Into Guinea Pig Mischief
I love guinea pigs. I was nineteen when I first felt Ophelia’s small pink paws cling to my hands and her twitching whiskers tickle me. She was a cute copper colored guinea pig. All cavies, I believe, have distinct personalities. The guinea pigs I love are no exception. I learned a great deal about these furry critters that befriend without question. Ophelia paved the way for my love of guinea pigs.
I developed a lasting bond with Ophelia. Like all cavies, she could not contain her emotion. She gave me kisses and purred loudly all the time. Ophelia liked to run up my arm and nibble on my chin, nose, and ears. She had a sweet personality and was always in my arms. I owned Ophelia for two wonderful years.
I like to take my pets traveling with me when going on trips to Cape Breton to visit my grandparents. We stopped to eat at a restaurant and kept her in the car, assuming she would be fine. It was a fatal mistake. When we returned, to our shock she had perished from heatstroke. We continued on to Pleasant Bay in the gloomy rain. I learned a brutal lesson that day, to never leave a pet unattended in a car on a hot day. I had lost a friend.
Twotone was my second guinea pig. Twotone was an extraordinary cavy. She taught me the meaning of unconditional friendship. She entered my life on a warm sunny September afternoon. I spotted her at a pet store and was instantly smitten. She peered at me from her confining cubicle like I was her heroine. Once in her cage at home, she immediately took hold of five marvelous years of my life.
I built her a hutch for her to play in the summer. I went to a hardware store for supplies and returned with wood and chicken wire-to keep out the cats! It took effort to build the hutch and it was worth it.
I set the hutch down on the grass, plopped in my little excited piggy, and it was magic. She happily explored her playground ready with a food bowl, water bottle, a blanket and grass for her to feast on. The yard was full of grass, dandelions, and clover much to her delight. The chicken wire allowed her to see around the yard and let me keep an eye on her. Twotone was thrilled to play in the hutch to her hearts’ content.
One afternoon I found a cat boldly batting at the chicken wire of the hutch with its’ paws. I ran after the cat alarmed. The cat turned around at the raspberry bush and meowed at me for a long time. Then the cat ran off. I watched Twotone hopping on the grass utterly unaware of being in any danger.
Ozzie, my brother’s dog, a crossbreed of Great Dane and black Lab, was trusted with Twotone. I put her on the ground. She began gnawing on his tail and hind legs. He groaned and rose to his feet. Once Ozzie put his big paws in her cage and stared at Twotone. He was obsessed with her. He did not understand what a guinea pig was so he used to drool over her for hours, trying to figure her out.
Every morning I obeyed the summoning “wheek!” from Twotone begging for armloads of fresh organic food. One night at feeding time I fed her the usual alfalfa pellets and romaine lettuce. She was determined to have oranges but there were none. She was undaunted by this and hovered at her food bowl and begged me to produce oranges or else! I caved to her wishes and brought her a single orange from the store. She purred, happily devouring the fruit. Every time sweets passed by her keen nose, she began squeaking. It was impossible not to share a slice of orange or apple both from her cuteness and talent for scent.
I cleaned the cage regularly and filled it with fresh shavings. Guinea pigs are very fussy. Sometimes I left the room after the cage was refreshed and returned in shock. Somehow in two minutes, there were fresh shavings all over the floor. I have often cleaned a blanket or a soiled shirt from her untidiness.
I gave her baths, clipped her toenails, offered plenty of cuddles and bought her toys. I knew Twotone was a special guinea pig. She had a power to heal and brighten my days. She was so knowing and sweet.
I was not the only one who fell under her charm. People at the Farmers Market offered her free lettuce and Swiss chard. Employees at Perks Café looked forward to her visit. She became a favorite customer. Passersby petted her and cooed about how cute she was. When my brother’s friend met Twotone she adopted a guinea pig of her own only to find out too late that it was pregnant. Two young boys in my neighborhood both adopted hamsters inspired by Twotone. She was known for melting tough hearts too.
It was heartbreaking to see Twotone suffer from maloclussion, a devastating tooth condition of the molars becoming overgrown. I took Twotone to the vet to have her teeth trimmed every few months. One day it was too difficult for her to chew food or drink water. She was sick. I alerted my neighbor, Sherry Macpherson, also a devout cavy lover, for her help. I was shocked and deeply upset during the drive to Parrots to Ferrets Animal Hospital. Twotone showed true courage. She died that afternoon surrounded by caring people. I do not know how I recovered from that fateful day.
I own two curious and cute guinea pigs now, Minerva and Snowball. I love them both. They have an endless penchant for mischief. Snowball has broken my jewelry, eaten toilet paper rolls, and messed up the floors. Minerva and Snowball nip each other playfully. One of them steals a piece of food from the other. This ends up in competition for watermelon or cucumber. Minerva gets jealous over treats and cuddles.
Once the household is roused in the morning, they are unrelenting in their squeaks. They make a clear association between the sound of the fridge door and what comes out of it. After the food is served, they purr to show us their gratitude. It is their energetic and playful antics that amuse me. Years of happiness and friendship await me with these cute cavies that I find so easy to love. I am ready and equipped with a well-stocked fridge and lots of patience.
Twotone pictured above
Minerva and Snowball pictured above
Minerva and the Teddy Bear