The first time Boogieface asked for a dog she was just three years old. Not gonna happen, we said. But she persisted. So we told her she could get one when she turned 10.
Lying to your kids is one of the many privileges of parenthood.
Of course when 10 rolled around, there was still no way we were gonna get her a dog. Again, she persisted. But my wife and I weren’t about to cave. Our lifestyle — which consists of working all day and then driving our kids back and forth to soccer practice every other waking moment — just doesn’t allow for pets. We’re always on the go. It just wouldn’t be right to get a pet.
That’s when my in-laws stepped in. It being Boogieface’s birthday, they wanted to get her something she really wanted. At first they suggested a trampoline. But our neighbors around the block already have one, so I was against it. Next thing I know they’re talking about a turtle. Wait…what? How did we get from trampoline to turtle? But when they went to the pet store to buy it, they were told they’d need a 50-gallon tank in which to keep it, so we put the kibosh on the turtle, too. For a brief, glorious moment, it looked like we’d successfully fended off the pet situation.
The next thing I know we’re at PetSmart picking out…A GUINEA PIG!!!
How did this happen? A guinea pig? What the heck is a guinea pig anyway? These were the thoughts racing through my mind as I watched Boogieface joyfully embracing her new pet. I listened in horror to the PetSmart employee explain all the things we’d need to take care of it: hay, food, cage liner, i.e., all stuff that costs money and that you have to buy over and over and over again. Then she mentioned how guinea pigs were “social creatures” that had to have at least two hours of “socializing” every day. Socializing? How the hell do you socialize with a rat? And two hours!? Heck, I barely spend two hours a week socializing with other human beings.
“And, oh,” she added, “once a month you have to cut their nails.”
Was it too late for that trampoline?
So here we are, two months into the Great Guinea Pig Experiment and, oh boy, let me tell you, it’s been a real hoot. At first we were keeping the cage upstairs in my daughter’s bedroom. But hauling the cage up and down three flights of stairs everyday got old real quick. Especially because it was yours truly doing the hauling. (Remember: you have to socialize with them!) OK, so where do we put it? There was no way my wife and I were going to have a dirty, smelly caged rat in our living room. The next obvious location: the dining room, of course!
According to the guinea pig Facebook group pages (yes, there are multiple guinea pig Facebook pages), the little rodents shouldn’t be cooped up in their cages all day; they need “running around time.” So now we have a 5-foot-by-3-foot guinea-pig playpen in our dining room, too.
Let me tell you, nothing helps you enjoy your meal like looking over and seeing a filthy rat staring back at you from three feet away.
Why not just let it run around on the floor, you ask? Because, being a prey animal, it is absolutely terrified of us and would just scurry under the china cabinet. Yep, nothing beats the love you feel from a pet that always runs and hides from you because it’s convinced you’re going to murder it.
Somehow within the first few days we unknowingly trained the thing to expect baby carrots every time someone happens to walk into the kitchen. So now, anytime I go to get a glass of water or a cup of coffee, the little bugger starts squeaking and squealing incessantly until I finally give in and bring him a snack. I wonder if he’s aware that they eat guinea pigs in South America?
As for the upkeep, fortunately guinea pig poop is tiny. Unfortunately, ours poops about 279 times a day and therefore the cage needs constant cleaning to keep our entire house from smelling like a pet store. And since my daughter is in school most of the day, guess who gets to clean it?
I kinda feel bad for the little guy. I mean, he is kinda cute, poop and all. I hate keeping him cooped up all day by himself, only to occasionally scare the crap out of him (literally) when I take him out to clean his cage. That’s no kinda life, even for a stinky little rodent. They say you should actually have more than one of them to keep each other company. Good thing that “they” don’t make the decisions around here.
(Apparently my in-laws do.)
So am I regretting not getting my daughter that dog? Maybe a little. We still don’t have time for a pet, be it a dog, guinea pig, or whatever. Luckily, I hear these things only live 8-10 years or so. Unless, that is, you take their cage outside and accidentally leave the lid open. Not that I would ever think of doing that.
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Copyright © 2019 Valentine J. Brkich