After nearly 8 years of happy times, my last guinea pig, Wave passed away last Monday, 20th October.
Wave is the guinea pig in the middle, the one who gets the dominating picture. She gets prime spot because she was such an amazing pet. That is also my fave picture of my princess pig. I think she looks adorable in it, I also luv how the sunlight gives her this warm glow enhancing her happy face. All it took to get that picture was me holding her up on a towel while standing at the front door. While I have a GH4 that takes amazing photos, this one was captured on my iPhone. Really goes to show that the best camera is the one you have on you.
Since Wave was my last guinea pig, I decided to put together a picture of all the piggies Ive had over the last 15 years.
The two brown and white piggies in the top left corner were the two original boys, Twitchy and Ginty. Ginty is the one with the cowlick and twitchy is the fatter one with the all brown head. I remember that in the first week of my brother and I getting them, one piggy liked his carrots and grass while the other liked my icecream and treats. One put on 10 grams while the other put on 100 grams. It was no shock that Twitchy grew to be a slightly overweight dominant boar while his brother was second pig. Our boys would stay outside in their hutch during the day and come in at night and sleep in their inside box near my bed. They mostly got cuddles while I was reading or playing playstation with my brother and step sister.
The black guinea pig in the photo under them is Twitchy's girlfriend, Patches. Patches was a guinea pig who had a hard first two years of her life before coming to live with me. She was given to me by my best friend while I was still at primary school to look after and after making her a pretty hutch of her own, (much fun was had in painting the hand made hutch pretty colours) she was kept beside Twitchy's hutch for company.
The little squeakers who are milling around Patches are a happy accident that happened when Twitchy was left with Patches in the box together because he got lonely after his brother, Ginty passed away at the age of just over 3.
The egg in shot was there to show how tiny the newborn piggies were. My brother and I were only allowed to keep one from the litter of 4, and it had to be a girl. So my brother chose to keep the one he called blazer Blazer. A girl who acted more like her dad. First born of the litter, she also had her father's bulk. The shot of the old guinea pig hutch third down on the left with the cat watching two guinea pigs was taken after Twitchy passed away after reaching 4 years old. Patches you can only just see in the left corner of the deck while blazer is boldly eating the grass on the right. Neither pig seemed to care that there was a cat watching them. By that stage, they were both too tame and knew they were safe.
Patches and her daughter Blazer lived happily together for many years. I would often be the one to go out and grab the guinea pigs so that my brother and I could give them cuddles. Patches made it to the age of 6. A rather good age for an old mother pig who had to put up with a bossy daughter every day till she passed away one night. I still remember that night. It was not a fun way for one of my early days at high school to end.
As Blazer was only about 3 years old by then and she was pining for company, so we went to the SPCA and found her a companion. A shy brown piggies called Shadow. You can see her and Blazer standing next to each other in the bottom left picture. That was the only picture taken that included Shadow though as we found out she had a heart problem and after an expensive two months of vet bills she passed away.
Blazer, being the loud bossy guinea pig she was, made it clear she wanted a companion again. As both my brother and I had school coming up after the christmas holidays and would not be able to spend all day with her, my mum decided to try the pet stores. This was around new year, nearly eight years ago.
After going round several stores and finding no guinea pigs, we came across one that had a single little girl. So we took Blazer with us and the moment the two piggies smelt each other the both went ballistic. They talked and talked and while the tiny 6 week old grey and white girl tried to climb the sides of the pet store cage, Blazer was also determined she wanted to meet this younger piggie. We couldn't say no to the two of them and what sealed the deal was the fact that I fell in love with Wave and the little flecks of white that graced her largely brownish-grey coat the moment I set eyes on her.
That day Blazer turned from dominant female to mother figure. It was an extraordinary change to see as she took this tiny pig under her care. Whenever Wave wasn't in the box with Blazer, I was giving her attention and she quickly grew to know me. She would follow me around the floor or wait for me patiently and loved to sleep on my pillow tucked up against my head.
