To this day I cannot figure out what colour he was. People referred to him as “lilac,” “buff,” ”gold,” “cream,” “orange,” “beige” and “light brown.” You figure it out. He also had ruby eyes, which took a little getting used to, I guess because of all kinds of albino jokes I had heard in high school and college. But in the right light, his fur shone like gold. He was also what one vet referred to as “a sweet pig,” which sounds kind of funny, as a lot of people do not put “sweet” and “pig” together.
Lightning came to live with me on April 6, 2003. It was during cherry blossom time in Washington. My last fish had died, my building doesn’t allow any more dogs and my condo isn’t properly set up for a cat. Birds make too much racket, and from what I had heard about bunnies and ferrets I didn’t want one. Rats and mice tend to have a shorter life span and I wanted a pet I would have for a while. I found Lightning through the Guinea Pig Adoption Network, www.gpan.net. He came from a family in Prince William County, Virginia that had several other pets, and his teenage owner had too little time for him. They were giving him away – cage, food, toys and everything –- such a deal!
I drove past the cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin to Arlington to pick him up. Lightning had had the privilege of being spoiled rotten by three children and two adults, which was good for both of us he was not afraid of anything or anyone. His young owner surrendered him in a Rubbermaid container and we packed as much of his stuff as we could into my Grand Am. Lightning was such a good traveler he fell asleep in the car – I thought I had been given a sick pig. I set the little guy up in his cage and went down the street for a soft drink and to think about what I had done. I e-mailed his former owner’s mom from the café with the subject line “We made it!”
This picture appeared in the 2005 "Pets of Alexandria" calendar: http://www.cerridwin.org/jane/pig2.jpg
This is one of the first of the two of them together. It will appear in the 2006 calendar: http://www.cerridwin.org/jane/2pigs.jpg
These pigs have been with me everywhere -- to work, shopping, on errands, to crime scenes. No, I didn't go looking for crimes in progress -- we just happened to be there. In one case the murder had happened about seven years before that. Lightning saw a presidential motorcade. Actually he didn't SEE it -- he was in his carrier in my car but the motorcade drove by. At least I think the president was in there. They were also an incredible comfort to me through my career ups and downs (mostly downs), broken and shakily repaired romances and my father and grandmother's final illnesses and deaths. Pippin/Thunder seems to shed least of the three, or at least his hair is the least visible on my clothing. Minutes before the robbery in 2003 I picked Lightning up and hugged him goodbye. His fur was all over the front of my dress. I can imagine the police report if the robber had actually murdered me as he had threatened: "the body was found in a red wool dress covered with pig fur."
Here is a closeup from the same picture:
Here he is with his mate, Thunder, now Pippin. This picture is in the 2006 Pets of Alexandria Calendar.
This is kind of lousy day for me with the snow and Pandora's getting over her spay.
Lightning died six days before we buried my father's ashes. I was depressed. Thunder was depressed, or it was at least what I projected onto him.
So on March 4, 2005, Baby Pandora came to live with us: