Thursday, February 7, 2013

Adding A New Member to the Family?

Adding A New Member to the Family?
My boyfriend and I recently decided we wanted to expand our family by one or two little furry beings.  We thought at first (well I thought at first) we would be getting a pair of rats to add to our family as I've had rats for most of my adult life and for the past few years I've missed having them around.  Boyfriend however has the usual aversion to them that most people do so I had to play this one carefully.  We went to the local pet store and I had him watch the sweet little rat babies tumble around with each other.  It looks like rat kung-fu.  So he decided maybe the rat thing might not be so bad after all and we decided to take some out and see which ones were the most comfortable being handled and which ones we liked the best.  And it was at this point that after touching one baby rat on the head with one index finger Boyfriend decides he's allergic to rats and says he's itching all over.  Now I'll admit I do get itchy if they scratch me but most people are like that.  So needless to say, we walked out of the pet store with me almost in tears with the realization that if I'm going to be with Boyfriend I'll never have rat babies again and my boyfriend feeling terrible for making me so sad.  

Now at this point in our story I'm still convinced that even though I have Todd Ellison (see previous posts) I NEED a small furry fluffy in my life.  Boyfriend suggested a ferret but they need a lot of floor (out of cage) play time and they get into lots of mischief so even if we separate the dog and ferret for playtime we when our back is turned we may not notice the ferret slip away and then we'd have a broken ferret.  They also need vetted just like dogs and cats which means yearly costly vaccinations that we were not prepared to take on. 

Next on Boyfriend's list was a Guinea Pig.  I was definitely not optimistic because every Guinea Pig I've ever seen has skittered away when I've tried to pet it much less pick it up.  How can you snuggle a Guinea Pig if they don't even like to be touched??  I agreed to check out some pet stores and see if we could find a Piggy that wasn't afraid of it's own shadow. 

The first place we checked was fresh out of Piggies and the second only had one Guinea Pig that was already full grown and wouldn't let anyone near him.  Now, he was super cute and all but I'm a realist and I know neither Boyfriend or I have the time to socialize an already grown up Piggy with bad manners so unfortunately that was a bust as well.

At this point I was ready to give up completely.  But as we were driving home, on a whim I decided to stop at one of the last pet stores in town.  And this kids, this is where I fell in LOVE!!!  We finally found a Piggy that wasn't all certifiable and he loved being held and petted and made all kinds of Piggy chirps and purrs.  Come to find out this little guy had a hard start in life.  One of his litter mates was stillborn and all the other litter mates picked on him because he was the runt and because he was blind in one eye.  Yes I said it BLIND IN ONE EYE.  That's why at two months of age he was so calm and gentile, he'd been socialized with people since birth because of all the vet visits and medication he had to take because of his birth defect. The lady at the pet store offered to sell him to me for less than half price if I would take him.  I have a feeling he wouldn't have lasted much longer there if I'd have left him.  Plus the thought of some greasy kid who is supposed to "learn responsibility" by getting a pet is going to be terrorizing him not realizing or understanding his special needs.  Needless to say, it was a done deal.

Now we had to get Gallifrey (Doctor Who fans will know where this name came from) or as Boyfriend likes to call him "Piggy Smalls" settled in.  We bought a HUGE cage and a desk to sit it on so the dog wouldn't be able to access the cage.  I had set up the cage first so Gallifrey could get settled in his new home and then we started putting together the desk.  This required some serious hammering because for $25.00 the screws don't always fit.  This is when we noticed out new baby was sound asleep not even two feet away from me hammering this desk together so loud I'm surprised I didn't wake the dead.  He didn't flinch, jump, freak out, nothing.  Oh crap, this rodent is half blind AND deaf.  And upon closer inspection that night he was covered in scabs on his back and rump area from where the other Pigs picked on him.  We took him to the vet the next day to make sure there weren't any other birth defects and to get some spray on antibiotics for his sores.

No other problems were found my my vet and the vet said he behaved better than most perfectly normal Piggy he sees in his practice.  I think the words he used were "I think you'll find that even though he can't hear and he's blind in one eye he's going to make an amazing fun little pet for the two of you".  He was definitely right about that.  The blind eye doesn't really affect him and because he can't hear we just have to make sure we don't sneak up on him.  He has to see us before we touch him or else its like someone coming up behind you and scaring the bageezus out of you.

He was really easy to litter train, just figure out where he poops and put the pan in that spot and then you only have to completely change the cage every week give or take a few days.  And I LOVE the little noises he makes!!!  Guinea Pigs are very vocal animals to begin with but Gallifrey is extra loud and vocal because he can't hear himself making the noises.  And he throws temper tantrums when you move his food bowl even  though you're just going to put more food in it.

I guess what I'm really trying to get at in this post is this, if you're thinking about bringing an animal into your family and you have that idea of what the perfect pet is going to look like or be like don't be so hasty to pass over the "special needs" animals.  Sometimes what you might think is special needs isn't special needs at all, its just special.  Like Gallifrey, I love him to pieces and the only special need he has is to put your hand in front of his face before you try to touch him in the cage because he can't hear you behind him.  Or like the three legged dog that's sitting in the shelter getting passed over again and again because hes such a good dog but he looks a little funny.  Trust me, that three legged dog or cat has learned to adapt by the time you run across them and they can run and play just like any other dog or cat.  They've just had a tough start in life and they're waiting on someone to give them a chance.   :)


  1. That was just about the sweetlest story I have ever read. Fate gave that lil guy a good, loving home. Its always the ones who struggle that end up being the most amazing.


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