Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Guinea Pigs Are So Much Work!
By Joanne Colangelo
Joanne Colangelo volunteers for a number of animal rescue organizations. She shares her experiences in giving guinea pigs another chance at a forever home.
Click image to enlarge
Photo Courtesy Joanne Colangelo
Guinea pig Merri nibbles on some carrots.
Our family was taking a vacation, and I asked my mom to watch my guinea pigs while we were away. In addition to pellets and timothy hay, I left various types of fruits and vegetables for mom to feed them daily. When I returned, the first words out of my mother’s mouth were, “I don’t know how you do it! Guinea pigs are so much work!”
Hmmm…work? She didn’t have to shop for their supplies, clean the cages or wash their fleece. She didn’t need to weigh them (monthly is best), brush them thoroughly or cut their nails. So, I asked my mom what was it about taking care of my guinea pigs that made it so much work. “Oh,” she said. “It took me over an hour just to cut their apples, carrots and lettuce into tiny bite-sized pieces!”
It’s funny, but I don’t think of anything that I do for my sweet little rodents (who gnaw, Mom!) as “work.” I love shopping for their fresh veggies, knowing that I will get a chorus of wheeks as they run to greet me for their share. Cleaning their cages actually relaxes me. As they scamper around my feet, I take pride in making their home clean and pretty. I continually rearrange their tunnels and beds to make their environment new and interesting for them every day. When I groom them, it’s a loving interaction between the pigs and me, and an important time to check their bodies for anything unusual. To me, none of this is “work.”
The real work is done by rescue – dedicated volunteers who tirelessly struggle to keep piggie care at its best. Aside from lugging food and bedding from the store, and cleaning cages for numerous pigs, they face the daily concern of where money will come from for food, supplies and veterinary care. Many guinea pigs enter shelters and rescues with medical concerns and need immediate intervention. Medical care can be just as expensive for guinea pigs as it is for dogs and cats.
Where does the money come from to support rescue? Most organizations rely on time-consuming fundraisers and the generosity of others through donations to keep their group running. Add to that the vet runs, interviewing potential adopters, paying bills, administering medication, socializing the guinea pigs, paperwork, etc., etc. Now that’s hard work!
I take pride in volunteering for animal rescues; it’s so rewarding! Whether I am cleaning cages or selling raffle tickets, I know I am helping to make life better for an animal. When I have spare money, I find pleasure in knowing that I am donating toward the food or vet care needed so desperately. It’s easy “work.”
Just the other day, my mom stopped by as I was about to feed my guinea pigs. Out came whole leafs of romaine lettuce, large pieces of seedless cucumbers and chunks of red peppers. Mom looked at me, smiled and asked, “So, tell me, when is your next vacation?”
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Guinea Pigs Are So Much Work!