Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Little Bit About Us

Sometimes, especially on some New Year's Eve when I'm looking back on the last 6+ years we've been living on our farm, I think to myself how I never expected to be where I am today. I have a B.A. in English writing from St. Lawrence University. A few years after graduation, I decided I wanted to try culinary school, and went to Paul Smiths' College in the Adirondacks for one semester. Ryan and I were married in 1999, when I was 8 months pregnant with Amanda. We moved out here when our kids were 4 and 2, and not only did we expand the guinea pig rescue, we started taking in farm animals as well. If you'd told me six years ago we'd own 12 goats, a llama, a donkey and nearly 30 guinea pigs, I think Ryan and I would have laughed.
Most of the animals we've taken in have been abused or neglected. I think what we've learned above anything else is to have patience; that applies to all our animals, no matter where they've come from. With love and patience, we've seen many of them blossom, and become the wonderful companions they are today.
So, in the spirit of the New Year and new beginnings, let love and compassion be our constant, guiding light, even in these not-so-great times. Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Naming Your Guinea Pig

Naming guinea pigs is one of my absolute FAVORITE things about having them! If they already have cool names, I keep them (Pork Chop and Gravy were two of my favorites, as well as Martini, who arrived today). For a while, because I work in a bakery, I was on a "sugar kick,"
using names like Brownie, Cookie, Oreo, and Caramel. On a few rare occasions, I do get piggies whose names have been "forgotten," were not named at all, or were just called "Piggy." Sometimes I ask my kids to help with names (they've chosen Moe and Joe, Tootsie and Trixie, Sweet and Sour), or I start getting creative (Taco and Chili, Salty, Wooly and Willy). For some strange reason, I do not like to repeat names, so I have changed a few to accomodate this weird quirk of mine.
So, when choosing a name for your guinea pig, watch it for a while and see what its personality is like. Find out what its favorite foods are, whether or not it chews a lot, if it "popcorns" frequently. Get to know your little friend, and you'll find a great name in no time!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who Stays,Who Goes? Part Two

After reading over my last post, I realized I didn't completely answer the "who stays, who goes" question. Long story short, a guinea pig MAY be adopted out if:
1. It is relatively friendly (although some jumpiness can be worked around with time)
2. It is healthy.
3. It is NOT pregnant.
4. It is not a chronic biter.
5. It is not too old. (I consider 3 to be pushing it.)
As far as the "who stays" part, long-haired piggies are an additional concern for me. I have adopted out some silkies to people who have had prior experience, or who have done their research and know they will need to be brushed/trimmed on a regular basis. As for Peruvians, I've taken in two, and they have remained here because 1. They do require more grooming and are often subject to neglect, and 2. Anyone who knows me knows I have a MASSIVE weakness for Peruvians. I may be getting another one soon..will keep you posted!

Who Stays, Who Goes?

My job (for lack of a better term) here at the rescue is to find permanent homes for some of the guinea pigs I take in. My goal is not to be a "revolving door" and get as many guinea pigs in and out of here as possible; my goal is to make sure that candidates for adoption are going to be compatible with their new families.
When I take in new guinea pigs, I like to take quite a bit of time getting to know them. I want to see what they do when I pick them up, how they're eating and drinking, whether or not they jump or hide at any little noise, and how they are around my kids and dogs. Obviously, they are treated if there are any health issues, and will not be adopted out until they have fully recovered, assuming their temperament is good. I take note of what foods they like and dislike. When I hold them, I watch to see if they nibble a lot (and I warn potential adopters if they do!). When I get pairs, I usually find that one is more shy than the other. I do keep pairs or groups together unless there is fighting to the point that could cause injury. Sometimes I am able to place single guinea pigs together, but in most cases (especially with males) this doesn't work. Single pigs can live side by side in their own cages, though, so everyone has plenty of "neighbors" to chat with!
I have a LOT of piggies to get acquainted with right now...Taco and Chili are very calm when held, although Chili's coat is a little drab and coarse. I need to handle Duff more so he is less jumpy, and Poppy needs a little extra care as we are going to assume she is pregnant. I want to handle her enough to make sure she is used to it, but she needs to be handled carefully to prevent injury to her or the pups. And of course, if pups are born in February, they will go fast! As with most animals, people like to adopt babies. Guinea pig babies will bond quickly with humans if they are handled well!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snow Sucks!

