SLEEPING WITH THE FISHIES

Two years ago I blogged about the new additions to our family in our new furry friends.  My youngest son wanted a dog so badly and I kept saying no to a dog because we are way too busy to be dog owners.  I  Grew up with dogs and I know how much work is involved.   A couple of years ago we were invited to a dinner party and this friend had chickens in his backyard.  They were friendly chickens and Matthew spent the whole evening chasing  bloody chickens around, holding  and petting his new feathered friends.  On the way home he kept saying he wanted a chicken as a pet.  Of course I said no to the chicken but I felt so guilty and in an emotional state I blurted out he could have a guinea pig.

The next day when I got home from work, Matthew was waiting at the front door – “mom let’s go get my guinea pig.”  Off we went to the pet shop (first mistake), went into the little cubbie hole where the guinea pigs were  kept with the boys(second mistake), listened to the sales girl tell me that we needed two guinea pigs because they are social animals and they need company while we are not home(third mistake), and then the girl continued to tell me that guinea pigs are not much work and they just eat lettuce, hay and pellets (fourth mistake).

I get to the truck to my awaiting husband, who by the way wanted nothing to do with the purchase of a guinea pig,  and as  I climb into the cab he is holding his fingers in the shape of an L and calling me a loser because I bought two guinea pigs .  He was right because when  we arrived home, set up our new furry friends  in their cage, the excitement lasted maybe  a few weeks and then my husband and I seemed to be on our own taking care of two guinea pigs.  Guinea pigs are interesting animals as they are very smart – smarter than I realized.

The one guinea pig, I’ll call the white one, wanted his hay on  a particular  side of the cage only and then he would take all of the hay out of the container and  spread all over his cage, consequently spilling out of the cage onto the rug.   Every day I would move his hay to the other side and fix the hay back neatly into the container.    The white one or, the great one, would then go and move the container back to the other side of the cage and then spread the hay all over again.    I would then come along and fix the container and  hay back in the original position.    After the third or fourth time of fighting with the great one over his hay,  he stopped looked at me (I swear he narrowed his eyes) and moved the hay container again,  only this time he backed all the way to the back of the cage and the made a mad dash and  buried himself under the hay only to come out the other side effectively exploding the  hay  all over the cage, literally exploded in my face.   He succeeded in having hay all over his cage and at the same time telling me to pound sand.  He looked at me with a look that said  “come on whatcha  gonna do about it now.”

Yep – I have two kids who can have attitude, I have a husband with attitude and for $24.99 you too can buy a guinea pig with a bad attitude.  I found myself talking to my bad ass guinea pig that day and I  said  “you keep up that attitude buddy, I’m gonna open the front door and give you your freedom, that’s right your freedom to run outside with the dogs, cats, raccoons, eagles and owls  – just keep it up and you’re a free guinea pig.”   Unfortunately,  my son heard me and went running to his father and said “dad we can’t leave mom alone with the guinea pigs, she’ll kill them!’

As time went on the dark guinea pig became ill, he somehow managed to catch an inner ear infection (very common with rodents), then he got scurvy and then mites.  My husband and I  were constantly looking after a sick guinea pig as he went from one illness to another.     So much work and not to mention the money that went out on medication to take care of a $24.99 guinea pig.  After some time and a lot of TLC, our sick guinea pig got better, not perfect but better,  and all seemed to be well with the little guys, I have to admit I was warming up to them, and then all of a sudden the great one fell ill.

Back to the vet, more medication and  more money except he didn’t survive.  The night he died his breathing became very shallow and we knew he wasn’t going to make it – my husband held that little guy on his chest and talked to him all night.    After calling me a loser for buying two guinea pigs and wanted nothing to do with them,  he loves our guinea pigs and felt so bad for the great one.

We buried him in our backyard and not even an hour after the burial the boys (all three of them) starting bugging me to buy another guinea pig.  I put my foot down, no bloody way was I buying another guinea pig – one was enough – no way.  Our surviving guinea pig went into a depression – he wouldn’t come out of his house, showed us only his butt for days, the boys and Drew were worried he was going to die and they kept pressuring me to buy him a friend.  No way, ” he’s pretty lucky, he could live in South America, I hear they eat guinea pigs there.”

Eventually with lots of love and attention he got over his depression and the little sickly guinea pig is still going strong today.  Still way too much work and not enough help from the boys and every now and then when I ask my son to clean the guinea pig’s cage and he doesn’t, I threaten Matthew and tell him he’s going to find his guinea pig sleeping with the fishies,  sends my son  running to find his dad  every time  “dad, mom is threatening to kill the guinea pig again!”

THEY CALL ME GUINEA PIG WHISPERER!

