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How to Keep a Guinea Pig Alive for 144 Hours


Today is a day for celebration, people! String up the piƱata and put out a tray of cocktail weenies, because we have managed to keep Boomer alive for six days. Boomer is my daughter's preschool mascot, a brown and white guinea pig who has been living with us for the past week.

I'm just so happy that he survived his time at our house, as I was sure he was going to get overfed (Grace is 3), underfed (I am lazy), overchewed (we have a dog) or over-smashed (William is 1). I observed our triumph this morning by giving Boomer few extra apple slices. Grace celebrated with a screaming tantrum because we had to return him to school.

There is a sign-up calendar next to Boomer's cage at school, and it fills up quickly. I signed up for this November slot back in September, and thanks to Grace's schedule and an inconveniently placed teacher's professional day, our weekend got extended a bit. I learned a lot about guinea pigs during the occupation, like:

They like to make cute and undeniable squeaking noises right when you're trying to convince your 3-year-old that it's time to go to bed and not play with the guinea pig anymore.

When the house is quiet and you're trying to enjoy some time on the couch with your spouse, they really like to bite on the cage until you get up and give them a piece of broccoli.

Guinea pigs are not afraid of West Highland Terriers, nor are West Highland Terriers afraid of guinea pigs. However, the scent of a guinea pig is like crack cocaine to a West Highland Terrier, and said terrier simply will not stop sniffing the guinea pig until it's back in its cage, no matter how often said terrier is threatened and/or told to go away.

I also leaned that guinea pigs can both cause nightmares and reverse their effects, all in the same evening! I described Boomer to a friend of mine as a "loaf of bread that breathes," since he didn't really do a whole heck of a lot (the guinea pig, not my friend). A few days later I received a message from my friend describing a nightmare that his daughter had had about, interestingly enough, a guinea pig that was "...biting my knee." He told her that Dave's daughter Grace had a guinea pig at her house that was just like "a fluffy loaf of bread." She laughed and went back to sleep. They're magical, I tell you!

When I was a lad, we didn't have pets in preschool. I remember bringing home an ashtray I made out of clay for my mother that weighed about 11 lbs. Imagine kids making an ashtray in school today. Actually, now that I think about it, I believe I dropped the ashtray on the way home and it smashed on the ground.

Maybe it's a good thing we didn't have pets.