Recently our last guinea pig Daniel passed on at the grand old age of seven.
Eleanor had wanted a cat like her friends Karis and Kirsten (their Mum's called Kerry) but because we had a dog that was not an option so we got some guinea pigs and Eleanor called one of them Misty like the covetted cat. Guinea pigs, even two of them, are probably a poor second to a cat, but she looks very happy to be getting them here on her fourth birthday, and these are not even pedigree guinea pigs as you can see. Misty is not pictured as he was the shy one. When Eleanor took one of her pigs into school she decided that Daniel would be the best bet for the same reason.
As it was winter and they were babies we kept them inside all winter in this hutch. They had had a narrow escape at the pet shop as they had come down with something but the animal-loving student who worked there had kept them alive hand feeding and had paid for the veterinary treatment herself, and was glad they were going to a good home.
I cannot abide the way rabbits are treated by some people and imprisoned in a hutch, and our guinea pigs have always had a lot of freedom, which probably accounts for their longeivity, in fact I'm sure it does. This coupled with the fact they have been fed on select weeds collected on my dog walks, the vegetable left-overs of Christmas dinners and so on. I will always remember the first time we took them out of the hutch and let them run about and Daniel the guinea pig manically whizzed round and round in circles, jumped in the air and generally went crazy while we laughed- he had tasted freedom. (I remember my Mum and Dad's dog did this too when she was bought from from the Blue Cross.) We did have to take them outside eventually as they had a tendency to knaw our wood furniture. The kids used to carry them about inside on terry nappies.
Although eventually most of the looking after was left to me, Eleanor still remained interested in her pets, and used to walk them up and down on red guinea pig leads and she and Holly used to carry them about in their handbags.