and lets himself be snuffed and rumbled.
A very good piggy if I don't say so myself. What a trooper!
He's been through allot in his young life.
Released in some park with two other piggies.
But he's been saved, yes saved! The Human Society took him in, and when his brother got adopted, we came along two weeks later and took him home.
But, unfortunatly, Larry and Dragon do not get along.
Floor time is fine with the boys, but in the same cage? Nope, it's not working.
So Larry and Dragon have their own 'apartments', and only seperated by a single 'wall', or a few grids.
Larry, has a nick name. It's Super Hero Larry Boy...
and today he proved he really was.
Bath time comes once a week when the cages get a magor cleaning (not spot cleaning like I do everyday).
Out comes the little pink baby bath, kitten shampoo, nail clippers, combs, towels and hair dryer. Dragon loves his bath for some reason, so does Angel. Curly Sue tolerats it well but gets this humiliated expression..
But Larry? Oh dear lord Larry wants to FLY!
It's the moment his little kicking feet hit the water he shoots out of the tub like his tiny piggy toes were springs! You think it's hard holding onto a bar of soap, try holding onto Larry when he's not in the mood. (wich is every bathtime)
Today he managed to leap out of the tup, slip through my fingers and land on a kitche chair, scramble across and almost made it to the floor if me and the kids didn't act fast to catch him.
Back in the tub and he jumps out again..and again..and again. it was like trying to bathe a 2lb kangaroo!
It was a never ending thing till he was lifted out and wrapped in a fluffy warm towel (wich he nuzzled down into the moment he could.)
I wonder if guinea pigs can glare, because sometimes I could almost swear he was glaring at me..hehe.
Poor Larry. he just wants to fly
Three Years ago today---
My family’s love for guinea pigs, sprang.
“They will be so surprised!” I had said to my husband, while handing him a slip with the directions to some hotel parking lot. “The box is in the car, with soft hay and a baby blanket.”
It was Christmas Eve, three years ago today. The night was sleeting, cold and damp, the children watching a tape of Frosty The Snow Man in the other room and we…well we were speaking in hushed whispers in an attempt to keep the magic of Christmas alive.
“Fine, fine.” He muttered. The way most husband’s mutter when sent on a task they were reluctant to do, yet inspired if not only for the love of his family and the insistent nagging of his wife.
“Be sure to thank her. Be sure to keep the lid closed when driving.” Again, I reminded him while holding his scarf and gloves. He was placing on his coat. He just gave me a quiet smirk.
“Teresa, I do have a clue.”
He took his coat and snuck out the back door.
He had more then an hour drive ahead of him. Plenty of time for me to get our children bathed, dressed for bed and prayers said. I can’t say we are exactly the Norman Rockwell kind of family,but I’m sure if the old artist had seen me, in our small bathroom, with at least four of our six kids, bundled in towels and wet hair, standing in line to get dried off, dressed and combed, he’d have been inspired for another portrait. I play the exhausted mother role quite well.
The plan was as followed. My son had only one Christmas wish. A new friend, to be his. He had lost Cosmo, his gerbil, some months before. I had decided to get him another, but as I had been looking through the internet (Long before I realized that shelters adopted out small critters too) I found an add “Free to good home. Guinea Pigs”.
So, I researched on the computer. What attracted my attention first was the longer life span and the gentle interaction they offered. This sealed it. I called the lady and we made plans. Two, she had said, was the best way to go. Disbelieving, this information. I again looked it up and found she was right. So, I agreed to take a pare of boars. Brothers . She had said she had far to many. She seemed grateful for our help. Hiding cage was a horrible mess, but under the bed seemed the best way to go. All supplies were hidden too. We were ready….or so we thought.
But, the children were tucked away. Reluctant to sleep, when Pat pulled back in the driveway. I watched out the window, while rocking the baby, the image of a bundled up man with a box held secure. A worried expression on his face. What could have gone wrong?
I placed the baby in her crib, and tip toed out to meet him in the kitchen.
