...But don't worry, it's not that kind of asylum (although a few people I know would probably say I belong in a straight-jacket).
Now, it's time to meet the residents, both past and present:
Damien (aka Big D, Big Man, Dr. Snuggles)
Smart, mischievous and brave, Damien was the very definition of an alpha male. He pretty much did what he liked, because he knew nothing bad would happen to him if he did. If I tried to tell him off for nibbling the furniture, he would just look at me as if to say "what are you going to do about it?" then carry on.
He was a good daddy boar to Pippin, and then Gingernut, and treated them firmly but fairly. During floor time, he would follow Pippin around the living room to make sure he didn't get into any trouble. I used to put the carry case on the floor so they could use it for wees. When Damien was tired, he would shepard Pippin into the case and then lie down in front of him so he could have a rest and keep an eye on Pippin at the same time.
He loved his fuss, and would often stretch out to his full length so my mother, my sister and I could all stroke him at the same time.
Pippin (aka The Pipster, Little Man)
Damien's first friend, and his wing man in mischief. Together, they would stink up the carpet and nibble the tassels on the sofa, in between nose offs and the odd scuffle.
Pippin was the only pig I knew who willingly gave piggy kisses. If he was in a good mood, I got lots of piggy kisses. If he was feeling shy, I got one piggy kiss. If he was in a bad mood, I got no piggy kisses, and he would turn his head away.
Unfortunately, his short life was marred by illness. I hope that for what little time I had him, he knew he was loved.
Gingernut (aka Nutster, Nutman)
The notes on Gingernut's adoption form said he was "friendly" and "likes other guinea pigs", both of which were an understatement. Quite simply put, Gingernut did not have a single bad bone in his body. He was gentle, sweet and kind, but more than that, he was considerate towards pigs and people alike.
When he was introduced to Damien for the first time, there was no rumblestrutting, or teeth chattering, or fighting. He just ran up to Damien, squeaking with excitement, and started sniffing him. Damien half-hearted rumbled at him until he realised Gingernut wasn't interested in being the boss, he was just happy to see another pig.
When Maisie nipped at him because she had never been with other guinea pigs before, Gingernut didn't retaliate. He just backed off and gave her space.
He was also a big baby, and loved to be cuddled and held. He also liked to watch M*A*S*H.
Maisie (aka Miss Maisie, Maisie Moo)
Quite possibly the world's most beautiful sow (in her opinion, anyway), Maisie used her good looks and own unique brand of charm to wrap anyone who met her round her little paw. Both Gingernut, and then Wilbur, were hers to bend to her whims, and if they disobeyed, they got peed on.
She loved head scratches, and chin scratches, and cheek scratches, all at the same time, and whenever she met anyone new she would look up at them with a big smile on her face as if to say "hello, I'm Maisie. Who are you and what have you got that I can have?"
Wilbur (aka Wilbur Schmilbur, Wilbs)
Sensible and calm, Wilbur is my go-to comfort pig, which is strange because he doesn't seem to love fuss as much as say, Damien or Gingernut did. There's just something about his demeanor that I find relaxing when I hold him.
Wilbur is very much his own pig, and needs his personal space. He can't seem to be without Albert, but yet he can't live in the same cage as him either, so they live side by side, in a divided 4x3 C&C cage.
Most likely to be found lounging in his cage rolling his eyes at whatever silliness Albert is currently up to.
Albert (aka Little Albert, Baby Albert)
All the way from South Wales and weighing it at around 1400g, Albert really isn't little at all, but his adoption photo was taken next to what is quite possibly the world's biggest bowl and made him look tiny in comparison, so the name kind of stuck.
"Doing the Albert" has now become a euphemism for having sex, usually in inappropriate circumstances, since Albert, er, "did the Albert" with a cardboard tube, whilst Wilbur looked on in disdain. Suffice to say, that particular tube ended up in Albert's half of the cage.
Also famous for sitting in a raspberry, and generally being as daft as a brush.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my little introduction.
Wilbur wants to say "thank you" for all the nice comments.
