My devotion to cavies began with Precious Pup, a tri-color Peruvian boar, that I bought
from a pet store when I was 13 yrs. old. He never had a cage. I kept him in a cardboard
box with torn up newspapers that I just tossed out and replaced as needed. He was
motivated to try to jump out of the box when my brother got a sow. He found he could
jump out of boxes that were as tall as 30 inches high, so he was only in his box when he
wanted to be. I would wake up each morning to find Precious in my bed. Often, he would
be trimming my bangs. Haircuts were not the only favors he bestowed upon me while I
was asleep, but let´s not mention the "little gifts" he would leave in my bed. If I had a late
night, he would be waiting for me at the top of the stairs when I walked in the door and
would greet me with loud wheeks. Then, just in case my parents hadn´t woken up and
noticed how late I was getting in, he would run into their bedroom and hide under their
bed and wheek until I crawled in after him. One time I decided not to play his game and
went straight to bed without chasing him. The little devil ran into the hallway and kept
wheeking until I gave in and chased him--under my parents bed as usual! Precious Pup
lived 6 years. He was quite a pig. I still get wistfully weepy thinking about him and he´s
been gone almost 30 years.
JANET AND PENNY
Janet and her sister, Penny, came to us sight unseen from Columbus, Ohio. I worked for
an agency that has offices all over the U.S. and the head of the Columbus office offered
me two guinea pig babies free of charge. Fond memories of Precious Pup prompted me to
agree to give them a good home. My boss, who is terrified of "rodents" (ouch) agreed to
pick them up while home for Christmas and to bring them back to Michigan. My plan was
to give them to my daughter for Christmas. (Kinda like a dad "gives" his son a train.) I
also thought she might like to join 4H and, since we lived in an apartment, our animal
choices were limited. When I brought my daughter into work to pick up the pigs, she had
no idea what to expect. I have to say that she was just lukewarm about the idea once she
saw "the girls", although I thought the girls were adorable. They were about 7 weeks old
and looked almost identical -- two little red American sows. They were so sweet that I had
to keep one for myself! My daughter got to pick which pig she wanted for her very own and
named her pig, Janet Planet. I was left with Janet´s sister who absolutely had the prettiest
piggy face I had ever seen and named her Penny because of her coat. Imagine our
surprise a few weeks later when JANET--not Penny--developed a coin-sized spot between
her shoulders that truly shined like a new penny!
"WE HAVE A TREASURE AND DON´T KNOW IT!"
Janet and Penny are now growing into beautiful young lady piggies, but they look less alike
with each passing day. Soon Janet´s entire coat shines like a brand new penny and it feels
very, very soft. Penny´s coat doesn´t take on any extra sheen and it is lightening up. She is
looking less red and more golden.
My daughter and I start going to monthly 4H meetings. The guinea pig program is called
"Pocket Pets". We are the only ones in the club in this program. The Rabbit Club people
take us under their wing.
The "girls" are so much fun! They love floor time and popcorning is one of their favorite
activities. We make a little obstacle course for them and they go back and forth and back
and forth through the course. They are so joyful that it is contagious just from watching
Janet is the alpha pig and she is quite composed and calm when handled. She likes
attention. In contrast, Penny is so devoted to her sister that she does not ever really bond
with us--she merely tolerates us although she loves to be petted. Holding her is another
story. Penny shivers almost imperceptively whenever held. We hold her anyway. Penny
figures out that she will be put down when she wets on us. Penny Peepants becomes her
The Rabbit Club leader recommends we go to The Barry County (Michigan) 4H Rabbit and
Cavy Show to observe the activities. We all go to the show. As soon as the members of the
Barry County 4H Cavy Club see Janet, they start insisting that we enter her in the show.
We learn that Janet is a "Satin" which is relatively rare. One girl chokes back tears when
telling us how much Janet reminds her of her deceased Satin cavy. She insists on giving
my daughter the required white lab coat to wear for the event. Her 4H cavy leader
volunteers to tag Janet´s ear--for free! The question now is whether or not I have the
entrance fee. I do--if we forget about eating lunch! One of the judges weighs Janet
because she is barely six months old and we are hoping she makes senior weight. She
Janet is the only Satin in the show. She wins Best of Breed. (Not a surprise.) The judge
calls people over to look at her "excellent" sheen. A cream American boar wins Best In
If your piggie wins Best of Breed (BOB), then you must wait for all the breeds to be judged
for the Best in Show judging. It can be a long wait. It can be a good time, though, because
you can look at all the different breeds as they are being judged. You can meet lots of
other gp lovers, too. If you aren´t careful, you will end up coming home with more guinea
pigs. We brought Sean, our Peruvian, home from this--our very first--show.