As they say, if you want to make Mother Nature laugh, make plans...
Due to the very (for lack of a better word) CRAPPY weather today, almost all of my guinea pig related plans have been put on the back burner for now. I'm off work all week, and none of these things were urgent, so in due time, we will get back to business as usual.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I warned my husband, Ryan, about the upcoming "flood." Although many guinea pigs went out as Christmas presents, more will be arriving here soon...for example...
Monday at 11 am, I am meeting someone all the way in Canastota to adopt out Duff, and in return I am taking a guinea pig who is a chronic biter. I guess he's so bad, his young owner can't handle him, but the boy still wants a guinea pig, so he will be taking Duff, and I will get "Fang," who will become a permanent resident here.
At 1 pm, Buttercup is going to her new home.
At 2 pm, I am driving to Oswego to pick up two more male guinea pigs from someone who is severely allergic to them (they were a gift).
In addition, I may be getting yet another guinea pig, but more on that as information arrives. I will post pictures tomorrow evening when I get settled in!

To Bathe or Not to Bathe?

I've had a lot of people ask if you need to give guinea pigs a bath. My answer is, only if they are exceptionally dirty! Guinea pigs (from my own experiences) are not crazy about being in water. Because I take in a lot of abused or neglected piggies, I find that giving them a bath would only add to their trauma. If you keep the cage clean and keep your guinea pig groomed (which you only really need to do if it has long hair), you shouldn' t have to give it a bath.
However, if you decide you would like to do so, make sure you have everything you need. Pet stores sell Bunny Bath and Squeaky Clean, which are shampoos made just for rabbits and guinea pigs. Have a nice fluffy towel ready for when you're done, and make sure the room isn't drafty or cold. Use warm water, and if you're putting your pig in a sink or tub, put something in the bottom to make it less slippery. Your guinea pig will most likely struggle (unless it gets bathed very frequently and is used to it), so just be gentle, but make sure your little friend doesn't squirm away and end up getting hurt.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

First of all, let me wish a warm Happy Holidays to everyone! Right now I'm wondering how all the kids whose parents adopted guinea pigs from me are enjoying their new little friends. I know a lot of them had to keep the adoption a secret, so I hope everything worked out!
I cannot say thank you enough to a whole host of people who have adopted guinea pigs, contributed supplies, or just said a few kind words about the rescue and the website. This was a stellar year for adoptions, with a total of 55 guinea pigs finding new homes in 2009 alone! I have met many wonderful folks on this amazing journey as the rescue has grown. I also received my first Christmas guinea pig card/'s so cute, I want to frame it and keep it up all year long! (Thanks to Patty and her family for that.) I have had so many people help out when I was stuck taking piggies without cages, water bottles, etc. and no words can truly express how deeply I appreciate everything that's been done for me and the animals.
And because all 26 of my remaining piggies were so good this year, they all got treats! Santa brought them bags of snacks and carrot sticks, which my kids found on top of some of the cages this morning. On the downside, our well pump died and we are having it replaced right now, but we have no running water! I had to melt some snow and ice cubes to fill water bottles today. Hopefully things will be fixed before we have our Christmas dinner!
So hopefully you guys who follow the blog are doing something ELSE right now, but when you come back, you can be sure I'll keep everyone posted on all our furries. Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Great news...all five of my new babies are being adopted in the next few days! That will give us a little extra time to get them socialized. My daughters have been playing with them nonstop the last couple days, so they are getting used to being (gently) handled. As cute as they are, and as much as my kids will hate to see them go, they have all found good homes, and we'll see if there are more babies in another month or so!
We are also trying to arrange for another guinea pig to come all the way from Corning...just need to find a good time and day! More news on that later...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Family of Seven

