"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sarsparilla and Jenny Come To Stay

Pardon the very dirty socks, ya'll.
Snuggling into the soft, warmth of a living animal is a pretty irreplaceable feeling. We tried fish, we tried caterpillars, we tried observing wild animals on occasion and we tried subsisting on visits with pets that friends own. All those things are wonderful and helpful but not quite the same as developing a relationship with a living animal yourself, saying goodnight and good morning to each other, cuddling together on a bad day and learning to observe and understand cross-species communication.

 Our new house residents are a pair of baby sister guinea pigs that the boys named Sarsparilla and Jenny. We found them for free on Craig's List, (source of all good things) and drove home from a small town, a-way up Hwy 15 excitedly making stops in commuter lots and on curbs to peek at them one more time and stop to pick them green twigs and other leafy treats. Ru in particular is pretty beside himself about their arrival but all the boys are very pleased about having our own animal friends and have been very faithful about helping me take care of them. Even Nib is very territorial about his little personal job of filling their food dish with new dried seeds and nuts under my supervision.

They are gentle and silky soft, no finger biting or panicked clawing like rabbits. They are nervous about humans but they have become less skittish over time and are much calmer when people act calmly around them. They now recognize feeding and petting and our other interactions and they will happily sit in arms or laps for fairly indefinite periods of time. They are clever, bright-eyed, social foragers who are most active during the day which makes just watching them lots of fun. They are non-invasive, not smelly, neat and not loud although they do make gentle little squeaking, chirping noises to communicate. They eat raw vegetable and fruit scraps (squishy grapes, carrot tops and apple cores are well-loved), hay in quantity and packaged store grain based food but they get very excited about gifts of grass bouquets trimmed with dandelions eating the flowers and leaves the boys bring them with equal relish. They love to play with green sticks and gnaw rows of little hash marks down  them like miniature beavers keeping their teeth trimmed just so.

Such fun to have a little bright spot like this in our home routine. I have spent some exhausted evenings when the house was finally quiet and I felt spent with one pocket pet snuggled up on my chest, nuzzling that soft fur and looking into those glinting bright eyes just feeling better again. Companionship is so warming, even of the rodent variety. I think A is still not sure he allowed a good thing (I swear to you I got his permission first!) and he has yet to physically touch either one of them and calls them a bit reservedly, with a sniff  "the pigs" but hopefully he'll warm with time. Until then, the boys and I will get in all the snuggles we can....genuine pet-owners at last! I like to think Beatrix Potter would be proud and I think she'd especially approve of their forays into the garden on sunny days We have found that they can be carried outdoors in arms, followed by the boxy, wire section of their home and then put to graze directly onto some warm spot on the lawn, not too far from a good patch of clover. A little garden work seems to make them very happy indeed, life is not so very rough for our girls.
"Guinea Pigs" a watercolor by Beatrix Potter from her collection Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes

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