Welcome to Gnome on the Range or, more fondly, Gnome de Plume.
It’s my day off and I should be doing something fun, like maybe putting away Christmas decorations or doing dishes. Instead, I am once again force feeding the guinea pig.
Chico has been our special project for about 10 months now. My niece asked us to take him and, being animal lovers who can’t resist a mammal in need, we agreed.
About a month later, he got mites. $188 to cure that issue.
Five months later, he stopped eating and drinking. $280 to diagnose an ear infection, get medication and special food we had to force feed him. Oh yeah, we missed my friend’s wedding too because he had to be fed three times a day and I didn’t think we could sneak a guinea pig first into the hotel and then maybe into the wedding reception.
Don’t get me wrong…I love Chico. He is now part of our family, which includes two dogs, a cat, me and my fiance, Dan. I would do whatever I can within my physical and financial power to make sure he’s okay. But every now and then this one evil thought goes through my mind:
I can buy a new guinea pig for $35.99 from Petsmart.
If you have never owned a guinea pig, please consider these things before you take one in. First, they have very specific nutritional needs, including expensive daily vitamin C tablets. Total cost per month to feed one guinea pig: approximately $20. It may not seem like a lot but tack that on to the dog and cat food bill, it adds up.
Secondly, that really cheap cage they sell you with your new guinea pig? NOT BIG ENOUGH! You can make an adequate one for about $50 in materials or if you get lucky, find one on sale for $65.99 like Dan did.
You can’t expect your guinea pig to spend all his time in that guinea pig condo, can you? He needs a mode of transportation to get out and about so there is the super-size rodent ball for $19.99. Of course when Chico gets into his, he just sits there. And sits there. And poops.
Oh, and let’s not forget that guinea pigs like to have a quiet dark place to hide so in addition to that condo with a loft also known as his cage, Chico has a plastic igloo. Now I don’t know the actual cost of this item since his came with him from his previous owner but Chico is HUGE! He has outgrown his igloo and now needs the double-wide model. I’ve been avoiding pricing them in hopes that his new year’s resolution is to drop a few grams but I know it’s futile. Petsmart, you have me in your grips.
On our first trip to the exotic animal vet, we learned from another guinea pig owner that the cardboard carrier we had him in would incur the wrath of pig-fanatics if they were to see it. So we had to buy a special carrier for him for $14.99. He’s outgrown that one too. I think we will have to get a hard-sided cat carrier for him now. $24.99. Ka-ching.
All I can say is thank goodness Chico’s last illness provided some leftover medication so we can try to nurse this ailment with what we already have.
Still when I look into his beady little red eyes and know that he is feeling better, I get that priceless feeling of knowing I did something good today.
Rock on, Chico.