Until last week, my air conditioner had been broken for a month. No big deal this time of year in Miami. I just opened the windows. But the cause of the malfunction and the effect of a return in central air circulation have been eye-opening—in a way that, strangely, involves my pets.

Turns out the goats love following an amused meter man as he makes the rounds of my house. They love poking around areas wherever any human has been displaying a concerted interest. This time they disconnected all the wires to the AC, leaving everything in a jumble and risking serious 220-variety electrocution.

In the wake of this new goat fiasco I’ve got the fence guy coming out next week to cordon off the AC and electrical panel. Damn, these goats are expensive!

The other bit of trouble is far more serious in a long-term way (if anything can be said to be more serious than a lethal dose of electricity). It involves the guinea pigs.

I’ve already blogged here about my guinea pigs and their ability to inflict more allergic repercussions in my household than any other creature currently living there. I’m crazy allergic to them. I have to wear long sleeves and a mask when I play with them.

To clean them I have to take the entire cage outside (it’s a big one) lest I end up calling 911 for a serious asthma crisis. (Nothing else in the world has ever provoked asthma-like symptoms in me.)

Now, ever since the AC got working again I’ve been feeling this tightness in my chest while I’m at home. At first I thought I was simply coming down with a flu—it being flu season and all that. But when I started to clean the guinea pigs’ home over the weekend it hit me:

This is what’s getting to me. The sudden increase in circulation of allergenic particles must have rapidly induced my asthmatic state. Indeed, after being exposed to their bedding for five minutes I was wheezing and short of breath. I had to stop. Afterwards, my throat itched like mad and my lips were swollen for hours.

Monday’s visit with my son’s allergist sealed the deal: His breathing capacity had plummeted since the last visit a couple of months ago. In fact, they had bee declining steadily since the introduction of the guinea pigs but we’d been loath to pin the damage on them.

Now it seems we have no choice. The pigs must go. But where?

Guinea pigs are not easy to place. One of my pigs is “handicapped,” even. How can you possibly place a guinea pig whose spastic neurological condition causes her to bite at times? (Sometimes she gets very stressed when she can’t right herself.)

My son took the news well. Probably that’s because we’d been discussing it for months, now. And, truth be told, because the pigs are far more mine than they are his. The love of his life is Vincent (my young Frenchie male), the others are much more my domain.

My poor pigs. Today they’re getting a new temporary home out in the goat shed. I just can’t breathe anymore inside my house. While I’m waiting for the right home to materialize, I’ll have to bring them inside when it gets cold and pay someone to clean them. What else can I do?

Much as we know that our pets have the propensity to cause damage to our homes—and even to our health sometimes—taking them on means doing whatever we can to responsibly care for them.

If it means buying new fencing and rewiring the house, I’ll do it. If it means building them a new enclosure, I’ll do it. If it means finding someone else to take them on because they make my family sick, well…I’ll have to do it.

It’s only that I wish there were another way…