My Sheila Blog
How I Ended Up With a Sixth Guinea Pig
Feb 9, 2008 – I first noticed Sheila in our local pet store. She and her brother are the first Texels that I've seen for sale in this area. I've always wanted a Texel with their long, curly fur. So adorable! But I already have five pigs and I promised my husband that they were it – no more.
Feb 10 – I couldn't stop thinking about Sheila all day. After all, she is just a baby and she won't take up much space. We have this really huge cage, and she is so adorable! I really, really want to get her!
Feb 11 – Okay, I can't take it anymore. I just HAD to go to the pet store and bring Sheila home. I was so glad that no one else had snapped her up. Yay – she is going to be mine! According to her age listed on the sign (5 weeks as of Feb 5), she was born on New Year's Day!
Made an appointment to take Sheila to the vet on Feb 18. Until then she can't get too close to the other pigs. Once she is deemed healthy and female, she can be introduced to the herd.
Morning: the only evidence that Sheila left the safety of her house at all is two little poops and a small disturbance in her food dish indicating that she possibly left the safety of her house to eat something.
Afternoon: My older son says he saw Sheila out eating hay and pellets and drinking water for a little while (until it was no longer safe 'cuz she noticed someone looking at her). She went into the corner near the food dish, keeping close to the corner for safety purposes, reaching out in short spurts to grab a pellet of food and then quickly slunk back into the corner to enjoy it.
Evening: Sheila was very well behaved while I searched all over her fur for bugs, while letting her squish her head into a blanket to hide (security blanket, I guess). Results: Inconclusive (possible signs of lice, but I did not see any movement).
Morning: Sheila ate a huge dandelion in only a few minutes. She LOVES dandelions!
Afternoon: Sheila is feeling more comfortable. She ate an entire dandelion green in front of me, well, as I watched from a safe distance. And when I talk to her, she looks right at me now, instead trying to look into a corner or away from me.
Evening: We introduced her to Pippi at a close, but not touching, distance. They began to talk softly to each other.
Morning: As an experiment, I removed Sheila's house for a short while. At first, she seemed nervous and looked for a hiding place, which turned out to be between the water bottle and a pile of hay. A minute later, she was moving around the cage, happily chortling and nibbling at her food and getting frequent drinks. She became more animated out in the open, which was interesting. I left her like that for a while and could hear her talking away as I sat across the room eating breakfast. Later, before I left for my morning walk, she seemed glad to get her house back – she was probably tired and ready for a nap.
Evening: Sheila is soooo cute. I took her house off again, and she once again became very animated. She squealed loudly a couple times. She popcorned under my hand and touched me. She ran at the camera while I was trying to take her picture. I have a feeling that she is used to being handled.
Later: I let Patches see her (without touching). They both began to squeak. Patches squealed after I put her back in her cage. Then Sheila kept running around and squealing. Next, I brought Snowball over to sniff noses, without touching. Sheila started squeaking. I held Snowball up to the outside of the cage and they sniffed noses through the cage bars. Then I put Snowball back in his cage, and Sheila went nuts. She squealed very loudly a bunch of times and continued to squeak and squeal for a while. When I reached in to pet her, she let me. I took her out in a blanket so I could take another close look under her fur for bugs. She was more squirmy than last time and seemed to really enjoy squishing up into the blanket and then peeking out the side of it. It was harder to examine her, plus I had to stop to take lots of pictures of her peeking out of the blanket. She looked like she was cuddling up in there to go to sleep. She nibbled the blanket once, too, like Pippi does. She seemed to really love being in the blanket. For the first time, I tried rubbing her chin and she seemed to really like it. Once in a while, she seemed to call out (by squeaking) to the pigs in their cage nearby. Only four more days until she can really meet the other pigs. When I went up to bed, she was still moving around in her cage squeaking. I even heard a reply from the big pig cage. They are all aware each other.