But, that is another story...
How do you know that a day is going to be momentous? It is easy in retrospect, but upon
waking up to a new day, you only know that it has promise.
The day that Sean came into our life did have promise. We woke up knowing that we
would be going to a rabbit and cavy show. We had never been to one and we weren´t even
sure if we could find its location since it was being held in a remote area that was
unfamiliar territory to us.
I have already described the marvelous events of the show such as finding out our Janet
was a prize-winning Satin and meeting such wonderfully kind cavy-minded people. What I
haven´t done is describe what it was like to meet Sean for the first time...
Well, to begin with, I almost didn´t meet Sean at all. In fact, I spent most of the afternoon
trying to avoid him. You see, a high school senior in her last few months of 4H was trying
to find a home for a young Peruvian boar with a feature that meant he was not show
quality. The little guy was red--all red--except for three toes on his left front foot being
Somehow the girl and my daughter connected and my daughter was offered the little boar.
My daughter, who was snuggling the little guy and followed by his owner, came up to me
saying, "Mom, look he is only $5! Can we have him, please?" His owner explained that he
was just $5 because she was getting out of 4H and breeding and wanted to find a good
home for him. She also said that he was not show quality due to his foot fault although he
was breeder quality.
I´m thinking, ´What good does breeder quality do when I don´t have a Peruvian sow? If I
get any boar, it should be one that we can breed with Janet (who was an American satin).´
So, I waved them both off with a quick, "No, thanks, we don´t need a Peruvian boar."
But, I was gently hounded all afternoon long by my daughter. You have to know her to
appreciate what I mean. She knows that my personality won´t give aggressive whining and
begging the time of day. She has the "soft sell" down pat and she knows how to work it.
So, eventually, I agreed to at least look at the boar. I picked up the little guy and he
immediately scrambled for the "safe spot" under my chin. I caught my breath in surprise
and then I held it in amazement. I shut my eyes and exhaled as I opened my mind up to
the possibility of taking this little guy home. Then I breathed in that unique Peruvian
guinea pig smell. I was being transported back in time to those days when Precious Pup
was alive and I was a kid. It was magic. Sean was magic. In that moment, he became a
part of our family and we became a part of his.
*** SHELBY, SEAN´S SOULMATE ***
We found Shelby at a pet store and reserved her because she had not yet been weaned.
Okay, maybe we shouldn´t support sales from pet stores, but you try leaving a darling little
baby to an uncertain future!
Well, Shelby was a very plebian pig compared to prize-winning Janet and her sister, Penny.
Her pointy nose just didn´t measure up to the patrician Roman noses that the sisters had.
She had really big feet, too. Beyond her looks, her behavior was common. She ate just
about anything while the sisters were picky eaters. Worst of all, Shelby would dig. (Gasp!)
No matter that Shelby had the survival instincts that had been bred out of Janet and
Penny. I mean, if food pellets spilled out of the sisters´ dish, they couldn´t find them! Their
noses might have been the perfect Roman shape, but they didn´t work.
Shelby is a tortoise shell and white American and she is beautiful. In spite of her
"common" behavior, she must have some fancy genes, too, because her color patches
were very well balanced and met, as prescribed, along her spine. Only a patch of red on
her shoulder that blended into black rather than being well-defined violated the ts&w rules.
(Unfortunately, now that she is an old lady pig, her color patches are now sprinkled with
Janet and Penny were just plain vicious when Shelby was introduced. Janet was the alpha
pig, but she rarely had to do her own fighting because Penny was her "hit pig" as well as
her devoted handmaiden. So, Shelby had to have her own digs which happened to sit on
top of the sisters´ pen and next to Sean´s home.
Well, it wasn´t long before we started waking up to finding Shelby in with Sean, our
Peruvian. Unlike the girls, Sean had welcomed Shelby and I mean beyond being interested
in her because she was a sow. During floor time, the girls continued to be vicious, so
Shelby would run and hide behind Sean. He would defend her which was very surprising
because Sean is truly a lover not a fighter! Eventually we gave up and let Shelby move in
permanently with Sean.