We soon found that Wave had been pregnant before coming to the pet shop. This was a big problem for her as while carrying her litter, the nerves to her back feet got permanently damaged despite my best efforts to care for her. In the top right hand picture you see three guinea pigs enjoying pellets at their food bowel. Blazer and Wave at the top while Wave junior (the piggie who is all grey except for the white stripe down her face) would always try to claim a whole bowel to herself. Junior (Wave Jr usually just got called Jr, or rat face by my mum) was the only girl piggie in Waves litter and so although I really liked the chocolate brown boy, the problem was he was a boy and so had to be sold along with his brother to the local pet store. Wave Jr would always make sure to try and grab one whole feeding bowel to herself like in the picture because it was the only time she would have something to herself, the rest of the time she was bottom of the pecking order.
The middle picture on the right colum is Junior pig in a beanie. She loved to race into it, only to stop as soon as her head was inside. You could place her just about anywhere when she had her head in the beanie, in the picture, she was sitting happily on the kitchen floor. The bottom right picture was taken using my macbook's camera back in 2008 and shows what our girls had at night. Each night, ever since Patches got old, our piggies were given a hot water bottle to sleep on. It would be wrapped in a towel and they LOVED it! In the picture, from left to right sits Wave, Jr, Blazer. In that box we fitted 2 hot water bottles because Blazer would never share and being boss pig, she had fist pick of what water bottle she wanted each night. All three of those guinea pigs were fat and pampered and each one weighted around 1.3kg (female guinea pigs are supposed to be ...a little less than that) so fitting all 3 on two hot water bottles was really the only way to go
Blazer was my brothers most loved guinea pig and she passed away at the noble old age of 7. She was built like a tank yet could sing like a bird. She loved my brother, Wave and food. She was the only guinea pig of ours to go through an operation (when she was 4) and so my mum would often call her our gold guinea pig because so much money had been spent on her.
Wave and Jr pig lived on together, as much as Junior was mostly my brother's pig, there were times when I had to give her the holds, attention and sometimes just tell my brother to hold his guinea pig, because Blazer had been his number one and I feel like Junior never quite got over being bottom pig. Despite being very fat, Junior was the only one of our piggies who could jump high. As a baby she somehow jumped out of her foot tall night box only to land with a stunned look on her face and stare at us as if to ask how she got there. After she jumped out of that tall box, she got moved back into the more spacious inside box that despite only having walls 6" both our girls knew not to try and escape, food and attention would always come to them.
Jr pig and her mother, like the piggies before them were so tame that even when my grandma's cat investigated them one night, Junior leapt up and surprised the cat by giving her a right ol' sniff. But like all good things in life, that long happy time of mother and daughter drew to an end. Earlier this year while I was down country filming a wedding, Wave Jr passed away. Junior made it to the age of 7 before getting stuck down by a rare disease that left Wave and I with a big problem. While my bother slowly got over the loss of his Jr pig, Wave now had no guinea pig companion. As she was 7 and a half years old it seemed impractical to get her a new young piggie companion. The good news was that most days I worked from home, editing weddings and the like.
It wasn't a hard transition all things considered, I realised that I should have made my pig live inside more when her daughter was alive to enjoy the treatment too as it was so wonderful to have Wave with me at all times while I worked at home. She spent most of her time either on me, or in her box on my computer desk. The only times she had to go outside was when I would have television work, filming somewhere. She would look so sad when I put her out, but the moment I would return home after work she would light up and happily accept any cuddles and food I had to give her.
It was an awesome cycle. Most days I was at home and so I would hold her for as long as 3 hours (only that long if she decided to sleep on me, and being an old lady, that wound up happening a lot) and she would then go back into her box and eat for another 2. As she was old, fat and lazy, she never seemed to mind spending most of her time in doors in the same room as me. Even if i just left for a few moments to go do something, upon my return to the room she would perk up. I was thankful that she never pined for a new guinea pig companion, at least while I was around as it meant she could just be a people pig. My people pig. She took to that well, although after already being hand raised by me and loved for over 7 years, I think that it was enough for her to just be with her 'mum'.
Whenever I would have clients come around to work on a ad, music video or wedding, my wave pig was excellent 'Dawww' material. Then, just over three weeks ago, she fell sick and my world turned to shit. She stopped eating and decided she only wanted cuddles with me. That was the toughest week and a half of this whole year. From that Thursday, for a full week and then some more right till Monday the 20th I did little else besides look after my sick guinea pig and try (and fail) to get work done. Because she was so old, surgery was an expensive option that had a low chance of success. So, me being poor and in between major jobs, the vets and I did the best we could with drugs and critical care piggie food. Despite going down hill super quickly, Wave somehow held on and held on and held on. Whenever I entered the room my blind old Wave would go from looking like she was on deaths door, to you would almost think she was well again. In the early days of her wasting away, it was easy to believe that the pig cuddled up to me was okay. Right up until i would put her back and witness her do nothing, accept no food and look like she just wanted to get back inside my jumper's arm hole where she could lie and be taken around the house while I did things.
