F.U.R.B.A.L.L.S. - Part 3
My first pet guinea pig, Rosalie ("Rosie"), dates waaaay back to the 1970s. It seems like a lifetime ago (and it almost was). My mother was still alive, I was not yet a Christian, no one had heard of or probably even imagined the Internet, and I had not even come close to meeting my future mate or visiting Seattle. The year was 1974. I don't remember the exact circumstances that led to my acquiring Rosie. My then-best friend, Jackie, had a male piggy, "Oscar", so I wanted one too. She was a wonderful pet and very beautiful - a white longhaired (Peruvian) with a black and tan face. I loved her cuddly soft fur and her squeaky voice, and she was easy to take care of, requiring only clean shavings in her cage every few days and fresh pellets (dry food), veggies and water every day. She was quite tame and liked to be picked up and held. I do have a picture of her on our bed and will get it scanned and added to this page as soon as I locate it! (I wouldn't be able to do that with some of our current piggies, who are still quite skittish and would likely try to scamper off the bed - but I will try soon.)
During the time we had Rosie, my mother passed away in '76 and my dad and I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. We left her with my Uncle Frank and Aunt Florence, but we moved back to Chicago 6 months later. When Rosie heard my dad's voice, she started squeaking VERY loudly - she recognized our voices after all those months and was so excited! And I was excited to have her back.
A couple of years later in '78, I met the man who, the following spring, would become my husband. I didn't neglect Rosie but I know I didn't pay quite as much attention to her as before I met Rex - and sadly, she passed away a couple of months before we were married. She was a sweetie and I wouldn't have thought it would be over 20 more years before Rex and I would acquire our next piggy. I honestly don't know why that is, except that life happened - we were both in school part time in the 80s in addition to my working various office jobs. We also went on long auto trips every year, and in '84, we found Seattle and knew that was where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives, which took another six years of working and waiting. After a year and a half in a tiny loft apartment in the heart of the city, we transitioned to ten acres in a rural area across the Sound -- acreage we still live on, though our housing improved dramatically last year, as described elsewhere on this site. We concentrated on having large doggies once we moved onto our acreage, and they will always be a huge part of our lives. But finally on Sept. 30, 2000, we added a piggy to our household. My dear friend Dianne and I had traveled to Spokane, at the other end of the state, for a Collin Raye concert. When I returned a couple days later, there he was! Rex had found a listing on our county's Freecycle E-mail list that he needed a home.
Popeye, Harvey, and Salina
He was a shorthaired piggy, mostly black with an orange face and a wide orange stripe down his middle. I eventually named him Popeye, due to his devouring the spinach leaves we gave him regularly. Popeye gave us a lot of pleasure in the almost five years we were able to have him. Once he got used to his new home (it took about three months), he enjoyed being picked up and cuddled. After having Popeye a few years, we were advised guinea pigs like to have a sheltered area in their cage they can hide in. So we got him a purple plastic "igloo" and wished we had done that sooner, since he loved it. He would sometimes eat his carrot in the "igloo" with just his head sticking out. Rex said it made him look like a furry turtle. Late in the evenings, when I would sit in my chair next to Popeye's cage, he would often press his little face against the bars for me to pet him. Popeye passed away on July 20. 2005. I think he knew he was loved, and though we don't know what his age was when we adopted him, I hope and assume he lived to the normal guinea pig life span of 7. Like our doggies who departed before him, and our piggies who died after him, Popeye was buried on our property. I didn't get any pictures taken of him and wish I had, since we had him longer than any of our other piggies except for Rosie.
Five days later I found Harvey, an Abyssinian guinea pig, at our county's shelter through petfinder.com, and Rex went to pick him up. The Abyssinian variety has wavy fur that is said to form "rosettes" - though in Harvey's case, he also had wavy tufts of fur on the sides of his head that Rex said made him look like he had "mutton chop" sideburns! He was a pretty tan color, very cute and was actually one of the most active guinea pigs we've had. He came with his own "igloo" and often liked to climb up on top of it (Popeye was never agile enough to do that). We were told he was four when we adopted him, so we expected to have him at least a couple years. But we found the little guy dead in his cage early in the evening of March 30, 2006. He had seemed less active that last week, but didn't seem sick and had jumped into his carrier as usual that morning when Rex cleaned his cage. So we don't know what happened, and can only hope Harvey knew he was loved during his brief eight months with us.