I blogged about the newest additions to our family a while back “our new furry friends”  – yes we added two Guinea Pigs to our very busy lifestyle and it was only after I purchased these two cuties did I realize that I had no idea what journey I was about to embark on with these little rodents.  When we brought the two of them home, it didn’t take me long to realize that the cage I spent $80.00 on was not going to be big enough. These little guys need room to run around.  The boys called the white one Thunder and the little multi coloured guy  Lightning.  I noticed fairly early on that Lightning peeped all the time, I thought it meant he was happy but there were times when one of us would be holding him and petting him his peeping became very loud and almost sounded agitated.  A couple of times he just jumped right off our chest crashing down onto the floor.  It was weird behaviour but not knowing how a Guinea Pig behaves I had no idea what it was other than he was a peculiar animal.  We only had them a couple of months and we went camping down the Oregon coast.  We have a trailer and instead of asking someone to look after the little guys we took them with us.  They both did pretty well travelling in the truck, we gave them lots of tlc and food.  We were camping for a couple of nights when I noticed Lightning looked completely paralalyzed.  He could only get around using his front legs and his back end was completely out of order.  We considered if maybe the trip took more out of him than we thought and then I said to my husband, “something has been off about Lightning for a long time, do you think it’s possible that he has scurvy?”  He looked at me like I was crazy, why would he have scurvy?  Guinea Pigs, like humans, do not produce vitamin C and have to get it from their food source.  They get store bought pellets that are vitamin C enriched, plus hay and twice a day I feed them fresh vegetables or fruit and make sure they get produce that has vitamin C.  Scurvy seemed unlikely but his illness seem to be on-going.  At this point Lightning was managing to get food but he could not get water, we had to hand feed him the water and he refused.  He would push the water bottle away, he would push your hand away or he would hold his head in the other direction so you couldn’t give him water.  How long without water he could last I did not know, I made sure he got lots of lettuce and cucumbers so he could hydrate that way.  Finally we decided that he was most likely going to die because he could barely lift his head and you could see how sick he was in his eyes.  I tried to make an appointment with a vet while we were in Oregon but it seemed like we couldn’t get into see anyone down there – maybe they were all surfing but they were either closed or too full to see us.  We were heading home in a few days so we just kept doing what we were doing and headed home.  The day after arriving home we headed to the Vet’s office.  He told us that Lightning either had a respiratory infection or an inner ear infection and needed anti-biotics.  I’m looking at this little Guinea Pig flopped on the table and I’m thinking “really, he’s not going to survive.”  I voiced that to the vet, I said “really look at him he will not drink water, he can’t move, he’s in a bad way and now I’m going to spend a $100.00, realistically what are his chances of getting better?”  “No offence, but Lightning cost me $24.00, I’m not spending a bunch of money to have a sick Guinea Pig.”  Of course the boys and my husband were with me looking like I was the cruelest person.  The Vet said to me “it’s not going to cost you $100.00 for the medication, more like $60.00, and this little guy is still young and he may be able to come back.”  So off we go get the antibiotics and administered the meds for two weeks, try giving a Guinea Pig something he doesn’t want – not fun.  After two weeks he seemed a little better but still not right, still unable to walk and his back legs just stuck out back and was not able to move them.  Lightning seem to take a turn for the worse and again I was sure he was going to die.  By this point the little guy had been fighting so hard we were all trying desperately for him to stay alive.  But how fair was it, he couldn’t move, spent most of his day on his back, all of his muscles seem be going lax and we had to hand feed him water and food.  I started researching on the internet and went back to my original theory that Lightning had scurvy.  Sure enough I found an article by a scientist who had studied Guinea Pigs and scurvy and there it was –  a picture of Lightning or so it seemed, back legs sticking out, muscles completely lax and unable to move.  The article went on to say that Guinea Pigs with scurvy are in constant pain and petting them can bring severe pain, I went back to when we first got him and the constant chirping like he was trying to tell us something and the couple of times he literally just jumped right out of our hands.   I was right about one thing, he was dying and now it might of been too late to do anything because his scurvy had advanced to the most serious stage.  The article also said that Guinea Pigs who received a round of Vitamin C for a couple of weeks showed vast improvement.  I thought what the hell, I went to the store, bought a $5.00 jar of vitamin C, cut the pill in fours and gave one to Lightning and one to Thunder.  Amazingly, it took a couple of weeks but very slowly Lightning started to get stronger.  First good sign was his back legs came up underneath his body and he was able to stand, not for very long and he would fall over, but for a minute he was able to stand.  Over the next couple of weeks he slowly got his strength and balance back.  The picture you see above is current, a month ago the picture would of been of him lying on his back.  He still falls over but he is one hundred percent better.  I don’t feel guilty about leaving him alive because I do feel he is getting a good quality of life, he can get around on his own, get his own water, his own food.  Life is good.  Pictured below is the big cage we built for the two of them, I call it Piggie condo because it has a section that has three stories – they are much happier now..