I took the above photo today. Wilbur was enjoying a nice, long fuss on the sofa, sat on his special towel. He was all plumped out and relaxed, which made me very happy. It was nice to see him so content, especially since he's had a rubbish time with ringworm recently. He had two bald spots on his back, but after three weeks of treatment the fur seems to be growing back now, although I'm still keeping an eye on it. Luckily, Wilbur is very laid back and doesn't mind being examined.
Sometimes I find it difficult to read Wilbur as he isn't as vocal as some of the other pigs I've had. Because of this, I worry about his happiness more than I did with my other pigs. He makes little pottering sounds when he's exploring (very cute!), and he rumbles and chatters at Albert sometimes (not so cute), but he doesn't make any noise when he's being stroked or held. He will settle down for his fuss though, so he must enjoy it. Sometimes he vibrates gently. At first, I was worried that this meant he was unhappy or scared, but he seems to do this when he's pancaked out and relaxed, so maybe it's a comfort thing?
(By the way, I will post a chronological account of my life with my pigs at some point, but I have eight years to get through so please bear with me!)
Wilbur: Speak for yourself...
Later, Wilbur decided to eat some of Albert's hay as "compensation".
"Nom nom nom."
Unfortunately for Wilbur, Albert decided he wasn't going to put up with someone else eating his hay any longer.
“Let’s get a guinea pig,” I said.
Now, I know that was The Wrong Thing To Do for a multitude of reasons, but at the time I had no idea that you could adopt guinea pigs. I thought that was only for cats and dogs. After some persuading from me and my sister, my mother relented. It didn’t take much persuading, however, as my mum loves animals as much as I do and had posed the idea of getting guinea pigs in the past.
There were lots of baby guinea pigs running about in the enclosures in the middle of the shop. I wanted a black pig, but my sister spotted a pale beige and white coloured guinea pig with pinky red eyes. Later, we would find out that this pale beige colour was in fact referred to as “lilac”.
When the shop assistant went to pick the guinea pig up so we could take a look at him, the rabbits surrounded him, as though they were trying to protect him. As this pig had red eyes, and as I had seen The Omen only nights before, there was really only one name in the running.
So, we took Damien home along with a crappy wooden hutch. I really am ashamed at how little I knew then, and I really hope Damien didn’t suffer as a result. As my mum set up the hutch, my sister took Damien out of his cardboard carry box and sat him on her knee, where he promptly peed.
Judging by his size, he was about three months old when we bought him, and I didn’t think he would get any bigger. Boy, how wrong I was. He wasn’t known as “Big D” for nothing. By the time he was an adult, he was long enough that three people could stroke him at once; one working his head, one massaging his shoulders, and another stroking his back. He would often stretch out specifically so we could do this.
Like most guinea pigs, he was very timid at first. This didn’t last long, and he soon lived up to his name.
Now, I know what you're thinking. How could a pig with such a sweet face possibly get up to any wrongdoing?
Don't let that face fool you. Damien was a very smart and very brave pig, but was also very mischievous. He loved to be naughty for the sake of it, possibly because he was so smart and so brave, and knew he could get away with it.
During floor time, he would often chew at the tassels on the bottom of the sofa, or nibble at the wooden futon chair. I would try and tell him off, by saying “Damien, no!” in a stern voice, but he would just look up at me as if to say “what are you going to do about it?” and carry on with his mischief. Often, the only way to stop him nibbling was to put my hand in between his teeth and whatever it was he was trying to get at. Even then, he would try and push my hand aside.
The best example of how smart and naughty he was came one day when he was out in the living room. My mum and I were sat on the floor keeping an eye on him, because we knew he loved to sit under the futon, where he would pee and poop ‘til his heart’s content. It was one of the many “boar dens” he had round the living room. My mum had blocked what she believed to be every entrance to the futon, but she had missed one tiny gap, and Damien was determined.
He started off by sitting in the middle of the floor, washing. Later we would realize this was to throw us off our guard. Then, without warning, he bolted towards the tiny gap and before we could react, had wriggled his way under the futon. There he sat, flab spread out with his dewlap resting on his front paws, with a smug expression on his face. And there was nothing we could do about it. After a minute or two, he emerged from the futon, and trotted back into his hutch, as if to say “see, I can do what I like”.
Damien was a bachelor pig for just over two years. And then, he met Pippin.
All your pigs are cute as hell, especially gingernut.