Friday, January 17, 2014

Gold Plated Pig

Meet Fergus.  He's lovely - he's about 3 months old and very sweet natured. He is the fulfillment of a promise made over a year ago that yes, we could get a guinea pig.   Actually he was supposed to be a rabbit but it turns out that the ten year old is not made for rabbit ownership.  When we went to the bunny rescue center, she broke out in hives about fifteen minutes after arriving.  Hay turned out to be the culprit and hay and bunnies seem to go hand in hand.  Guinea pigs also need hay but can manage on the small, compressed cubes of hay that seem not to trigger allergies. Excellent - pig it is.

Fergus came on Christmas Day and fulfilled the 'puppy in a wrapped box' fantasy of many a childhood (including mine.)   We all fell hard.  He popcorned around the floor delighting us with his youthful exuberance, was happy to be held by us all and purred away when we stroked him. The. Perfect. Pet.


I hate that there is an until.  Why does there have to be an until?  We noticed a pink streak on his glossy white fur.  On inspection it appeared to be blood.  I checked the kids first - no injuries noted - I moved onto the pig.  There under his fur was an area of raised, irritated skin which I presumed he had scratched until it bled.  Hmmm.  The internet very helpfully provided a long list of dire scenarios with photos too grotesque to stomach.  It also pointed out that guinea pigs are prone to feel stress, which leads to itchy skin, and so we chalked up his over enthusiastic scratching to the change in his environment in coming to live with us.


I hate that there is a then.  Why does there have to be an then?  His nose developed a bald spot which then started to look nasty.  Sigh.  Something was definitely wrong.  We needed a vet.  The husband and I discussed the vet.  We were undoubtedly attached to this pig and did not want him to suffer but we are also on a budget and vet = $$$'s.  We called the vet - $60 for a comprehensive consultation.  Assuming there is a need for some kind of skin cream - maybe another $20?  We agreed we had $80 for Fergus. $80 and no more.

The husband set off, pig in box.  He texted within ten minutes.  They needed to a skin test - it was $40.
We upped the 'no more' to $120.  The vets office was very nice, reported the husband, and he was sipping a lovely hazelnut latte they had made him.  I mentally calculated a cost reduction of $3.75 from our 'no more' total.  

The final bill was $259.  Fergus had blown a week's food budget three days after arriving in our home.
The husband and I agreed not to talk about how 'no more' had come out to $259 - which we paid.
What else could we do?  He was our first real pet - I have goldfish guilt over those words but the girls agree that a real pet can be held - I can't really argue with that, much as I enjoy our fish.
How could we not care for him? So little, so sweet and already a family member - but $259??? 

Treatment completed and all healed up, we now like to call him the gold plated pig.  He is, at least, a healthy gold plated pig.


  1. We are so done with pets for this reason. He's very cute though.

  2. Love this, Joy! So poignant and hilarious (especially with the non-dire outcome, except for your bottom line). Brought back fond memories of our girls' guinea pigs--Peanut, who unfortunately succumbed when the housesitter fed him the rat's food (the rat was fine on guinea pig chow), and Teddy, ugly as a bristle brush but all the more endearing (only ugly guinea pig in the world). But do not let me veer into associations to Peruvian cuisine--and certainly don't tell your girls!


Leave me a comment.