Saturday, July 3, 2010

Considering the Guinea Pig

While I recently crossed the country for a pet-sitting gig, watching after a charmingly dim dog and a pair of low-maintenance cats, I'm not what one would call a "pet person." Perhaps this is due to the notion of how much energy it takes to raise one consistently drilled into my brain by my mother.

When I was a child, I was one of those kids who visited the elderly neighbors on a regular basis, finding some sort of specific comfort in the alien nature of their ancient knick-knacks and seemingly constant viewing of Lawrence Welk. And they had dogs, of the appropriately low-key variety. I loved these dogs and would have sworn at the time that they loved me, although looking back I can see how my exuberance (and tendency to want to dress them or cart them around in a wagon) was surely only tolerated.

I did, for a few months, have the only pet of my childhood, a hamster named Hammy (I know, an embarrassingly common name coming from such a creative child...) I pawed at that thing constantly, taking him out into the backyard, plopping him into the basket of my bicycle, wheeling at top speed down the alley while he poked his head out of the top, gripping on for dear life. It never once occurred to me what I might do if he suddenly jumped or flew out.

Anyway, I am reminded of all of this because I agree to pet-sit for my friend's daughter's guinea pig.

So Cookie and I have been co-habitating since Wednesday evening. She requires even less care than I had initially thought (which I'll admit was minimal), but her presence makes it impossible for me not to consider the life of a guinea pig.

If you don't already know, they don't seem to do much.

At first, I thought it was because they live in such tiny cages. That maybe they would somehow, with more space, be inclined to run and frolic.

But this doesn't seem to be the case.

So I went to the research. According to Wikipedia, "their strongest problem-solving strategy is motion. While guinea pigs can jump small obstacles, they are poor climbers, and are not particularly agile. They startle extremely easily, and will either freeze in place for long periods of time or run for cover with rapid, rapid, darting motions when they sense danger."

Yep. That seems to be more Cookie's style, perpetually darting into her purple plastic igloo whenever I enter the room. Which I find unfortunate, but it's not like I'm out to become some sort of rodent-whisperer. It would be nice to know that this animal had a pleasant visit, but essentially job is to make sure the pets aren't injured or die while their owners are out of town. Which is why I guess they make good pets for young children. That, and they're awfully cute.

Still, knowing it just sits there for hours upon hours, staring out into the cage from her igloo, kinda freaks me out...

1 comment:

  1. Now, I'm freaked out. The next time I am in a pet store, I'm keeping my guard up.