Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Guinea Pig Debacle

So, as some of you know, I live with my girlfriend in a half tiny loft apartment in a bit of a posh neighborhood in Johannesburg. We have two balconies, one bedroom, one bathroom (shower only), a dining/kitchen area and a loft upstairs. It's not huge but it's home and we love it.

Now my lady has always been a stickler for anything cute and furry. She grew up with a host of dogs, cats, birds, chickens, tortoises, rats, well you get the picture.

In the beginning of 2008, to put a stop to her near constant whining I bought her a little hampster, nice, neat and easy to keep. Naturally she was absolutely over the moon and I was replaced for a few weeks with this little grey rodent. Eventaully everything settles down and we got on with our lives.

When we moved in she happened to notice that we lived in a pet friendly complex full of cats and dogs. Whenever she saw one she'd give a shriek and grip my arm so tightly that I'd start to get pins and needles. Our conversations usually went something like this:

Lee: KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tom: We can't get a cat woman, we live three stories up and the cat wouldn't be able to get back up again if it went outside for an adventure.

Lee: KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want one!

Tom: Seriously, we can't get a cat. It's going to live for 18 years and we don't know where we're going to be then. You can't take pets overseas.

Lee: Please? Meow...

Tom: And what about Eliot? (our hampster)

Lee: He lives in a cage. Meow, please? Meow?

Etc Etc.


About a month ago Lee started dragging me to a few pet stores "just to look". Big mistake.

I sort of hinted that I thought the guinea pigs were kind of cute. Heck, I really do love animals and those furry little balls of fur were running around with each other and it was kind of cool.
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Guinea Pigs (called Cavies) in the US, are basically super big, clever sociable hampsters.

Naturally Lee jumped on this with girlfriend claws outstretched and managed to convince me that getting two of these little critters would be a good idea.

Lee: "And you can train them, and cuddle them, and feed them lettuce and play with them...."

For some unknown reason I went along with this and it became a giant snowball that just grew bigger and bigger as it rolled on. I thought that it would be kind of cool to get some friend for Eliot and that it couldn't hurt because the things would only live for 3 years anyways.

After a few e mails we found a breeder and Lee went and picked two out. She scheduled to pick them up the following day after we'd sorted out the cage and whatnot. Then we quickly ran out to spent way too much money before the pet store closed on a small rabbit hutch and a few accesories.

We got home and i set myself to contructing everything, filling the cage with assorted grasses, installing the toys and filling the water bowl.

That's when I decided it was enough.

Our apartment smelled of hay, the hutch was enormous and grass was getting everywhere.

I sat on the stairs and started eyeing Lee out, trying to telepathicaly let her know that i no longer thought this wasn't a good idea. She kept looking at me and smiling that 'I can't wait until I get my new furry babies' smile and generally missing the hint.

Eventually I caved in:

Tom: "Everything kind of smells like grass"

Lee: "It's fine! It will go away, don't worry"

Tom: "That cage is kind of big, and the grass smell is really bad"

Lee: "Do you want to get the Guinea pigs still?"

Tom: "No"

Lee: "What?"

Tom: "Do you?"

Lee: "Not really"

Tom: "Thank God"

Call us bad people but we pulled apart that cage quicker than I could say "I'm sorry Guinea Pig breeder, this aint for us". We took the cage back the next day with the excuse that it didn't fit our apartment, which it didn't..kind of, and after recieving some very dirty looks from the pet store guy as he handed us our R1000 back in cash.

All in all we felt kind of bad but hey, we went and had a waffles right afterwards with our pet cage money and that made everything go away. Yeah, we're nasty people and yes, those Guinea Pigs had to stay with their Guinea Pig family but at least I'm not sweeping hay and cutting an assortment of fresh vegetables that aren't intended for my ingestion every evening.

No pets for a while if you ask me.


That damn expat said...

Great story!

I never liked any of those rodent type pets. I'm a cat and dog person.

Andy said...

I'll visit South Africa if you don't get a guinea pig near me. I'm crazy allergic.

Thomas said...

Sounds like a deal, I don't want any of these critters living with me anytime soon

Anonymous said...

I agree with That damn expat - I've never liked rodents as pets. I also prefer dogs, well, anything bigger than my foot.

With my luck I'd kill the tiny thing.

Washatawa said...

Here is a Guinea Pig Hutch Store. We sell guinea pig hutches!

GC said...

I love them guinea pigs - besides being cute pets for some, in Africa (ok, some parts of Africa ... if not most of them)we RARE EM' TO EAT 'EM! Delicious! and eh... some mix their blood with cow milk... as a health drink! yaks! you might say but true...