Morning: I gave Sheila 3 dandelions, and she ate them all. She really loves dandelion greens.
Evening: I made videos of Sheila "meeting" each pig through the cage bars. She had the same reaction to each – lots of squeaks and squeals and running around. She sniffed their noses through the bar and stood "really tall" sometimes biting the cage bars. She is going to be a nibbler. She nibbled my arm a couple times last night. She nibbled the blanket. And she nibbles on the water bottle a lot when excited. I think she has a biting fetish like Pippi does.
Sometimes Sheila "talks" to the other pigs across the room and vice versa. When I was playing her videos on my laptop, Sheila "answered" back to her own voice.
Later: I took Sheila out in a fleece blanket and she immediately snuggled up and relaxed. I think she was sleeping with her eyes open. She kept making this tiny chortling noises as if she was very content and once in a while she would snuggle in the blanket to rearrange herself, but mostly she was still, so relaxed, with her little foot sticking out, like pigs do sometimes when they are comfortably sleeping. Occasionally she would wake up and crawl towards me, chirping, like she was talking right to me. OMG, she is sooooo cute and friendly. She didn't get nervous at all when I scroofled (petted) her on the head. She was so relaxed and comfy that I hated to put her back in her cage. But she (and I) were obviously both ready for bed.
Feb 18, Mon: Finally, time to take Sheila to the vet. Sheila weighs 13.5 ounces. No lice, mites or any problems. Perfect teeth. Definitely a girl. When we got home, we put in on the floor, penned in, and gradually brought all the other pigs in, one at a time. She was joyful and squeaked and followed them all around. They were tolerant and interested in her too. After about 20 minutes, we gradually took them all back until it was just Sheila. Then I put her in the big cage, and she immediately went down the ramp and back up, visited Patches, who was a little grumpily sleeping, then ran around the upstairs, then the downstairs. Pepper chased her a little, but it seemed like a game. She settled down and slept a long while, which endeared her to everyone (it was siesta time). No problems at all. Throughout the day, all we heard was squeakity-squeak, squeak, squeak…(over and over again). All was fine. No problems. No protests. No biting or scaring. Everyone likes her and she likes everyone. Sheila is a happy as can be. She did lots of laps and popcorn jumps and running around. She slept upstairs alone a long while. She doesn't seem to pester or bother older sleeping pigs much at all, so they seem fine with her. All is well.
My husband noticed a couple of pigs were nose-poking Sheila away from the dandelions, but then again, they all do that to each other. And Sheila just bopped away and back anyway.
Oh, one last thing about Sheila… We wondered how tame she would act once she was in the big cage with lots of hiding places and with the 'fraidy pigs. It turns out that she is kind of funny. I try to pet her, and she darts away at top speed. Then I have to reach way into the cage, because she's almost out of reach somewhere. But then, she stands there and let's me pet her as long as I like. It's like a game or something. I saw her popcorn off the fluffy chair (we call it a couch, but it's like a stuffed easy chair) today for the first time. I remember when Pebbles was little, she: (1) used to hide under the "couch" and (2) used to jump on the couch like a trampoline. But Sheila just rests on the couch for a little while and then suddenly SPRINGS off to go somewhere else.
August 2008 update:
Sheila has grown so much, especially her fur. She looks twice as WIDE as the other pigs, because of her long, thick fur. She is still adorable. She jumps and hops all over the place. She has such a sweet and gentle disposition. She lets you pet her, as long as you understand that her back end is off limits. Touch her butt and she jumps and flips and runs away. I'm so, so glad that I took a chance and decided to have six pigs. But six is really my limit. No more. Seriously, this is it.
March 2011 update:
Sadly, Sheila passed away on March 22, 2011, most likely of complications due to urinary track infections, which she was prone to get. She was a beloved "adoptive mom" to Addie and Bitsy, who all got along extremely well. I'm sure they missed their mama after she was gone. We will miss her sweet disposition and her long, beautiful locks!