You may well remember (or not) the excitement that occurred when Max and Phoebe came into our lives. I do, but I certainly didn’t give very regular updates of our life with guinea pigs after that, did I?
Well, sit down. Make yourself comfortable. This is a long one!
Phoebe, our matriarch guinea pig out for a cruise
Phoebe, bless her little heart, is probably the most timid GP I have ever met (and I’ve met a few now!). I think know that in her previous home she has been traumatized as she is immensely fearful of everything. Even food. And that is most definitely NOT a guinea pig trait. Rather, guinea pigs adore food and will “wheek” and “popcorn” when they know it’s coming. But not Phoebe. 😦
As Phoebe was *so* afraid at that time, we decided not to get her a companion for awhile. Instead we allowed her to settle in and get accustomed to us and her new surroundings.
Our completely lovable guinea pig, Max
Max, though? He was the opposite of Pheebs. Max was the definitive Mr. Personality! He was a very demonstrative pig and it soon became obvious he was a showboat and drama queen rolled into one. For example, our GP nail clippers have a slight squeak to them, so he quickly learned to associate that sound with having his nails trimmed. I kid you not, he would scream and nearly faint if he heard it — and that was before we’d even picked him up!
Since Max was so happy go lucky, we did think that he’d like a buddy and so we purchased (I know, I know!) Pippin. Pippin resembled a very adorable, very woolly, little lamb. He was about the size of a pickle and was ever so sweet looking.
Pip, our "Diablo" woolly guinea pig
Max and Pip seemed to tolerate one another once they sorted out the pecking order. Pip certainly wanted to “hang” with Max, but Max always remained aloof and if Pip “hung” too long, Max would nip at him.
Unfortunately, Max was not without his own trauma. When we got him, his feet had great yellow scabs, remnants of bumblefoot from being left in a wet cage (we surmise) and the scabs never did completely clear up. He also caught colds frequently, which required antibiotics to clear his lungs.
At one point (just before we left Yellowknife), he was even in for x-rays to try and determine what the underlying cause may be (I was thinking enlarged heart after extensive research done on a Cavy Forum), but the x-rays showed nothing definitive. At any rate, we pretty much had a standing order for antibiotics at the veterinarian’s (not good – for Piggy or the wallet).
When we arrived in Comox, it was decided that Phoebe could probably handle a friend now and so the search for a female companion began in earnest. Due to the mild weather on the West Coast, there were lots of rescue pigs to be had, as people will buy them, find out they are too much work (they’re not!) and then let them free. One day, we set off to the Nanaimo SPCA to look at a little girl pig. It turned out that she may be pregnant, so we didn’t bring her home.
When we did arrive home though, we found Max terribly ill. As soon as I saw him, I knew that he was going to die, and very sadly, he did. We were all around to send him off and it was so sad. He was indeed a beautiful guinea pig spirit.
Sam and Toby, our the adorable long haired guinea pigs, aka "the little boys"
After that sad occasion, we were once again left with two single pigs…Pip and Phoebe.
Pip then took precedence in the companion search as he was lonely without Max. It turned out that the Filberg Lodge had two guinea pigs in need of care and so we brought home two little guys (Sam and Toby) with beautiful markings and personalities to match.
It’s lucky that they had one another, because after a couple of months with Pip, he turned on them. Where they once all got along, Pip turned into a demon and he was anything but adorable anymore. We eventually separated them, blocking off the tunnel that they could use to travel to the next level in their cage. Pip got upstairs, the little boys stayed downstairs.
I think Pip’s change was facilitated by the little boys reaching maturity, but even after we separated them, Pip remained…well, a pip. We now (affectionately) call him “Diablo” or “Devil Pig.” He still isn’t much of a cuddler, but he will allow brief lap sessions (if you bring food — and lots of it) and we also risk a good bite if we try to pick him up without a towel. Needless to say, he has drawn blood on more than one occasion. We do realize, however, that not every pig can be “sugar and spice,” and we love him for who is is. He is certainly a colorful character!
After the little boys’ arrival, we then again focused on a companion for Phoebe.
Enter Ellie. 🙂
Ellie came from a small animal rescue society and we picked her up (literally) on a street corner in East Vancouver. It went down kind of like a drug deal…
“You got the money?”
“It’s here. Where’s the pig?”
Despite her shady beginnings, Ellie turned out to be an adorable little lady with the loudest wheek EVER and when we first introduced her to Phoebe, Phoebe popcorned!
It was amazing and we all cried again because we’d never seen Phoebe show any sign of spontaneous happiness.
Of course, the bloom was soon off the rose as Phoebe did not like to share her space and was just a little cranky at times with dear little Ellie who just missed her mama and wanted someone to love her. Other times though, Phoebe would act motherly toward Ellie and it was very sweet. They are happy to share space now and on good days everything is fine and on bad days, they agree to tolerate one another’s presence.
So, now we had 5 pigs. And we also had some very nice, very large cages. And we also had much feeding, much laundry and a very much disgruntled father/husband who liked guinea pigs, but didn’t love them. Did I mention that he liked hay in the house even less?
After awhile, he wore us down with his infallible logic and we decided to give up the little boys (Sam and Toby) and surprisingly (or not!), it didn’t take long before we found a lovely family that was willing to take them. BDs were even able to meet the new family and see the new home and were very happy with the whole situation.
Although it was sad to say good-bye to them, we at least knew they were going to be loved and well cared for. I even hear from their new “mom” that they are getting lots of attention which even includes carriage rides!
And so now, we have three guinea pigs (Pip, Phoebe and Ellie) and our guinea pig madness is under control.
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