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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

21 June 2005 Issue

Adopting A Guinea Pig, A Serious Decision
by Carolyn Mullin

Stop and think about this lifelong decision being made for me. Where will you be looking for me?   Are you going to the rescue shelters first and trying to give those of us who have no home a happy home with you? Are you looking for notices of guinea pigs that are available for adoption? I have no idea why people think they need to breed us to the point where we are overpopulating this earth. I am NOT a commodity, I don't belong in some little pen in a pet store mixed with the opposite sex where I can act out my natural sexual instinct and then I'm either pregnant at a very
young age, or I have pregnanted some wonderful sow who may not survive her pregnancy because she's too young to have babies.  She's still a baby herself!  I'm telling you the truth of
the situation with the hope that the next time you look into my eyes, you won't do something to me that you may regret later.  I don't have to have babies to be happy. I don't have to
have sex to be content.

What type of habitat are you able to give to me? Don't put me in a cage that has wire under my feet.  I will eventually get "bumblefoot" and I don't want that.  I would like to have something comfortable, attractive, and roomy.  You do live in a place that is appealing and roomy for yourself?  Will you remember that I grow up and need a larger habitat just like you did when it was time for you to come out of your crib?  Is the habitat manageable for you so I won't live in a trash pen?  Responsible stewardship of a companion animal involves providing proper housing, nutrition, grooming and veterinary care. The more knowledgeable you are, the better you are able to provide for me.

What are your expectations in bedding?  When you choose a bedding for me, you should consider: health risks, cost, odor control, required amount, lasting quality and my preferences. I hate splinters, slivers, dust, bacteria, yeasts, and pungent aromatic oils! I make all the pungent odors on my own and you'll need to keep those under control.  You will  want what makes the perfect highly absorbent bedding, especially for
me or my cavy companions because we may have sensitive skin or respiratory problems!

Who will be my cavy caretaker(s)? Are they really ready for all that is involved in giving me the best life possible as my potential cavy caretaker? Are you willing to spend the time it takes to help cavy caretakers who may be young children.  Many of my cavy pals have been dropped and hurt by children without supervision and it's not the children's fault when the parent isn't doing their job! Did you know that I don't like being left in classrooms in schools ALONE night after night or on the weekends. I also don't like having leftover lunch food dropped into my cage by these kids in your classroom.  How would you like it if someone put you in a see through cage and you were stared at, poked at, experimented with as a group of children decided if I am an appropriate classroom pet.

I'm me, without all the fancy paperwork and genetically created names that don't mean a hill of guinea pig pellets to me or you. I hope I'm not some birthday gift which is thrown into a toy chest when you get tired of me. What kind of food will you will you provide for me?   I'm not eating out of anything with the words "Dog" or "Cat" on it.  I'm an herbivore, do you know what that means? I don't eat table scraps. I have a required diet.  This
means that I don't eat chocolate! I don't eat rhubarb and there's quite a few of those house plants that I won't be nibbling on, they could kill me. Do you have a health maintenance plan for me?

Do you know the signs of illness so that you aren't suddenly in shock if I am laying on my side and gasping for breath.... that means that I am dying... you don't really want to wait until it's too late!  I hide my illness for some reason and so this means that you have to be aware of me at all times.  Check me out! I don't bite... unless I'm scared. Do you have a good cavy vet pre-selected for me?  He or she doesn't have to be "cute" because that's my department. But he or she must be well experienced in the proper treatment and care and medical and herbal knowledge of my needs and know what to do when I'm sick or have some nasty disease.  I need to be seen by this wonderful veterinarian at least 2 times a year for a complete physical exam. Do you have credible cavy books and have read them so that you know the basics? This shouldn't be done after I'm in your home.  This should be done before you and I become life partners! You'll need to be sure that you are well-read about me before you decide that I am the most adorable critter you have ever seen and that you "just have to get me!" I want SMART cavy caretakers! I also want to see that you are having fun chatting/ communicating with other cavy caretakers so that you are learning more and
sharing with others about me.

I don't want to be displayed at shows just so you can earn ribbons.  I don't need that stress in getting ready for a cavy show!  I need to be displayed in your heart only.  So ... what
will you do when I pee on you?  When I'm not so "cute" anymore?  When you decide that you want a bigger "pet" to play with?  What about when you go off to college?  What if you get married and your wife hates guinea pigs?  What if you have to move into a place that doesn't allow pets?  The people who make these laws do so for a reason. I need a lot room, I need fresh air, a run in the grass, and unconditional love and a family who is able, willing and ready to make me a vital part of their life.  Don't hide me in a closet just so you can keep me in a place where I don't belong.  Would you hide your own human children in the same way?

So.... if you can't do all of this, please put me down and and thank yourself for rethinking one of the most important decisions of my life and yours!

Author:  Carolyn Mullin

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