January 14, 2016 by Katia
According to popular belief, people can be one of two things, either a dog or a cat person and never mind how hard God worked on the whale. Discriminatory and offensive as this theory might be, it does account for the noticeable lack of “everything else” people. You may never hear about them, but the Iguana and Guinea Pig people are there, unable to flaunt their titles due to their pet’s alternative lifestyle choices, lack of interest in going mainstream and determination to “do you” even if “you” means “iguana”. I know what you’re thinking. Iguanas ARE so 90s, but we’re sidetracking here. We may never get to the bottom of why people with Iguanas are not Iguana People and we need to accept that and move on. But what about Guinea Pigs? Now there’s another pet that only ever happens to other people, right?
Right. Everyone always knows SOMEBODY ELSE who owns a Guinea Pig. Let ME be the Guinea Pig Person in your life.
Here’s how it happened.
In the fall my husband (a dog person) tried to convince me (I swing both ways) that the timing was perfect for us to obtain a dog. First of all, we didn’t already own one. Changing that circumstance was the only right thing to do for various noble and morally admirable reasons. Those reasons would instantly elevate us from our ordinary existence and usage of standard verbs to describe our actions and transport us into superhero verb realm where words like “rescue” would apply. To us. Furthermore, according to my husband, our six and three year old sleep deprivers were at the same time both emotionally ripe to accept this responsibility as well as deeply dependent on it to expedite their emotional growth. Really gets you thinking, right?
Sure, if you’re the kind of person who is entertaining the idea of a third child. I, however, happen to shy away from new forms of sleep deprivation. I happen to be attached to my current and familiar one and am not looking to super size it. To say that we had just gotten our kids to not wake up at 5am would be inaccurate as it implies taking steps towards achieving that goal. We didn’t have to. We simply waited for six years until greater powers clearly decided to get involved. For that I am deeply grateful. I’m also grateful for the fact that while my kids don’t always wake me up JUST to pee and poo, when they do, they’ve never once asked me to take them out for a walk at 6am on a wintery Canadian morning. Not even the toddler. Hashtag Blessed. In addition, I am very (un)comfortable with our current sleeping arrangement where three of us share the same bed. Suffice it to say that our last dog, my beloved Louisa, had a favorite spot to curl into a pretzel and it was my pillow. No amount of convincing on my husband’s part and emailing links to photos of dogs with great inner beauty helped. I wouldn’t budge. I know what being US is all about, and if we were to ever own a dog again, it would be one of those “outside peeing optional” types (once again) and that doesn’t mesh well with a hands on toddler and a lurking older brother.
Meet the Guinea Pigs. For the life of me I can’t tell you right now why Guinea Pigs instead of a cat, which would have been a far more natural choice for me than a rodent, but my husband worked his Taurus magic (read supernatural tenacity) and we welcomed these docile creatures into our lives.
As the first act of mandating shared responsibility we’ve entrusted our children with the task of naming the two female companions we’ve just purchased. Upon doing so we were immediately reminded how our unusually creative and verbose 6 Year Old tends to switch off his otherwise overly active imagination and becomes highly descriptive and reliant on his observation skills when naming things. Meet Blue Bear and Big Long Dog.
It should have come as no surprise to us that he would select Katia Bishops as his Guinea Pig’s name. I told him that having another family member sharing my first and last name might get confusing, but he was showing signs of great attachment to his choice and I momentarily considered it, but then imagined having to introduce our pets to other people outside the family and became worried I might come across slightly megalomaniacal. Butbefore I even had to explain all of this to 6 Year Old he unexpectedly settled on Molly. 3 Year Old, on the other hand, seemed to have anticipated this moment and promptly and unapologetically named his chosen Guinea Pig Scape.
Guinea Pigs don’t seem to have inflated egos, which is great, since they’ve been referred to by my kids for over a month as “the hamPsters” (6 Year Old) and “my bunny” (3 Year Old). They lead a simple and unassuming lifestyle. They live to eat and I totally get that. They are described as social creatures and have to spend at least one hour per day outside of their cage socializing with their Guinea Pig People. I don’t know about other Guinea Pigs but what socialization hour looks like in our house is sitting still under a blanket that covers their entire body and head. I can totally dig that too. There are the downsides to owning Guinea Pigs, of course. You know that saying: Don’t Shit Where You Eat? Guinea Pigs don’t . Nor are they aware or care much about “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. There’s always been a lot of crap rolling around on our floor. Now some of it is literal.
One superhero verb which also applies to parenting is “surrender”. Never have I ever thought that I would choose a rodent, and over a dog at that. Sometimes surrender is good and sometimes a clever ending is not necessary when you can just show pictures:
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