i own guinea pigs. seven of them now, mostly rescues. they come from all types of places, but mostly from places where they were in bad shape or had no future. a year ago i barely knew anything about them but Kay got me into them. before long i had one. two. three. four. five. six. seven. just that fast it seems. went from a single large cage to a six foot tall custom C&C cage that takes up a fourth of the living room. for some reason, i am perfectly ok with that. for the most part they are simple and dumb creatures that can no longer survive on their own. they have been domesticated as long as, if not longer than, cats. they now take a considerable amount of time each day, preparing vegetables twice a day, spot cleaning the cage, filling water, giving them food, providing hay and interacting with them. on most days they get out of the cage into a play pen on the floor and get to run around. being simple creatures, changing up the play pen or their cage by re-arranging stuff or introducing new items to either does wonders to stimulate them. they are touch-me-not creatures, hate to be held, and show no signs of affection toward each other, let alone me. despite that, i love them dearly and believe deep down that by rescuing and caring for them, i am righting a speck of wrong-doing on the part of humanity and our history for obstructing nature. the least i can do is to provide them the absolute best life possible. if it means my living room is always a mess or that i skip a few nice meals so i can buy them the veggies they need and want, so be it. simple creatures or not, they would not be in the general predicament had it not been for meddling humans.
it’s hard being here all day every day near them. while i love watching them and talking to them, i am present for every cough or odd noise they make. every troubled wheek, every sign of discomfort, i hear it. a few of them are older pigs and are likely not going to be here a year from now. even Waffle who was adopted early on has an ongoing problem with congestion (for lack of better words). she gets over it quick but in a guinea pig, that type of respiratory distress can be fatal. i dread the day when one of them decides to move on. until then, they deserve to be happy.
at some point recently, Kay asked me what animal ever benefited from our domesticating them. i thought long and hard and the only time i could come up with an answer was directly due to my ignorance of the animal and their history. the more i thought about it the more i realized that question was a great fundamental eye opener to anyone who was under some impression that animals were better off as pets. if given the choice, i don’t think i would change anything about the pets i have or will have. the only difference is that now, i completely and fully understand that it is entirely selfish, not because the animal benefits from it. hell, we feed our cats a diet of carbohydrate rich pellets that are about as far from their natural diet as you can possibly get. yes, the cats live a long time on that diet, but they aren’t necessarily happy or healthier as a result. the proper diet consists of food from boutique pet stores and fetch prices that most people can’t afford, so we fall back on really horrible foods that turn cats into slugs.