“Cold out there.” He shuddered. I helped him with the box, placing it on the counter. I could feel a little movement and I was a little startled at how heavy it felt.
“She came in a pick up truck with a tarp over it. But thank god she was smart enough to keep them in the front seat.” He muttered.
“Was she kind?” I asked. I don’t know why I always ask that question when it comes to new people. I just always do.
“Yeah, she was fine. She just was wanted to get home. “ He then looked over at the box and sighed.” Do you think we have room for three?
“Three?” I asked, startled. I then opened the box. There, huddled in a corner, were three Teddy Bear Guinea Pigs. Wide eyed and terrified. Two were broken, try colored. One was orange with brown stripes.
“What happened?” I asked, looking over at him.
“She was on her way to the shelter. The orange one is the ‘Daddy’. I just…I couldn’t let her do that so I took him too.” He smiled, poked his finger in the box and said. “They’re kind of cute, for tailess rats.”
I just hugged him. I couldn’t help it! His heart , even when he grumbles, is so incredibly huge.
I felt a pair of eyes , peering around the corner. Haunting, green eyes of a child half-awake.
“Patrick, you should be sleeping!” I objected. A soft wheek came from the box.
“What’s that?” He asked, stepping closer.
His Daddy was trying to act as casual as he could “Nothing, go back to bed.”
“But I heard something. Let me see!” Patrick objected.
“Pat, let him see?” I asked my husband.
“Oh fine..go on . Take a look.” He muttered, but I was the victim of that ‘look’. You know the kind, that ‘you’re going to ruin it for him’ look.
Patrick peeked inside and gasped. “Are they ours?”
“Yup. They are.”
“Which one is mine?”
“Which one do you want?”
“That one.” He said, pointing to the smallest of the three. His voice was a shrill of excitement.
Two more pairs of eyes peered around the corner…
Each one, allowed to approach. Each child given a special friend. Each one, falling in love with tailess rats.
Each one finds room in their hearts.
"I had gotten this pig for Christmas and I dont know what to do with it."
She figured since my family and I have four piggies, I'd be able to help.
So I started giving her advice and the address to here for even more advice. I figured someone could help her. But halfway through explaining things (mostly when mentioned feeding and Vet care)...I heard her whine.
"That's just to much work for me. I can't do ALL that. Hay? In my house?! No way." and....on and on.
I asked her what she planned on doing.
God knows although I'd love another piggy. We simply couldn't afford it. Not with Pat and his new job.
She said the words I hate to hear
"I'll just take 'it' to Petco, I'm sure the petstore will take 'it' back."
So, I jumped in the car and dashed over there. She had no clue even what sex this baby was.
What I found was a cute fuzzy abby, chocolate and coramel colored in a tiny petstore cage.(My first pet, kind of thing..blah)
She looked grateful and handed it all to me.
In his little Isolation Cage (wich was his old home)
is a boar....He looks very little. A baby but I'm not sure of his age.
The Vet said he looked about 4 weeks old. Lice and mite free, good strong heart.
and..the kids are already getting attached. I'm stuck..
I like him allot too, but how fair is it to him? I keep asking myself that question. Will I be able to do him justice in the future?
Is there room for just 'one more'?
Five guinea pigs? Oh man...
Poor baby. I can't be angry at my friend. It was a gift to her ..
I think I'll just be ticked at the person who thought a living creature makes a good 'surprise' gift.
He's doing well.
Eating like crazy and at first he didn't seem to know what to do with the hay. But, across the room, sits Larry and Dragon (devider between them since they can't live together but they can't live without 'seeing' one another, either....)
This little guy (no-name for now) would wheek to them..
they'd wheek back. His wheek is so tiny it sounds like a bird...
But, He was snuggling in the hay, when he looked up to see Dragon munching and tugging on a blade of hay...
Needless to say, he tried it himself..and wha-la! It's food, too!
It's interesting to sit and just watch them.
Two more weeks and I'll see how it goes when they share floor-time (the only time the boys actually get along without a devider.) Maybe one of them will actually like him enough to allow him to be a cage mate.
For now...I guess, we need a name *grin*