After this weekend's gravitas, I thought I’d offer you some light fare on the topic of something sweet and hopeful.

 

Yes, I keep a Guinea pig. Her name is Apfel (means “apple” in German, after her round physique) and she’s been living with us for a couple of weeks, during which time I’ve been stressing out about my son’s allergies (Guinea pigs are NOT hypoallergenic).

 

Thankfully, my son’s respiratory symptoms appear to have remained at bay, meaning I can keep the cute creature I inherited after a Telemundo shoot (ironically, the segment treated the issue of what pets make not so ideal first pets).

 

Ill-suited though I thought she’d be to our multi-pet household’s burdens, this cutie has bored her way into my domicile’s soul with a strange cleverness and a demanding, spritely spirit.

 

I always imagined a Guinea pig to be a less-than-interesting pet. Frankly, I’d planned on re-homing her quickly after taking her off the hands of a misguided TV producer (who thought nothing of purchasing the Petco critter for a five-minute segment). But this pet’s a keeper.

 

Why?

 

She squeaks for me when I come home, demanding I feed her treats and roughage. She plays hide-and-seek with Vincent, tormenting him playfully. And she tolerates Sophie’s snuffles—in her ears. What more could I ask for? OK, so I’d like her toenails a little less sharp and pinchy, but she’s otherwise a fun pet to play and cuddle with—and an even more entertaining pet to watch.

 

Because I placed her enclosure strategically so that I might enjoy her scurryings while I ride my trainer-mounted road bike, I’m able to interact with her daily for reasonably long stints. We talk in squeaks to one another as the bike’s back wheel whistles tunefully in her direction.  She munches happily on the timothy and alfalfa she appropriates from the goats’ stash throughout the session.

 

Though she’s fairly messy and requires lots of bedding changes, she’s mostly an easy keeper. I still might not recommend this kind of pet to a novice owner (I fear they’d so quickly be ignored and discarded as hawk-bait), but I can’t help but remain surprised by the personality display Apfel manages in spite of her diminutive dimensions and pea-brain.

 

That’s why I worry that I can’t keep her sufficiently entertained or happily kept. Perhaps the small rodent keepers out there can help me make her life more interesting with recommendations for her nibbling, scurrying and in-cage pleasures.

 

 

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