It all started on New Year's Day 2003. I had been in Bahrain for 2 months and I was ready to get another guinea pig (Pumpkin, my first, had passed away in 1999). As this was still my pre-GL unenlightened phase, my husband and I paid a visit to the local pet store.
PETIT & FILOUS - DOUBLE TROUBLE
The pet store had a group of young piggies kept in very iffy conditions--bad food, aquarium cage, the usual. I wanted a pair (same sex, of course) because we were both working and that would be unfair to a lone piggy. Petit immediately stood out with her hefty figure and classic good looks so I picked her. My husband, always one to root for the underdog, chose Filous because her soulful eyes radiated one thing: cunning. And boy was he right!
Petit & Filous moved into their spacious pen in our hallway. The fighting began almost immediately--Filous picked on Petit constantly, rumblestrutting and giving her the odd nip. Petit put up with it most of the time but occasionally she would wheek for help and we would take her out for a breather. Lots of floortime and laptime diffused the situation--up to a point.
On Valentine's Day 2003 (thankfully a public holiday) we noticed that Petit looked unwell. Upon examining her we discovered that she had diarrhea. Petit, with her voracious appetite, had eaten Filous' and her own ration of iceberg lettuce (which I have never fed since). Faced with this emergency situation, I found GL and followed the recommendations. We rushed to the vet and then we forcefed Petit every 2-3 hours for 3 days. Poor Petit was very cooperative and so exhausted that she fell asleep in my lap after the feedings. She recovered beautifully. When she returned to the pen Filous was nice to her--for a couple of days.
Filous started to hump Petit soon after that. I totally freaked out when I saw Filous in action--I thought that we had mis-sexed her and called my husband in a panic. A good calm reading of GL sorted me out. However one night the humping got so vicious that we temporarily separated the girls by dividing their pen in two using bricks and books. Petit was very agitated and proceeded to launch herself like a pole vaulter (minus the pole) across the "wall". She didn't quite make it across though--it was the cutest thing watching her hang on to dear life (well, not quite--she was an inch from the ground) with her itty bitty arms. My husband and I went to bed and thought that was that. However in the morning we found Filous snuggled up with Petit--the cunning and ultra-determined one had pushed and squeezed herself across to Petit's side. Filous behaved herself for a while.
Filous was up to no good again a few months after that. My husband and I went away for the weekend and came back to find the piggie pen slightly ajar, Petit scurrying back in with a "It wasn't my fault!" look on her face and Filous hiding out under our bed. When we tried to catch her she ran like lightning into our guest bedroom and staked it out for a good half hour or so under the guest bed.
The tales of Petit & Filous' exploits travelled far and wide (thanks to my big mouth) and over the next 2 years we had plenty of visitors (mostly my friends and colleagues and their kids) coming in to see the pigs. Petit & Filous relished the attention and never bit anyone. Petit is the shy one, very cautious and preferring to stay out of trouble. Filous is the brains of the duo, bold and adventurous. She also has a weak bladder and lets me know she needs to go during laptime by nibbling my lips. What a darling!
Those were some good times with our naughty girls. More to come on the arrival of Pate, Brulee & Marcel!!!
When Pate, Brulee & Marcel came along we thought we'd continue the French food theme. Marcel, the only non-foody named pig, is named after a famous French soccer player whose last name I forget.
The animal sanctuary's in house vet has received their full medical history. So far so good. [Sigh]
We left our apartment and moved into a house in the summer of 2004. Petit & Filous had luxury accommodation in the cove under our staircase. Their pen was now the size of a queen size bed.
Pate, Brulee & Marcel entered our lives totally by accident. By now, I no longer patronised pet stores (hay and pellet supplies were ordered from Oxbow) so I stayed away from temptation. Also, the SPCA here rarely, if ever, had guinea pigs so adopting was problematic.
One night, as my husband and I were driving down a major road running errands, he received a long-distance phone call from his dad. He decided to stop the car to take the call and, lo and behold, we were right outside the pet store that Petit & Filous came from. My husband suggested that I pop into the pet store for a couple of minutes, which I did and of course guess what I saw--a mommy pig (Pate) and her 2 1-week old babies (Brulee & Marcel). The aquarium cage was downright filthy and contained cockroaches, the water bowl had tipped over and there was no food. I watched as poor Pate nipped Brulee & Marcel when they tried to suckle--there was no milk. The shop assistant said that there was a third baby that had died. My brain started saying things and I couldn't sleep that night. I remember staring at the ceiling planning out the logistics of where to quarantine them, what extra supplies I would need, etc.
I decided to take unilateral action the next day. I left work early (my boss was fully supportive but thinks I'm bonkers anyway) and bought Pate and forced them to give me Brulee & Marcel for free. My husband was concerned about the additional responsibility but he didn't grumble too much because of their desperate situation. Pate, Brulee & Marcel moved into their temporary quarters in the guest toilet. Thankfully they all had great appetites and Pate let her kids suckle away. Quarantine went by very smoothly.
Around this time I discovered that Filous had an eye wound (poked by hay perhaps) and I had to administer antibiotic eyedrops and eyegel (presribed by the vet of course) every 4 hours for 2 weeks. Her eye has healed but it still looks different from the uninjured eye.
Pate & Brulee moved in with Petit & Filous and they became fast friends. Brulee and Filous would hang out a lot and loved exploring together during floortime. Pate and Petit hit it off and loved grooming each other. I found that Filous' erratic behaviour toned down a lot--now her humpfests were reserved for the first week of every month.
ME, MYSELF & I - MARCEL'S QUARANTINE
Marcel remained in the guest toilet which wasn't too far away from the girls' area. I tried to take his mind off his loneliness by sitting with him every day and extra laptime. When I sat with him in the toilet he would jump onto my lap and then jump off to popcorn away. During laptime he would get very comfortable and if he needed to go he would race up my neck and burrow in my hair. I also treated him to special floortime meaning hanging out in the carpeted areas upstairs (the den, our bedrooms, etc). He would go absolutely mad with popcorning and loved to be chased. However, into the fourth month Marcel was losing his patience and he broke out of his pen twice. Thankfully on both occasions I spotted him before he could do any damage. I remember the first time, I saw him scurrying across the floor towards the girls and I did a double take. The second time, he actually broke into the girls' pen and settled into one of the girls' pigloos. The time had come to set him free...
Marcel's neutering went without a hitch and amazingly when he got back from the vet's he acted as if nothing happened. I was SO relieved! He healed cleanly, his appetite was unabated and he was his chirpy sociable self, always coming up for a cuddle.
On the introduction day I was expecting trouble between Filous and Marcel, which unfortunately materialised. They were rumblestrutting at each other continuously and Filous looked poised to bite his head off. On day 2 Filous and Marcel had their showdown and they were clenched like the vicious ball of fur so often described. Amazingly no blood was drawn and Marcel realised his place in the pecking order--right behind Filous. They are a happy crew, with Brulee & Marcel tagging along Filous and Petit & Pate content to do their own quiet thing. Funnily enough despite remaining no. 2 in the pack, Marcel assumes the coveted position of humper during the first week of each month.
I get piggy updates around once a week. They're doing great and eating like there's no tomorrow!
In my current bored state, I've managed to formulate their housing arrangement in london--they are going to live on a large, plastic picnic table with grids as a fence. All their hay and other luggage will go under the table. I can't wait!!!