04.23.10

Meet Valor

Posted in intakes at 6:00 am by Jenn

valorValor’s story, as so many, starts off with an email.

We have a young 4-5 m.o. male guinea pig we named Toffee (for his lovely color) we bought as a companion to our beloved Snuffy (also male).  They get along OK, but Toffee and I (human owner!) don’t really get along.  He is very restless, and squeaks constantly.  He doesn’t seem to be very happy.  I think he might need to be with a larger group or maybe a different owner.  We looked at a list of local shelters offering guinea pigs and found one named LEAF from Morrisville.  We thought Leaf might be a good companion for Snuffy and a nice pet for us.   I’d like to offer an exchange.  Would this be possible?  I’m also open to other male guinea pigs if Leaf is taken.

We were pretty flabbergasted — Toffee was a young guinea pig.  Young guinea pigs, by definition, are loud, restless, squeaky, and (dare I say it?) can be pretty obnoxious to deal with.  It’s one of our primary educational points when people want baby guinea pigs.  They will not be cuddly, friendly companions!  They are like toddlers who have eaten an entire candy store worth of chocolate and will constantly run, scream, bounce, and squabble with each other until they mature into adults who are too lazy to bother with such antics.

It’s one thing to try another partner when your two pigs aren’t getting along, but realistically trading an even younger, more reactive, louder, and more restless guinea pig for one which was already causing dissatisfaction was unlikely to help the situation.  We wrote to her, described the personality of young pigs, and recommended that she persevere with Toffee and he would (over time) become calmer and more affectionate as he became used to her and aged out of the terrible teens.  This was especially important because the guinea pigs were bonded, and often reacted poorly to being torn apart from their herd.

The following Monday, we were contacted by one of the local shelters who said they had a young male guinea pig.  Not unusual — the shelters are full to bursting with all kinds of small animal right now.  We said that we’d take him and arranged a pickup.  They sent back pictures letting us know that his name was “Toffee”, and that he was five months old.  His owner surrendered him because he didn’t get along with her guinea pig and he was a show pig.  Toffee had been abandoned.

When Toffee arrived to foster, our hearts broke.  Toffee wasn’t “restless” and “squeaky”.  Toffee was terrified out of his little mind.  He stood in his quarantine cage, legs trembling, as he cried softly to himself.  I’d never seen such a scared guinea pig (and guinea pig owners will realize what a feat this is — they’re timid animals by nature!)  Finally he gathered up all his courage and dashed into his hidey house, not to be seen for the rest of the night.

Over the past few days, Toffee (now Valor — we felt like he needed a little confidence boost!) has slowly come out of his shell.  Though he is still very scared by the hands which enter the cage, he’s brave enough to come up to the side of the cage to see what’s going on, and has started begging us for veggies like a normal guinea pig.  Still wiggly in laps, he’s slowly learning that people aren’t big scary monsters and that there’s really no need to skitter off and hide from them.

In addition to being a scaredy-pig, Valor has another obstacle to overcome.  He is a satin guinea pig.  The satin coat (which is especially shiny and has an unusual sheen) is genetically linked to a condition known as osteodystrophy.  Our own Picadilly (also a satin) dealt with this problem.  Basically the bones of these guinea pigs can start breaking down from the inside.  Typically, these guinea pigs will need to be monitored with x-rays (so that the bone loss is caught in a timely manner) and then afterward treated with calcium supplements and a special light to help them absorb it, and pain medication as needed since the pigs often become sore and almost “arthritic”.

Valor is available for adoption and is looking for the perfect home!

1 Comment

  1. Celia said,

    April 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Poor little Valor, you are the lucky one! This story makes me worry for little “beloved” Snuffy and I wonder if he is suffering from a broken heart over the loss of his companion!.

    Little Valor, you are a beautiful little boy. So sorry that your beauty has come with such a high price. But don’t worry, you are in the best human hands possible and the good ACRS humans will do everything in their power to find you a “happily ever after” home. They have a long track record when it comes to making dreams come true.