Charlie and I are very fortunate to have some wonderful friends and neighbors. Whenever we go away on a trip, instead of boarding Louie and the guinea pigs - or hiring a professional pet sitter - we'll send out an inquiry to our network of friends and ask if they'd be willing to come by and look after our pets for a few days. Because all of these people have children that are similarly aged to our children, we'll pay the kids some agreed upon amount to feed the animals and play with them each day. It's a win-win because we know our pets are in good hands, and our friends have the opportunity to test drive having pets, before they commit to having one (or three) of their own.
So, we went to Florida for Spring Break. And we left our dog, Louie, and our two male guinea pigs - Hairy Barry (aka: Barack Obama, Chocolate) and Georgie Porgie (aka: George Washington, Oreo) in the hands of our good friends who have three children that are approximately the same age as our children, but are currently pet-less and desperate for a dog and/or guinea pig.
On or about Day 7 of our 10 day vacation, we received an e-mail from our friends, written by Louie, letting us know how much FUN he was having while on vacation at "Camp." But in this e-mail Louie eluded to a situation that had occurred with his guinea pig "brothers."
Apparently, an eight-year-old girl lives in the house behind our friend's and she has two guinea pigs, too. But her guinea pigs are female. Can you guess where this is going?
One day, she decided that she was going to take her guinea pigs over for a "Playdate." Her parents were busy and didn't have any knowledge of her playdate plan and because she had to climb through a fence, she wasn't able to hold both of her guinea pigs, so she opted to just take "Snowflake."
Meanwhile in our friend's house, their father was in the shower, and not aware that Snowflake had come over for a playdate with our un-neutered males. From all accounts, Snowflake was in happy guinea pig land one minute, and the next minute she finds herself smack dab in the hopping Bachelor Pad of Hairy Barry and Georgie Porgie.
According to the kids, the guinea pigs started SQUEALING loudly and then they were jumping around, climbing all over Snowflake, and playing a game that looked like Leap Frog. This scene went on for a few minutes before one of the kids had decided Snowflake had had enough "Playing" and reached in to pull her out.
Once Snowflake's adult owners realized what had happened, they immediately called their vet who said it is extremely likely that Snowflake is going to be a Mama Guinea Pig in approximately 60 days. Oh, but because Snowflake is 2.5-years-old and has never had a litter before, her probable pregnancy is very high risk. It would seem that if a guinea pig sow does not give birth before she is 8-months-old, her pelvic bones can fuse together and this can be a real problem for an animal that gives birth to not-so-tiny animals that are ready to hit the ground RUNNING.
Today while I was at school, I bumped in to our friend's neighbors and she informed me that they're on Day 23 post Play Date. Once they get to Day 40, they are planning to take Snowflake in for an ultrasound ($70.00) to determine whether or not there are any little GP babies on board. If so, they'll also assess if her pelvic bones have fused. And if so, they'll discuss what options are available to help get those babies safely OUT of Snowflake. It appears that a C-section is the best bet. But the survival rate following a C-section for a guinea pig is only 50% and comes at a cost of approximately $1,000.00.
That's a whole lot of money, and really poor statistics, for a little critter that only cost $30.00.
While Charlie and I initially joked that we'd waive the stud fee, now that we understand the risks and cost implications to save Snowflake, we're contemplating a bake sale to help offset the costs. I'm not sure what our advertising signs would say, though.
"Please buy a cookie and help offset the veterinarian costs of our friend's neighbor's guinea pig, Snowflake, that was a victim of the worst playdate ever."