Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back for More: Adopting Willow and Pippin

This is the sequel to Discovering Adoption: Athena and Victoria.

I have yet to have a pair of guinea pigs with such a strong bond as Vicky and Athena.  They would bicker and hassle each other like a pair of siblings and yet would cram themselves in their hidey house to sleep together every day.  When we lost Athena, Vicky quickly became lonely and depressed without her constant companion.  This was new for me - my previous single pigs had done well, even thrived, on their own.  I feared for Vicky's well being, so I began my search for suitable companions.

Willow and Pippin
I visited the MSPCA in Boston soon afterward, having seen a pair of guinea pigs on Petfinder.com that  fit my requirements: a pair that were no more than 1 year old.  I brought carrots tops in a plastic bag in hopes of making friends (I had checked with the shelter about bringing food).  I walked into the "small animal" room and discovered that the reaction to a crinkling plastic bag is universal:  an entire wall erupted with frantic wheeking.  Fresh greens were a rare treat for these guys.

The shelter had a dozen guinea pigs, far more than what was posted on Petfinder, aged from 3 months to a few years old.  I wanted to take them all home with me.  After spending an hour observing and examining all of those cute pigs, I finally settled on a mother/daughter pair.  They were  named Alberta and Sheba.  I soon renamed them Willow and Pippin.

Three pigs in a bag
The shelter was very relieved I was taking multiple guinea pigs.  The small animal room was overcrowded; one wall had cages that were stacked four high.  They even offered to give me both sows for the adoption price of one.

That was the summer of 2005.  I never quite got Vicky, Willow and Pippin integrated together in a single herd as I had intended.  But Vicky perked up just from having piggy company on the other side of their divided C&C cage.  Willow and Vicky often slept next to each other, separated by the grids.  Vicky passed away in her sleep that February and Willow stayed beside her until I discovered them in the morning.

I've had many years with Willow and Pippin.  I lost Pippin in December 2009, but Willow is still going strong.  She is well over 7 years old and gives my newest pair of adoptees a run for their money whenever she can.

Vicky, Willow and Pippin's divided C&C cage
It feels good to have given each of my adopted guinea pigs a home.  Athena and Vicky had been surrendered because the owners got bored of them in less than two years after adopting them.  Willow and Pipin were dropped off because Willow had been unexpectedly pregnant and landlord hadn't approved of the number of guinea pigs.  I saw some in the shelter because tenants never checked if pets were okay with the landlord before purchasing them.  My latest pair had been seized, pregnant, from a hording/over-breeding situation.  It's likely the owner didn't understand how young or quickly guinea pigs can procreate. 

Adopting from a shelter puts money towards a worthwhile organization and helps reduce the number of unwanted pets in my community.  That is something I can get behind and feel good about.  Everybody wins.

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