Friday, March 7, 2014

Confessions of a Crazy Guinea Pig Lady (With a Poem by Alfred Nicol)

Leeloo says hello

We all wear many hats, and in addition to my most public ones (wife/mother/professor/writer/Springsteen fanatic) I have a semi-secret alternate identity: Crazy Guinea Pig Lady.  Or, to be more accurate, Crazy Rodent Lady.  People who know me from Facebook--including many folks I've never actually met--know I have a soft spot for rodents of all types, but especially for those docile, kidney-bean shaped puffballs we call guinea pigs (although nobody seems to know exactly why, seeing as how they're not pigs, and they're not from New Guinea).

These days, my house is home to two rescued guinea pigs, Leeloo and Tootsie Roll.  They're actually our second piggie pair; before them we had two boys, Turk and Bartleby.  


Back in the days of Turk, the best guinea pig ever


Back then, the internet was privy to my struggles to keep both boys alive despite their frequent bouts with bladder stones. When that battle was lost, the internet looked on as I obsessed over whether or not to adopt another pair, and if so, which pair out of the many lovely piggies in need of homes.  Around that time I started paying attention to all sorts of guinea pig rescue groups, and posting particularly adorable adoptables on a more or less daily basis.

All of this is how I became a Crazy Guinea Pig Lady.  Lately, when a cute picture of a hamster, guinea pig, rat, mouse, gerbil, or even a capybara, starts making the rounds on Facebook, it's a dead certainty that more than one friend will forward it to me.  And the other day I received this more or less anonymous giftie in the mail:




And of course I squeaked with glee!



Tootsie takes center stage

I could go on and on about how guinea pigs have distinct personalities, and how they have a predisposition to love and be loved.  I could tell you the legend of Turk, who never greeted me without kissing me on the lips, even when he was terribly sick, or of his friend Bartleby who sat beside him in those days, seemingly to comfort him.


Bart's turn

Instead I will post a beautifully crafted poem on the subject by my friend poet Alfred Nicol--a poem that cuts to the heart of why these patient little pets have a thing or two to teach us.

(As a guinea pig obsessive, though, I need to add a couple of fussy caveats.  The poem mentions alfalfa.  Better to give your guinea pigs timothy hay, my friends, and plenty of it. Alfalfa can cause those dread bladder stones.  And the guinea pig in the poem lives alone, but pigs are social animals and most of them are much happier in pairs.)


Guinea Pig

A pet, domesticated overmuch,
Inhabiting interminable lulls,
Most pusillanimous of animals,
Inertia's own, quiescent as the sands,
And shy to venture even round the hutch,
Her pleasure is a motor in my hands,
An instrument set racing with a touch.

A little thing of breath and heat compact,
Mildest of spirits, in a flask of fur,
Without even a sound as signature,
No bark or whinny, whistle or meow,
No word to instigate or to react,
She gently nods assent to here and now,
An answer well-considered and exact.

I'll learn from this one how much not to do;
How large a silence to accumulate;
To serve with those who only stand and wait,
To change alfalfa, sawdust, water, salt,
For other needs as moderate and few;
To thrill when lifted; visited, exalt;
Nor ever speak till I be spoken through.

If you're interested in learning more about these dear creatures, check out Guinea Lynx, the internet's best source for reliable piggie info.




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