In Oct. '05 we had adopted a female shorthaired guinea pig from a fellow member of our county's Freecycle list. We don't know what Salina's age was, and like Harvey, she seemed to be thriving the first several months we had her. Then like Harvey, she lost weight and began acting sluggish. Rex got some liquid vitamins to put in her water last month, and that seemed to perk her up. But she died on July 13, exactly nine months after we adopted her. She had a very glossy black coat with just one tiny white speck on her head. She used to squeak VERY loudly when she wanted to be fed (I never heard such a loud squeal on such a small critter) and she loved fresh spinach. She also had an "igloo" to hide and sleep in (which, of course, is pink), though she couldn't climb on top of it since it has a rounded top. When we suddenly lost Harvey, we were especially thankful to have her, and I couldn't have imagined that we would only get to have her for 9 months.
Rosie II and Meg
In May '06, before losing Salina, we acquired two additional female guinea pigs from Freecycle. Our understanding was that both were only about 16 months old at the time. They were different breeds but apparently always lived in the same cage and got along great. Nutmeg ("Meg") had pretty brown and black "salt and pepper" fur, huge brown eyes, and was an agouti which apparently is technically not a guinea pig but a close relative. She closely resembled a squirrel without a tail. To my amazement, I learned agoutis apparently can live up to 18 years (compared to 5 to 7 for guinea pigs). So that is why it was totally unexpected to find sweet Meg passed on the evening of January 29, 2009. She was chubby and fairly inactive, compared to the other piggies, but appeared to be in good health the day before. When I had read online about agoutis' life expectancy, I figured we would have her for a long time. We attributed her inactivity to having a calm nature as opposed to anything being wrong. She was our only piggy that I could reach my hand in the cage and pet her at any time, and she would not scamper away. She liked to be held and frequently made a "motorboat" sound sort of like a cat's purr, which I assume meant she was happy. And I trust that she was; we really cared for her and gave her a good home.
Rosemary (a/k/a "Rosie II") was a tortoiseshell Abyssinian, the same breed as Harvey, but she was two-tone black and orange. She was very pretty and fluffy with one of the louder squeaky voices of any of our piggies. But I was not been able to hold her often as she remained quite skittish and nervous. Rosie II lived alone in her cage after Meg died, then we lost this lovely little girl on June 17, 2009.
Pinky, Speedy and Cinnamon
We adopted Pinky and Speedy from Freecycle in Sept. '06. They were cagemates, and at the time we assumed they were both male. Pinky was a shorthaired albino with soft, silky white fur and pink eyes. Speedy was a tiny black shorthaired piggy and was about the hardest piggy to pick up and hold (which was how we named him Speedy); he would always run away, so I never really got to hold him or know him very well. Speedy died suddenly on April 17, 2007. After Speedy died, we paired Pinky with Cinnamon, a rust-color shorthaired we adopted on July 6, 2007. Cinnamon had been without a cagemate, but they seemed to get along well, except that Cinnamon sometimes got a little aggressive and would chase Pinky around the cage. But at other times, they would be laying next to each other in their igloo like two little bookends. Things seemed fine between them till a few weeks ago, when Cinnamon got so overly aggressive with Pinky that we had to separate them. We then tried pairing Pinky with Dusty, another albino (more on him below) and the same thing happened. At that point, Rex wondered if Pinky is actually a girl in heat, which would explain the boys' aggressive behavior. Rex turned Pinky over and decided she actually is a girl. (It's hard to tell with guinea pigs, but we never suspected anything since she had been paired with Cinnamon for several months.) So we paired her with Zoey (more on her below) and they seemed to get along fine! Pinky passed away on April 21, 2012, She was a very sweet piggie and we actually got to enjoy her longer than any of our other piggies so far.
Cinnamon (who Rex named because of his coloring) seemed calmer when we caged him by himself again. It was easier to pick him up and hold him, though he always seemed to prefer for Rex to hold him. He was our only piggie other than Harvey who was athletic enough to climb on the top of his igloo and sit there, which led up to give him the nickname "King of the Hill". I also called him "Lone Wolf" due to his preference to be alone in his cage; I never did get as attached to him as I did to some of our other piggies. Cinnamon passed away on Aug. 8, 2010.
