Almost two years ago, my 8-year-old daughter, then 6, begged us to adopt the guinea pigs that had been in her classroom.
The first-grade teacher even offered us the cage, food and bedding. I refused until my daughter’s eyes streamed tears. “But mommy, I promise that I will feed them everyday, clean the cage and play with them,” she told me.
I agreed, even visiting the school one chilly morning to pick up the rodents.
The way this story ends is probably predictable. The honeymoon between my daughter and her guinea pigs was brief, and after 21 months, I’m giving the pets up for adoption.
However, I still remember visiting my daughter’s first-grade classroom and spotting a large cage containing the two guinea pigs — one black and white and the other brown and white. “Eek!” I thought.
The black-and-white guinea pig squealed at me. That was Marty, the brave guinea pig who always twitches his nose. The brown guinea pig, Alvin, ran nervously underneath a plastic platform, a habit he still practices.
“What have I gotten myself into,” I muttered.
The children in my daughter’s class could not say “goodbye” because they were not in the classroom at the time. But once my daughter stepped off of her school bus and saw the guinea pigs in the garage, she laughed and ran to greet them.
It all seemed to be the perfect scenario and for a couple of weeks, she cared for them.
But soon the cage became dirty, the water bottle went unchanged and the feeding cup was not filled.
Her excuses ranged from not wanting to smell the stinky cage because it made her sneeze, to being afraid that the more aggressive Marty might bite her. He never did.
Her response was exactly why I hesitated in the first place to the adopt the pets. My daughter had become bored and unattached to her pets, leaving me to take charge of them just weeks after adopting them.
Some 21 months since the adoption, these furry, sometimes noisy, yet lovable pets who squeak, purr and whistle are awaiting a new home.
I am throwing in the towel. A few weeks ago, I contacted a high school student volunteer at an area animal rescue group. He is searching for their new home.
I thought my children would be a little sad. They were not. I am. I learned a lot about my pets, Marty and Alvin, or “the pigs,” as I sometimes call them.
I can interpret whether they are squealing for a carrot stick treat or whether they are begging for a bit of extra attention.
And while guinea pigs are sweet pets, they do require upkeep. My daughter was neither ready, nor responsible enough for the task.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.