Despite fighting mum and I whenever we would try and syringe her food and meds, she would still react instantly to my presence and give me her little smile whenever she would snuggle up in one of her many spots on my lap, jumper or t-shirt. The last Thursday - Sunday period of her life I was part of a video crew shooting a indian wedding. I was supposed to be making a highlight of the first 3 days to be shown on the fourth and final reception day. All though the ceremonies I just wanted to get back home and comfort my guinea pig. I even told my boss the reason for me wanting to leave as soon as I could each day. It was painful being away from my pig, even for the 4 hours per day. But each time I arrived home, fearful that she might have passed on without me there, she would open her glazed over eyes and try and get to me for cuddles. The last 3 or 4 nights are hard to remember because sleep was almost impossible. On those nights, rather than go to bed, I allowed Wave to curl up on me and we both slept downstairs in my computer room. When I came back from shooting the indian wedding on Sunday, Wave looked ready to go, yet despite not having allowed anyone to force feed her in over a day, she still tried to rush into position on me for cuddles. Despite being so weak that her front paws hardly worked, I could see she was still in there. It was both adorable and heartbreaking and over that time I read a lot of Balto fan fiction while giving her cuddles in an effort to escape the pain. When I woke up on the 20th, Monday morning and found her still faintly breathing, cuddled up in a ball on me, struggling on, it was clear that as much as she didn't want to just let go that it was time. She would occasionally tell me she was in pain. That mixed with how weak she was led to my brother driving me and her to the vets where they gave her the injection and she fell asleep curled up on my tummy one last time at about half 10 in the morning. I think she only held on for so long because neither her nor I wanted to let go. Even on that final Monday morning, being driven to the vets I didn't want to let go of her and by then she had spent over the last 12 hours on me and me only.
I miss her so much.
Just writing this, even more than a week after her passing is making me beak down in tears. She's one of those pets who was just perfect. I would have liked to have held on to forever. She trusted me so much she would walk off my computer desk knowing my hand would appear there for her front paws to tread on. She knew she could walk up to the bikkie sitting on my keyboard and 'borrow' it while I sat there working. Whenever either of us wanted cuddles, she was there for me and would always gladly accept the invite to rush into cover on me. It was normal for me to have to put a decent amount of effort into extracting her whoever she chose to sleep in my jumper as there would always be that moment of 'but I don't want to go back to the box' before she would realise there was good food waiting for her.
Whenever she was on me, not even dogs and cats or seemed to bother her. I've always liked having someone around because I get lonely easily and for my whole career so far, she has been my company. Since her daughters passing, I've been Waves main source of company too. Its strange having no pets after having had pampered guinea pigs for 15 years. My 9 year old self would never have believed that one day I would be working at home with a much loved old guinea pig for company.
Although a part of me keeps thinking i should be holding my guinea pig while I'm sitting here at my computer, or going outside to pick her some food every few hours, its a strange, lonely feeling, realising every time I am about to get up to grab her that I won't get to hold her again while I'm on this earth.
Having had Wave for nearly a full third of my life so far, she has given me a ton of great memories. She was there when I was at high school, all through university and even into my fist few years working in the film/tv industry. All those great memories are added to by the other wonderful pigs you see in the assembled pictures above. Enjoy them, despite the sad tones of my story as I do enjoy the memories. Hopefully they will continue to spawn ideas for cute stories too.
I think Guinea pigs are amazing creatures. But after 15 years of owning them I think Wave is too perfect. You can't beat the best, is much easier to find something new than compare one piggie to another. So for now at least, I can't think of getting a new set of piggies, no matter how nice they would be to raise.
But if anyone wants to ask a question, I know quite a bit about Guinea pigs from my time of owning and loving them and I would be happy to help or answer any questions.
If I can find the old picture I took of her sitting on my xbox 360 controller when I had only just brought Halo 3, I'll have to post it because she looks awesome in it.