I was planning on taking five of these guys, and ended up with the whole family! After checking everyone out, it seems we have three females and four males (including the parents). The girls are in the bottom pic; I tried to get a pic of the boys all together but they're SO fast! Someone is already interested in taking the three baby boys. The dad will stay here; the mom cannot be adopted right now as there is a good chance she is pregnant again, so we will have to wait until February to find that out. I never expected to be THIS busy with piggies right before Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Ok, here is my schedule for the week:
Today: Met someone to pick up two guinea pigs I wasn't expecting (but they did come with cages!).
Tomorrow: Buy used cage for less than half price because I'm going to need it by the end of the week.
Thursday: Hopefully get my five little babies, because...
Friday: Someone is coming out to meet Rodney and Buttons, but may want some of the babies..not sure yet..and then...
Saturday: Early afternoon, a family is coming out to pick out 1-2 guinea pigs.
SO, the rest of my week is pretty much full of guinea pig related activities! (Not including feeding, cage cleaning, cuddles, and the rest of the stuff we already do around here!)
AND, with the arrival of "Bert and Ernie" tonight, we have officially reached the 100 guinea pig mark! It wasn't a "goal," I just knew at the rate we were going that we would definitely reach this point by or before the end of the year. I am blessed to have had the chance to help out so many animals. My goal for 2010 is to FINALLY get my nonprofit paperwork filed; in fact, I'd like to do it before December 31.
I will post pictures of Bert and Ernie after they have some time to settle in; they will most likely not be put up for adoption because their original owners sent them to a shelter where they got stuck for two months before a friend of mine took them and then passed them on to me. They are both adorable and very calm, despite the circumstances, and I wouldn't feel right bouncing them on to yet another home.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Look Back at 2009

I realize the holidays are a busy time, so for the next few weeks, I will probably post every other day, and although I still have some young guinea pigs for adoption, I feel it's better to wait until everyone has more time and is more relaxed before I start the adoption "push" again!
Going over my records, I see that 2009 was a fantastic year for adoptions. In 2008, when we became a rescue, we adopted out 11 guinea pigs; this year, we adopted out 48! In the last six years we have taken in 98 total, and when our babies arrive next week, that will push us well over the 100 mark, which is pretty much what I expected. Although many people wanted to get guinea pigs for their families this holiday season, many others gave them up. I've seen quite a few on Craigslist lately, and I usually contact folks who need new homes for their guinea pigs, but in the last couple weeks I haven't heard anything. All I can hope is that these animals find their new forever homes, whether or not they end up here.
Also in 2009, we only said one final farewell when Wally suddenly passed away. I have some real old-timers here, and fortunately they continue to hang in there. My two oldest, Moe and Joe (a father/son pair of teddies) are losing more of their hair as they age. These days they just like to hang out in their igloo and chat with their "neighbors," Buttercup and Prescott. Prescott went through another 8-day round of foot-soaking, and it will be at least another week or two before his second foot heals completely. He's a real trooper and accepts his treaments pretty calmly. Rodney and Buttons are getting along wonderfully after being placed together; I haven't heard any fighting, though they are both still pretty shy.
So, I will continue to post pics of new arrivals and keep everyone updated on our goings-on here. My Christmas shopping is all done (my husband Ryan's, however, is not..ha ha!), so I am going to give all my furries some extra love and gear up for Christmas Day!

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Arrivals Next Week!

