The Tale of 2 Guinea pigs: a cautionary tale!

The Tale of 2 Guinea pigs: a cautionary tale!

6aaf8bfa1344102d08d91c17a37e5ceb.jpgWe have a dog! He's a gorgeous dog, although rather minxy! He's a black and tan, long haired miniature dachshund called Buddy, so called because he's my son's buddy. He and I came up with the name at the motorway services we stopped at having been to meet him at age 7 weeks old.

I had a hamster when I was younger and now I'm older, and maybe wiser, I wonder why I chose a hamster as a pet€¦.they're nocturnal, they tend to bite, HARD, and some breeds don't like being handled at all!

Our son (Rhett, 9) is in the Cub Scouts and Pets at Home is one of the longest serving partners of the Scout Association, supporting the Animal Friend and Animal Carer badges. As I'm a €˜fledgling' Cub Leader, and we weren't going away over ½ term, I suggested that he and I could get going on some badge work together. He worked towards the Beaver Animal Friend badge with our dog, so I thought it would be a great idea for him to handle some smaller animals and I found that Pets at Home were running animal workshops so decided this would be just the thing we needed! Hmmm, here's where our journey began!!

There was one workshop about Guinea Pigs, one about Rabbits and one about Rats, all on different days spread through the week so I booked onto them online, which was a very straightforward process. Now to wait for ½ term!

On ae95316b8a968cd225e95f14583d5b35.jpgthe day, we travelled to our local Pets At Home store; we were given a very friendly welcome and I explained we were there for the workshop. The young man who ran it was; friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable; he aimed the workshop at Rhett's level so he understood everything and retained it too! We learned about what Guinea Pigs eat, the health checks we should do, what they needed in the way of a home and how to keep them stimulated and happy.  We had 1:2 attention (Dad was looking at dog treats!) which was fantastic from our perspective, although would not always be the case, as workshops can take up to 6 people, I believe.

Now, I can usually resist #cuteness #babyanimaladorableness but I was totally smitten and so was Rhett! He held a ginger and white crested guinea pig, about 8 weeks old, which made itself very much at home snuggled up against him, beautifully calm. There was no biting, he was wide awake, and enjoyed snuggles. I held a feistier one, which very gently nibbled but certainly didn't hurt in any way.

I was sure the other workshops would take our minds off the guinea pig! After all this was not about getting another animal, it was about handling different ones. Back on track!! €œIt was really cute though wasn't it Mum?€ €œI know Rhett, but we have Buddy€. Where would we put the cage anyway - we're already cramped for room? (I need heed f4b69249f9b98f2c06aef70c895ef3d0.jpgthe Domestic Goddess article from my winter mag!) €œ€¦and what about holidays? Who's going to look after them then?€ Shrugged shoulders from Rhett, as though I was a fairy Godmother who could magic it all OK! If only€¦..

On Wednesday it was the Rabbit workshop and this time just Rhett and I went! A different young man ran it, but again was very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and he fielded all the questions we could think of. A lovely little black and white bunny sat beautifully calmly on Rhett's lap and had the same effect on him! But, it just wasn't quite the same as €œGinger€. OK, so how much is this going to cost us then€¦€¦..well, Rabbits like company, we had learned, as do Guinea Pigs so it's not just about buying, housing and feeding 1, we would need 2 because that's how they are happiest. Rabbits are best neutered for obvious reasons and they need annual vaccinations. Rabbits apparently tend to need to visit the vet more often so, having gone through all the health checks, food, housing and entertainment we came to the conclusion that a rabbit wasn't for us!!

Friday was Rat workshop day! Hmm, well this one I wasn't looking forward to so much, but my nephew had rats, so I knew they were OK animals, despite their bad press from many years ago! Off we went up to the Pets at Home store and we were again greeted by the friendly staff who, by d46ad4d723296745a42b18d8fa6f01b5.jpgnow were beginning to get to know us very well!!
We met another member of the team; I didn't think it was possible to be more enthusiastic about animals, but he was. He knew Rats inside out, upside down and back to front. At times some of the terminology went a little over Rhett's head, but the fact that the rat decided to poo everywhere brought everything swiftly back down to earth again! We had already decided rats were not for us though! Without trying to dampen the assistant's enthusiasm, we confessed that we really liked the Guinea Pigs, and he was equally passionate about them too! We spent some more time with €˜Ginger' which just strengthened our smitten feelings for him! Now to decide where they would go, could we would afford them and to convince Dad it was a fab idea!

And so the Guinea Pigs came home with us that day, complete with cage, housing materials and food, along with reiteration about their care and the reassurance that if we had any problems we should simply call them or go back to the store! Coffee and Ginger are pretty well established now that we're handling them, after their 24-hour rest period. We've still not introduced them to Buddy properly yet, we're taking that bit very slowly, although he is extremely inquisitive!!

And there ends my tongue-in-cheek cautionary tale, the Pets at Home team are so enthusiastic you can get swept away with bringing home an df6efc278e8dc72fc293d5b6165f147c.jpganimal you never anticipated having!

Shirley Prenton-Jones

Shirley Prenton-Jones

Mum of one, outdoors and animal lover who loves a challenge!!

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