Of course we expected that eventually Shelby would be expecting. Nothing ever happened.
I woke up to a big ruckus one night and became a piggy passion voyeur. Sean was
crouched into a corner and hiding under the water bottle. Shelby was in the center of the
pen with her back to Sean and really cussing him out. A closer look and it was obvious that
Shelby was in heat and presenting herself to Sean. After a bit more cussing from Shelby,
Sean crept out of the corner. He made a few halfhearted attempts to get a grip on Shelby´s
neck, but he didn´t want to bite her. Eventually, he mounted Shelby, but his front paws
were only on the edge of Shelby´s hips. I´m thinking, ´Maybe the theory that males
overestimate size is true.´ Sure enough, Sean begins making some unmistakable
movements as if to prove my point. At which time, Shelby turns around and lets Sean
have it. She is one very unfulfilled pig! Sean retreats to his corner and things are back
where I came in. I go to bed thinking we will never have baby guinea pigs if Sean has
anything to do with it.
Well, Shelby grew up to become a very sweet pig who adores Sean and my daughter. She
eventually got big enough to turn the tables on the sisters. We saw it happen. Shelby
literally leaped--big feet first--about 15 inches right onto Penny´s head. The Karate Pig.
Shelby never had any trouble with the sisters after that. In fact, they always ran in terror
Shelby and Sean must have contacted Dr. Ruth one day while we were out because they
eventually became the parents of two sows, Greta and Sheridan, and one boar, Zachary.
Sean really gripes when he hears me get up and yet I fail to bring his wife or one of his
daughters in to visit him (one not in season, of course). Usually, he just makes a lot of
noise ending in a crescendo of wheeks.
This morning, though, he came up with a new way of protesting his solitary confinement.
He started picking up big pieces of bedding, chips really, and running them along the bars
of his cage so that they made noise. If you have seen those old movies with the prisoner
banging his cup on the bars of his cell, you will get the picture.
This was not an isolated incident either. He must have done it at least six times. He would
run the chip up and down the bars, drop it, and then pick up another one to do it all over
Last summer, we made plans to camp at our favorite beach located in some of the lovely
sand dunes along Lake Michigan.
Just 10 days before we were due to go on vacation, we found out that "The Kid" was
supposed to be at band camp that week. (Being an incoming freshman, no one had
bothered to tell her that band camp is always held the first week of August.) No
matter--the pigs and I decided to go on vacation alone with "The Kid" arriving later for the
weekend along with my sisters.
We camped in the "rustic" area of the campground. However, before you get too
impressed, we camped in one of the little cabins that had built-in beds and electricity. But,
hey, we didn´t have running water and we had to use the communal "Port-a-potty"!
The beginning of the week was lovely. I enjoyed my solitude along with the wind and the
waves. I did lots of reading. I also found plenty of friendly people to chat with when I was
in the mood. The pigs kept me good company. too. (They generally go on vacation with us
because of Sean needing so much special attention.)
Mid-week the previously empty neighboring campsite was taken over by a group of four
young men. They started out neighborly enough. However, they did seem particularly fond
of their cars and even circled them--much like a wagon train--around their fire pit rather
than parking just off the road like everyone else. Their site was like most--it was meant for
tents and campers and just had a picnic table and a fire pit.
They even seemed very nice when they came over to ask if they could use my extension
cord--and my electricity--to recharge their cd player.
However, right away, I noticed that they had this habit of locking their cars--with a remote
entry system which went beep-beep--and then unlocking it again (another beep-beep) 10
to 15 minutes later. They were sitting right outside their cars! Why did they have to do
this over and over all night long? My daughter says it was a "guy thing". You know a
remote in the hands of a guy unsupervised and uncontained by a sensible person (i.e., a
Things got progressively worse. They stayed up the second night drinking. It was not a
pretty sight. They used this hose and funnel contraption that I understand is very popular
with young people. Hey, I am a nightowl myself. You guys know that. But, imagine how
"you-know-what faced" they got by 3 a.m.!
The third day was worse yet. The young men had come from Illinois and planned to
finance their camping trip by turning in beverage cans for the deposit refund. There was
only one problem with that plan. They had pop and beer cans from Illinois. There was no
deposit ever paid to purchase beverage in those cans, so there was no refund due them!
