Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Introducing my family - part 5 - Princess (now Rosie)

Meet Princess Rosie

Introducing my family part 5 - Princess Rosie
Princess when she arrived

Princess is a female Peruvian guinea pig. Being Peruvian, she has long hair which falls over her face and rump (as opposed to the Sheltie, whose hair all flows backwards. This is her on the day we brought her home.

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie

A work colleague had asked me if we would be able to re-home Princess, who is 4 years old and had been left on her own after her mother Elsa had died. There was another guinea pig and some rabbits kept in the same area of the garden, but Princess hadn't been herself since Elsa's passing.

We did some soul searching, as we already have 11 pets, but eventually decided that we would offer Princess a home.

We set up our spare hutch on the opposite side of the kitchen to Phoebe, Tilly, Molly and Emmeline, and after work on a Friday afternoon we went to visit Princess. She was a little timid, and skittish at being picked up from her hutch, but after a few minutes of being held she relaxed a little. We discussed her care and feeding regime with her owner, popped her into a travel box and drove her home.

I could feel some very small mats forming in the back of her coat (the sweep), and the individual hairs felt quite dry. All I did on that first afternoon was to carefully groom Princess with a wide toothed pet comb, and cut out the mats as I came across them.

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie hair cut
I gave Princess a little hair cut to remove some small mats from her back end
It is always advised to cut mats out rather than trying to detangle them, even when very small, as they pull on the hair and skin and can be very painful. It's also important to note that mats can form very quickly, and round the tiniest bit of hay, so unless you are grooming daily then they are inevitable and must be dealt with as soon as you spot them. Don't wait for them to get bigger.

Now, it's quite difficult when you go and look at someone's pet with a mind to giving it a new home. You want to inspect the animal, to check for lumps, bumps, weight, discharges, mites and lice, but you are under the microscope as well. How are you handling the owners pet? Do you really know what you're talking about? Are you finding fault with the way they kept their pet? All I can say is, do check these things, but do it surreptitiously, under the guise of petting the animal. If you are really unhappy or suspect they are ill then walk away...or if you're me, take the animal home and get it to the vets as soon as possible for an examination.

NEVER put a new animal straight in with, or near your existing pets. They must have a good couple of weeks in quarantine to be sure they have no illnesses or pests that could be passed to your pets. That doesn't mean treating them any differently, give them somewhere quiet, warm and comfortable to live. Washable toys and hidies rather than soft/fleecy ones. Just don't bring them into close contact with your pets, and always wash your hands and forearms, and change your clothes before you go from handling your new animal to your existing ones and vice versa.

Another minefield is money...

When I have adopted animals from Pets at Home, you don't pay, but make a donation to the animal rescue charity. The amount you donate is up to you, but the store is not getting the money, it is going towards helping other animals. If you find you can no longer care for the animal then you have to return it to Pets at Home. you cannot sell or re-home it yourself. It's part of a signed agreement. If you adopt from a rescue centre, the rules are much the same.

When Emmeline came to us (under very similar circumstances to Princess), she came with a cage, bowls, feed, bedding, bottles, toys, hidies - it was like Christmas! The family are able to visit Emmeline whenever they want, and have offered to help us with any vet bills incurred by her. This is so kind, and highly unusual. Emmeline was very well socialised, in beautiful condition and settled in really quickly. No money changed hands for her.

Princess' owner asked us for an amount of money (I will not say how much), to include a hutch and run. Now, firstly, we didn't need another hutch and run, secondly we didn't really need another piggie, and we had understood it that they were keen to re-home her to someone they trusted, not recoup some of their losses (that's a bit harsh, and is not exactly the case, but...). So MrPB and I explained the arrangement we have with Emmeline's owners, that we were happy to help them by taking Princess, but had no intention of 'buying' her.

Thankfully this was all agreed before we arrived at the house. It would have been very awkward to get there thinking everyone understood the terms of the arrangement, only for them to change once the piggie was packed into the travel box.

After a couple of days to settle in, Princess was given a spa day, starting with another hair trim, a 20 minute conditioning treatment with Gorgeous Guineas 'Aloe Melt', and a lather, rinse, repeat bath in Gorgeous Guineas 'Lice and Easy'.

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie bath
Rosie had a Gorgeous Guineas bath

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie ears cleaned
And an ear cleaning
She got daily groomings to help us bond with her, and keep her coat knot-free, then a week later had a second 'Lice and Easy' bath. Her coat looked and felt more hydrated and less fly-away than when she arrived. We also cleaned her ears (externally only, not inside the ear canal) with olive oil over the course of a couple of days, as she had quite a thick, dark brown waxy build up on them. Massaging the ears with olive oil emulsifies the wax and it can be wiped away with clean, damp cotton wool pads, and is much gentler and more effective than trying to rub or scrape it off.

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie after second bath
After the second bath Rosie's coat looked less flyaway and dry

Once the bathing and quarantine period was over, we let the newly renamed Rosie have a playdate with Molly, just like we did with Emmeline. Molly is such a gentle soul, and she imposes her dominance by being calm and assertive, not grumpy. She allows the newcomer to sniff her bottom, she teeth chatters, but that's normal and understandable, and once the newcomer has allowed Molly to wash her ear, the pecking order is sorted, Molly is the Momma.

Rosie ran to Molly straight away, and then panicked a bit that Molly was not who she thought she was. Molly remained her calm self, Rosie grumbled, teeth chattered, mounted Molly repeatedly...Molly just walked away. They ate side by side - food is an excellent distraction during bonding sessions, and I like adding small amounts of new foods to the pen during the session so there is always something interesting to investigate.

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie Molly bonding session
Rosie and Molly had a playdate

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie Molly bonding session
Which went quite well

We kept a close watch on them the whole time, and had a towel on standby to throw over them

NEVER try to break up a fight with your bare hands! You WILL get bitten!

Once Molly had washed Rosie's ear and the mood was calm, we removed Rosie from the pen.
She shouted and shouted and shouted! Whether she didn't want to be separated from Molly, or she felt she should have been left in the pen (which would be a dominant/territorial thing) it's hard to say. If we can give them even more room to bond, there is a chance we can eventually have Rosie living permanently with Molly and Emmeline.

Wouldn't that be wonderful!

Introducing my family part 5 Princess Rosie looks happy
I think Rosie looks quite happy to have joined our family