Harry, Ozzie and Joey
We adopted Harry and Ozzie from Freecycle in Sept. '06 (a matter of days after Pinky and Speedy joined us) and added Joey as a third cagemate for them over a year later, in Oct. '07. Harry, Ozzie and Joey were three of the most beautiful and darling piggies we have ever adopted. I fell in love with all three of them and we were blessed to have them. Harry was a gorgeous white longhaired (Peruvian) piggy with dark brown streaks of fur. If we had a piggy beauty contest, Harry would have won. He was always a little skittish, but once you were able to pick him up and hold him, he was very calm and sweet. I named him "Harry" because he was hairy and because of "Ozzie and Harriet", since his cagemate's name was Ozzie. We were blessed to have our wonderful Harry the longest of this special group of piggies -- almost 5 years. Harry went on to piggie heaven on August 5, 2011. I am writing this update the next day and getting teary; we will miss this little fellow terribly. I'm kicking myself for still never getting around to taking pics of our piggies, since Harry really was beautiful....
Harry's cagemate, Ozzie, who came with his name, was one of the calmer piggies we have had. It was usually not too hard to pick him up, and he liked to be held. He was a very pretty tortoiseshell shorthair and one of my favorites. I was home from work on May 6, 2008 to prepare for a routine medical procedure. I checked on all the piggies that morning and everyone seemed fine. But little Oz remained in his igloo and died sometime that day. We think he had a blockage in his rear end and couldn't poop, a problem that male piggies sometimes have, but Rex checked them regularly and had not detected any problem. We've since learned that an excess amount of spinach can aggravate this situation (we had been giving all the piggies spinach every day, assuming it was good for them). So now we only give them spinach once a week and give them other veggies the other days. It was a hard lesson to learn, having to lose Ozzie. I hate to think we were inadverently doing anything that may have harmed him. But at least now we know.....
Joey was wonderful! He was a black Peruvian piggy and was so furry that sometimes I had to take a second look to realize which end was his face! He was definitely one of the calmer piggies we had and was so much fun to pick up and cuddle. He was definitely a ball of fur -- I'd play with his hair when I held him and gave him a Mohawk, then smoothed back all the fur so I could see his sweet little face. I was especially glad that we had him as a cagemate for Harry after Ozzie passed. Sadly, Joey passed away on Dec. 21, 2010. These three fellows were among the most special piggies we will ever had and we will never forget them.
Dusty, Rusty and Zoey
Acquiring the next group of three piggies really caused me to realize I needed to have a separate page for my piggies, not just to pay proper homage to each of them, but to help me keep track of them. At the time of our housewarming in Oct. '07 we had six piggies - Rosie II, Meg, Pinky, Cinnamon, Harry and Ozzie. I felt that was plenty; I never thought we would have that many. Then we adopted Joey, and he was a doll. THEN my hubby found two more piggies from Freecycle that needed a home. We acquired them shortly after Joey, last Nov. They were two male cagemates - a small, agile, pretty part-albino shorthair (white with pink eyes, but with some dark fur on his face) that we named Dusty due to his dark face, and a small rust-color shorthair (similar to Cinnamon but smaller and more skittish) who we named Rusty. Rusty was the more aggressive of the two and would sometimes chase Dusty around their cage. As with Speedy, I never really got to hold or know Rusty; we only had the two of them a few months when Rusty died. Now that Dusty is alone in his cage, he seems happier. He is very curious, always looking around and stretching when he hears any sounds (especially the sound of a veggie bag rustling). He is still squirmy when we try to hold him, but we hope he will become more calm eventually.
Sept. 2008 - We lost little Dusty on Fri., August 29. About a week before, there was a drastic change in his activity level and appetite. He had been one of the more agile, active piggies we'd had. Now, he didn't move around much, stopped standing and stretching along the side of his cage, and wasn't eating much or begging for food. Rex began putting some liquid vitamins made for guinea pigs in his water, hoping that would help, and he did seem to start coming around a bit. But then he passed on, about an hour after I came home from work that Friday. We don't know what happened; we're assuming some type of virus. Our other six piggies continue to thrive, though Dusty seemed to also till that last week. I did learn more about how Dusty and Rusty were placed on Freecycle. They and four other piggies were abandoned in someone's home, and by the time they all were discovered, the other four piggies had died. We don't know how long Dusty and Rusty were there before they were found and how that may have compromised their health. I can only be glad we were able to give these sweet critters a good home for their final months.....
Zoey was Joey's mom! She was a darling, mellow tortoiseshell Abyssinian piggy and like her son, liked to be held. We were excited to be offered the chance to adopt her. We knew she would be a sweetie based on how nice her son has been. She liked to be cuddled and was a frisky and happy piggy, and we just loved her. She was tiny and it's hard to imagine she gave birth to Joey! She seemed fine alone in her cage but when we paired her with Pinky, she seemed fine with that too. She was so laid-back and we hoped that quality would rub off more on Pinky! Sweet Zoey passed away on Feb. 18, 2010.