Like a lot of thieves, they were stupid, too. They went to the little grocery store in town
where they were required to turn the cans in to a real person in order to get the refund. Of
course, she turned them away. If they had merely gone to the larger, nearby town, they
could have fed the cans into an automatic counter and received a "refund". I had to listen
to them "bitching" about it all day and night long. (And "all night long" was a good
description of their behavior. They slept in late and partied all night long.) Of course, I
could have helped them cheat the beverage refund system, but I was hoping that when
they ran out of money, they would leave. No such luck.
Well, because they were bored with very little beer to drink and nothing else to do, they
spent the fourth day digging up their camp site--actually digging up the sand
dune--making a giant hole to nowhere. "Someone´ reported them and they had to fill in
I came back from the beach at lunch time on the fifth day to find a big hole dug around my
grill. You see my grill was attached by wire to a big hunk of cement covered over by the
sand--to discourage people from running off with it. However, the top of the grill was
vulnerable because it had to be movable in order to adjust the height of the cooking
surface. It was gone. Gee, there was a grill top over on "the boy´s" site that looked just
like it. It was sitting on top of an 8-foot long log that they were using to cook with since
they couldn´t afford to buy firewood or charcoal. It was a green log, btw. It didn´t do much
other than smoke. The shame is that, even at this point, I would have let them use the
grill to cook with if they had only asked. I let my neighbor on the other side use it twice.
(And, only the prior day, I had given them peaches and root beer because I knew they
were so short of funds.) Instead, I turned them in for taking the grill top.
That night was the worst. It had rained quite hard during the afternoon. "The boys" came
back from God knows where and pulled their cars around their campfire as usual. Then, at
1:30 a.m., they decided that they just HAD to move their cars--right then! Well, remember
that they had dug up their campsite? That plus the rain made for a very soft surface. One
car got stuck in the sand. Imagine the sound of drunk/high guys shouting advice to one
another over the sound of a revving engine just outside your door at that time of night.
Finally, a neighbor came over and helped them rock and push the car out of the sand. And,
what did they do once they got the car free? They parked it. Yeah, big emergency.
So, the next morning, I woke up to these guys sleeping in as usual. All was finally quiet as
I walked out onto the porch of my cabin. The tire marks in the sand from the stuck car
revealed that it had come within 1-1/2 feet on my cabin! What idiots!
With a sigh, I went about my morning routine which, of course, included taking care of the
pigs. I took Sean out onto the porch to "dive for doodoo" so that he could start the day
without any poo stuck in his bum. As I pulled the little treasure from its hiding place, it hit
me--right in the nose--just how aromatic that little piece of poo was. Hmmmm. Hmmmm.
Yes, hmmmm. Would it work? Yes, even in the outdoors, the smell was quite strong.
Would they figure it out? No, it matched the soil and sand exactly. Could I do it? Well, that
was the question. It is kinda of tricky hefting a tiny piece of soft poo very accurately. I said
a prayer and let the poo fly. It landed in the middle of their campsite right under
theirpicnic table! Score! Touchdown! Yahoo!!!
I was there when my sweet neighbors finally woke up. I was hoping that they would notice
Sean´s little gift. I was not disappointed. They noticed the smell all right. I heard them
saying, "Gawd, what the he** is that smell?" Then they said, "What IS it? It smells just
like sh*t!" They started tossing their bed rolls and dirty clothes around trying to figure out
what it was. When they couldn´t find anything, they started to get frustrated. Then they
got mad. They started accusing one another of sh*tting somewhere in the campsite. The
poor guy whose bedding happened to be closest to Sean´s precious gift had it torn apart.
He and another guy almost came to blows over the smell. The other guy was sure that this
poor young man was to blame. I almost felt sorry for them.
No, I didn´t.
They left that morning.
The story put you within inches of sainthood. And your final action assured you of it.
my2piggies I love that story, I remember reading it on CG but it still makes me laugh. It is a classic.
I think we are going to have to examine the audience here (can you imagine kids getting guinea pigs for the wrong reasons????
Okay, I´m watching the History Channel right now...
After a long and happy life, Shelby, our tortoiseshell and white guinea pig, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Shelby had gone steadily downhill in health in recent months due to old age. On Saturday, we had to be brave and love Shelby enough to let her go.
Shelby was preceded in death by her husband, Sean, and her son, Zachary, and daughter, Greta.
She is survived by her daughter, Sheridan.