I found this out not long ago when my son came to me and told me that one of the guinea pigs looked like she was loosing her fur. Knowing how well he takes care of them, I knew it couldn’t be scurvy. My son gives them their veggies every night so they were getting enough vitamin C. Looking closely at her I had to agree, something was off. The poor creature looked miserable.
I really like guinea pigs. They are cute, friendly, and recognize their owners. It also helps that I have a son who does an excellent job of taking total care of them. By nature, I am a very soft hearted person when it comes to animals, but I was raised in semi-rural Tennessee. Ever read Charlotte’s Web? Rural life is often cruel but necessarily so. Vets were for dogs, cats and farm animals. In my house, we’d have tried to take care of it ourselves, but calling a vet would have never crossed our minds.
When I told a friend about this, she laughed at the absurdity of the situation.
Shovel to the head, Jen. It’s the merciful thing to do.
What? These are pets!
I had to laugh with her because there is a part of me that agrees with her. Part of what we agree to when we take in a pet is to be responsible for it even if that means being merciful when it is hard. But I am a softie and I don’t have that in me. Besides, I could never kill my kids’ pets without trying to help them first. Even then, I think I’d have to phone a friend.
Anyway, I called our vet, but they don’t take exotic pets. Really? A guinea pig? Exotic? But they knew a guy. Of course they did.
Nope. Not going to happen.
I call the guy. Fearing exotic pets means exotic prices I ask how much for a guinea pig exam. Around $50. Okay. I go to hang up, but he tells me there is one more thing. Could I bathe her before I come in? Bathing a guinea pig is about as ridiculous sounding to me as taking it to the vet in the first place. Why do I need to bathe a guinea pig? Because the vet is highly allergic to guinea pigs. Oh, the irony.
You do own a shovel, right?
I get the guinea pig and the puppy shampoo, enlist the kids as assistants and head to the sink. There is nothing more pathetic than a wet, sick guinea pig that is missing patches of fur. We place her in a box with a towel and head of to place where all exotic pets must go.
I don’t know what I was expecting but it was just a regular vet’s office not much different from our regular vet with the exception of the beautiful bird behind the counter. He hands me a form to fill out. Besides the regular information of name, date, etc., there were some pretty interesting questions like: On a scale of one to five, with one being “it’s just an animal” and five being “it’s a family member” how to you think of your pet? I circle a three and labeled it ‘mom’ and a 4 and labeled it ‘kids’. I then placed an asterisk next to it that said ‘mom holds the checkbook’.
The shovel is free….
It turns out that the poor beast had scabies, one of the few things a pet can get and pass on to humans. So it is a good thing we took her in. We were told that the bargain bag of wood chips I decided to try out to save approximately $4.00 over the paper litter we were using was most likely the culprit. The good news was that the medications my dogs and cats were on would protect them, but if I saw any rashes on the kids, to let their doctor know. Also, if she had the little beasties, then her sister probably had them too. So, after an examination and a couple of doses of medicine for her and one for the guinea pig at home we were done. The bill was not quite $200. What a bargain that litter turned out to be!
A new guinea pig is only $30.