I have to admit that little Connor is one of my favorite piggies we have had, if not my very favorite. Rex adopted him from Freecycle on July 22, 2009, when he was about a year and a half old. He is a small beige shorthaired fellow with white trim and pink eyes. He is so entertaining -- he is the only piggie we have had who literally RUNS in circles around and around his igloo in his cage; it is so cute to watch. So he is quite the little athlete. Another unique characteristic he has is that when I hold him for awhile, he will squeak VERY softly, almost like he is singing to me. It's just so sweet and he's our only piggie who's ever done that. So I admit I hold him more than I do the other piggies, since he seems to enjoy it and I love listening to his pretty little singing voice!
Dec. 30, 2012: Our darling Connor indeed did become my all-time favorite piggie, and that's saying a lot since we've had so many sweet ones. His running around his cage in circles and the way he sang when I held him made him so unique and special, as did the way he knocked over his igloo several times a day. When I would approach his cage, he would always come to the door on his hind legs wanting attention, petting and treats. I truly loved him, and he always seemed so lively and healthy. So it was a shock to discover that he had passed away sometime late in the day today. He was only about 5, so we have no idea what happened. This is a very sad and unexpected way to end 2012. So now we only have 2 piggies left -- the following two beautiful boys:
Patches and Pudding
Rex brought these two very pretty male tortoiseshell cagemates home earlier this year (2010). Darn, I can't believe I can't find a blog entry or E-mail with the date. They didn't come with names (unlike most of the others, who came with their names). I named Patches almost instantly due to all the patches of color he has -- his body is black in the front, brown in the middle and white on the rear, while his face is half white and half brown and black, almost like a mime. So he is one of the prettier piggies we have had. His cagemate is also pretty; black and brown with just a little white on his face. I wanted to name him something that went with Patches and remembered a cute story I always remembered about a lady who saw an antique teddy bear in a store and asked him, "What is your name?" and he seemed to reply, "Pudding". So I decided that would be a cute name for him. Patches and Pudding are still quite skiddish, though I got to hold Patches recently. They are among the loudest squeaking piggies we have had when they are ready to have their fresh veggies in the evening!
We lost both Patches and Pudding in 2014. They were the last of our piggies. I believe we will have more piggies in the future, but instead we adopted two male baby rabbits in July of that year: Fred (the slightly larger, less skiddish brother) and Barney (the shy brown brother). I'll say more about them on my blog and will include a couple of photos.
I meant to add pics of our piggies to this page. But sadly, I never got around to it. Some of them were calm enough to sit on our bed for a moment like Rosie I did, long enough to get a couple of pics. I could have tried photographing them in their cages, but then the bars would have gotten in the way. Now, all of them are gone. I wish guinea pigs lived longer, but they are wonderful little critters and I've felt we would never again want to be without one (though that is the case as of 2014), even though it does hurt to lose them after a few short but enjoyable years or even months. This is why I chose the song "Precious and Few" for this page. I always loved the song, but the words "precious and few are the moments we two can share" seem so appropriate when you get attached to a little critter and then, a few years or even months later, you find them cold and stiff, often with no warning. A few weeks before I started this page, I thought all of our piggies were thriving. But then all of a sudden, little Oz was gone, and since then, we've also lost Dusty, Meg, Rosie II, Zoey, Cinnamon, Joey, Harry, Pinky, Connor, Patches and Pudding. In spite of this, I think it's clear by now that Rex and I recommend guinea pigs very highly as pets. They are so pretty, sweet, cuddly, easy to care for, have such cute squeaky voices, and they all have different personalities. Our tiniest family members have blessed and enriched our lives, and this page is dedicated to the memories of Rosie I, Popeye, Harvey, Salina, Speedy, Rusty, Ozzie, Dusty, Meg, Rosie II, Zoey, Cinnamon, Joey, Harry, Pinky, Connor, Patches and Pudding.
Please go to Furballs Page 1 to read about our dearly departed Farley, Tessa and Gus.
Please go to Furballs Page 2 to meet our dearly departed Colby, Heidi, Archie and Jesse, and our present-day doggies -- Susie and Ty.
My Furballs pages were created in the fanciful font "Minya Nouvelle" by Ray Larabie. If you don't have it, get it here for free; you'll love it!
Music MIDI from Jack's MIDI Music