On October 3, 2003, at approximately four months old, Pippi came
to live with our family. When I saw her in the pet store, she immediately
my eye with her fuzzy fur (like Scruffles) and red
eyes. She and Scruffles are both teddies. Pippi
was very active when I first saw her, energetically leaping around the cage,
her sleeping cagemate, and squealing almost constantly. It took 3 days to get
a reliable verification of her sex from a pet store employee, so that she could
eventually live with Scruffles and
Piggles. Finally, I talked to someone that assured
me (and proved it by showing me a male guinea pig in comparison) that Pippi
was definitely female. So I brought her home at last. Of course, I knew I needed
to keep her separated initially from Piggles and
Scruffles, until I knew she was free of health
Pippi was given her name for two reasons. First of all, I always
enjoyed reading Pippi Longstocking as a child. Secondly, Pippi seems like a good
nickname for a pipsqueak, which she surely is, compared to our 3-year-old pigs.
My husband thinks she was misnamed and should be called Squeaky, as she is the
noisiest guinea pig we've ever heard!
When I put her in her cage, the first thing Pippi did was run
into the house and stay there, mute, for an hour. This, as we soon discovered,
was the longest time she would ever be silent!
The next morning, I put Pippi in a fenced-in play area on the
floor and watched her run around excitedly. She squealed so loudly that I decided
to record her on my computer. Whenever I played it back, she got really excited
and squeaked and squealed as loudly as she could. I think she was calling out
to what she thought was another guinea pig!
Pippi knew there were other guinea pigs in the house and it broke
our hearts the way she kept squealing for their company, but bringing them
close enough for them to see each other just made her want to be with them
more. Poor Pippi had to wait an entire weekend until we could have her health
(and sex) verified by our vet.
Finally on Monday, 3 days after Pippi's arrival, she had her
first visit to the vet. Given a clean bill of health, it was time to introduce
her to the "big pigs" in the house, Scruffles
and Piggles. Pippi was so excited about this. She'd
heard and even seen the other two at a short distance away, but wasn't allowed
any contact until we were certain she was perfectly healthy.
First I brought Scruffles into the
neutral area, the run-around pen on the floor, to meet the new pig. Pippi followed
her around and around and around, never letting Scruffles
out of her sight. After about five minutes, I wasn't sure if Scruffles
was getting tired of her "shadow," so I took her out and put her back
home. Well, Pippi let out the loudest shrieks I have ever heard! How dare she
be left alone!
So naturally, it was Piggles' turn
to meet the new baby. There were several more rounds of what we fondly like to
call "follow the butt." After Piggles became
somewhat frazzled by the newcomer's boundless energy, I gave her a break and took
her back home, much to Pippi's disappointment. This occurred throughout the day,
both in Pippi's surroundings and in Scruffles' and
Piggles' home. I noticed some aggression in their home
by Scruffles, especially, so I had to keep a sharp
eye at all times for Pippi's safety. It took a while to settle the baby in her
own cage at night, though her cage was now located near the others'.
The second day of socializing among the old and new went even
better. I had noticed on the first day that Piggles
had bonded more easily with the newcomer, checking on her every time the baby
whimpered or squealed. Then the next day,
Scruffles also developed a concerned attitude
towards Pippi. I made a little cage connection between the huge
Cubes & Coroplast Cage and a small run-around
pen so they could visit each other. They enjoyed going between the connecting
cage and pen areas and followed each other around for hours. Then if they
seemed to need a little space from the baby, I could block the "gate"
and let them each have some time in their own space.
The main problem of adjustment was that the two older pigs like
to sleep more than Pippi, who takes tiny "catnaps" and then is ready
to "fly" around the cage again, doing dozens upon dozens of piggy laps.
Well, a noisy, pestering little one can bring out the ire in a couple of tired
old pigs, and needless to say, there were consequences to her hyperactive behavior.
A few times, I saw Pippi shriek in terror and dash out from under a box where
a sleepy pig was lying. However, she did not seem upset afterwards, as she went
right back over to the now-awake pig to play. I think Scruffles
and Piggles had to teach Pippi how to respect their
sleeping patterns. In other words, she must let sleeping pigs lie!
Nighttime on the second day was a little dicey, since Pippi
couldn't seem to settle down and the older pigs were getting grouchier by
the second. At one point, Pippi was backed into a corner by Scruffles and
later by Piggles. I thought Pippi was starting to settle down there, but
the older pigs did something to make her squeal and try to squeeze herself
behind the houses to escape from them, so finally, I removed Pippi to her
own cage for the night.
On the third morning, Pippi was anxious to go back with the others,
and they seemed happy to see her. From that point on, she was an accepted member
of their group. She seemed to have calmed down a bit and even started napping
lazily like her Aunt Piggles and Aunt Scruffles. She also had learned by this
point not to disturb them at certain times, and they enjoyed having another friend
to play with. All was well in Piggyland!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
July 21-23, 2009 - Pippi was the victim of a Flystrike, something we had never heard of before. As a result, she developed gangrene. We appreciate everything the vets did to save her. Pippi tried to fight the damage to her body, but in the end we were unable to save her, and she had to be euthanized.
Pippi lived to just over 6 years old, which was pretty amazing. Her whole six years, she reigned as queen of the herd, despite her petite size. We will miss her for her odd biting fetish - she loved to eat anything fuzzy, which consisted of other guinea pigs' fur (just ask Snowball why he had no butt-fur his entire life), the soft houses I created using fleece, felt and furry materials, blankets we cuddled her in, that little tuft of toilet paper stuck to the empty tube, and many other things. Her favorite treat was apple, which she begged for every single night at dinner time by biting the bars of the cage. (How will we ever remember to feed apples to the remaining piggies now?) We loved her longest and we loved her best. R.I.P., Pippi!