Guess what? We're expecting! Well, not exactly...someone got two guinea pigs from a pet store, and were told they were both females, and they weren't, soooooo...the five babies are now almost two weeks old, and all five will be coming here next Friday. The owners decided to keep the mom and dad, BUT there is a possibility the mom is pregnant AGAIN, so more pups may be in our future. (See why I posted that previous thing about gestation, mating, etc.?)
Anyway, if someone is out there looking for baby guinea pigs, I will have some soon...and possibly more in February. Of course, any that do not get adopted from me will stay here, but after I post pics of these cute little guys, who can resist??? :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Guinea Pig Babies

If you house a male and female guinea pig together, they WILL breed. A female's gestation period is about 70 days; babies ("pups") come out ready to go, with all their fur and the ability to eat solid food from day one. They are usually weaned at 4-5 weeks, but male offspring can impregnate the mom at THREE weeks of age. In addition, if the father and mother are not separated when you know she is pregnant, she will go into "postpartum estrus" for 2-14 hours IMMEDIATELY after birth, and if she is with a male there is an 80 percent chance she will get pregnant AGAIN.
Never take the word of a pet store if that's where you get your piggies. I learned to tell the difference between male vs. female at (see link at left). ALWAYS sex two guinea pigs before putting them together, or you will have more than you counted on!
Why do I bring this up? Might be getting some babies soon...details later! :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Do People Give Up Their Guinea Pigs?

Someone once asked me, "Do guinea pigs need rescuing?" Well, sometimes. Just as with cats or dogs, there are situations in which the life of the animal is in danger, and it must be given a safe home. And again, as with dogs and cats, the reasons people give up their guinea pigs are the same. They include (but are not limited to) the following:
1. Not enough time.
2. Not enough money/lost job, etc.
3. Kids won't take care of them.
4. Too messy.
5. Too loud.
6. Bit someone.
7. Moving.
8. Allergies.
9. Accidental litter.
Because I am a rescue, I often ask people for a specific reason as to WHY they are getting rid of their pet. I need to know this so that if the guinea pig is still adoptable, I can explain everything to potential new owners and provide any information that will make the adoption and transition into a new home as easy as possible.

Coming Under Fire

Every once in a while, I get negative comments about what I do as a guinea pig rescue. This usually happens when I find someone looking to rehome their guinea pig(s), and I offer the rescue as a "last resort," in case they DON'T find a good home. Some folks are actually offended by this, saying their pets don't need to be "rescued." What they don't understand is that "rescue" is an alternative to placing a pet in a shelter. The vast majority of my guinea pigs came from people who were just trying to find them a new home; most of them were well-cared for before they came here. They were given up because of a lack of time, money, attention, etc.
Anyway, I wanted to let everyone who sees this site know what I am NOT.
1. First and foremost, I am NOT a breeder, period. There are plenty of guinea pigs out there who need homes without me having to breed more to adopt out.
2. I am not a guinea pig "seller." I do not even ATTEMPT to make money on my adoptions.
3. I am not a guinea pig "collector." Collectors (or hoarders) scoop up animals from anywhere and anyone, then keep them because it's "cool" to keep exotic animals, or untold numbers of cats or dogs. My greatest concern is always the welfare of the animal. I do not "collect" them. I DO adopt some to new homes, but many of my current guinea pigs are too old, sick or traumatized to go to new homes.
I am always open to questions, and anyone who wants to see my farm or my animals can make an appointment to come out and do so. I also have a VERY long list of references, both personal and via the rescue, which I am willing to provide at any time. And anytime you wonder what I "do" with my guinea pigs, go to the top of the website and read my mission statement.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Website/Online Store!

I just heard from Amy Chase, who just opened an online store that sells snuggly products that guinea pigs love! It's at Amy has seven rescue piggies of her own, so I told her that I would post the name of her site here.
I am still slowly figuring out the blog thing, so I will try to post a section with links to sites like Amy's. Cavy Spirit is excellent, but there are soooo many more out there with all kinds of products and information.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Adopted! Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour, my two youngest girls, just left for their new home, as a birthday present for a little girl. The family had been discussing getting a guinea pig for months, and they did their research before coming to me to adopt.
Several more people are coming out this weekend to see who's still here, so more adoptions are in the near future! I will keep everyone posted!