Wednesday, August 6, 2008

For the love of Twix (a.k.a. our faithful guinea pig)

There are people who like animals and then there are people who REALLY like animals. My daughter is the latter, and even though I don’t share her level of enthusiasm for God’s little creatures, I can’t help but love her for it.

She can’t pass by a stray or injured animal of any kind. No matter how small, how homely or how much they don’t want to be helped, we’ve rescued them. This mom, who likes animals from a distance, has gotten up close and personal with an array of insects, including walking sticks and preying mantis. I’ve plucked kittens out of drains and braked for bunnies, foxes, deer, armadillo and many, many turtles, including a river cooter, which we released into the Chattahoochee River with much fanfare.

My daughter has sold countless cups of lemonade to benefit the local Humane Society (thanks, neighbors!), and she faithfully donates half of her pet-sitting profits to the care of unwanted animals, including paying for heart worm medication in hopes they will live long enough to need it.

So, last year when I found out her classroom had guinea pigs, I knew I’d be in trouble. Each day I would hear how cute they were, how smart, what personality they had, how easy they were to care for.

“Uh huh,” I said, feeling set-up.

Then a few weeks before Christmas, her teacher pulled me aside and said, “You know your daughter REALLY likes the guinea pigs.”

Needless to say, we now own one. My daughter showed the lady in the pet store the one she wanted. The saleslady took him out of the cage and flung him at me. He stuck like Velcro. My daughter named him Twix after the candy bar because of his coloring, not because we plan to eat him later. They are social creatures, but at $35 a piece, Twix is still solo, plus we are waiting on the classroom critters to have babies.

A few weeks later, my daughter approached me and tentatively said, “We need to cut Twix’s nails.”

I don’t even do my own nails, but I have now given a guinea pig a manicure. And I must say I don’t know who was more frightened.

Twix has become quite the character. When I tuck my daughter in at night, sometimes he is on her bed “dancing,” or walking with his leash, or curled up in her arms. He even wrote her a note while she was away at camp.

Today, she came downstairs and said in a concerned voice, “Twix has some blisters on his feet.”

After some Internet research, I’ve determined he has a condition called Bumblefoot. There is a home remedy, but I’d better call a professional on this one. As I put the guinea pig on his leash and prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on his care, I realized, my daughter is ever so slowly turning me into someone who REALLY likes animals.

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