Suggested audio: Rescue Aid Society (The Rescuers OST, 1977) written by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins
For the past three years my husband and I have been helping our elderly neighbour out by looking after his son’s guinea pigs when they go on holiday. We quickly bonded with the placid, cuddly souls and thoroughly enjoyed the calming effect of interacting with them. It became more and more difficult to give them back when their owner returned.
From as long as I can remember I’ve been passionate about mice, rats, moles, voles, shrews, hamsters and guinea pigs. Probably triggered by the Disney film The Rescuers and other animated wonders such as The Secret of Nimh, Basil the Great Mouse Detective and stories by Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter and the beautiful Brambly Hedge series of books and TV series. Everyone who’s ever known me is well aware of my utter delight each time I see those little creatures. Friends have even given me the nickname Mouse because of this which suits me much better than the conventional Shaz and Shazza.
My parents bought me a hamster when I was five or six years old. I’d looked after my school hamster and immediately loved everything about her. The chubby little creature with her funny pouches and cute as a button face bowled me over. My first hamster was called Buffy and was the first in an endless stream of pet rodents until I married and moved home. My favourite breeds were the precious little Roborovski hamster and the Russian dwarf. Those fragile little animals brought me nothing but glee every day. I also had a couple of comical rats and my favourite animal of all: mice. I don’t actually know what it is specifically about mice that delights my soul, those sweet eyes, their tiny little paws? One thing I’m certain is that The Rescuers was the trigger.
We had dogs, cats and chickens as I grew up too but those little rodents ruled my heart. With exception of our hens and spaniel Haggis, I loved them so much!
Fast forward to the present day. I hadn’t had any pets for over a decade and dearly missed them. The happiness they give me and the sense of calm plus purpose because they are solely reliant on you for all their needs. I loved cleaning out their cage and feeding them treats. The nearest to a pet I had were occasional pigeons who roosted on our previous residence’s balcony.
Our neighbour’s son brought his children’s two guinea pigs up every year for the past three years, as stated above. My family have owned these podgy bundles of joy as we all grew up and I’ve always enjoyed holding them on family visits. To me, they were like giant hamsters! So you can imagine how happy I was when our neighbour let me care for them for a couple of weeks each year. My husband was bowled over by their little faces too and we each took it in turns to hand feed them fresh vegetation. Last year I cried when they had to go back because I’d become deeply attached to them and knew their owners wanted to re-home them but unfortunately we didn’t have the room.
Fast forward another year and our neighbour collected the guinea pigs yet again and was even given nail clippers so I could clip their nails as I did last year. I’d previously been taught how to trim my chickens’ nails and it wasn’t much different. We again took them in and my husband surprised me by saying I could have them because he saw how calming they were for me and made me happy. We had to find the room for them of course and we were surprised to find we had plenty. Excitedly, I logged on to Amazon and ordered them lots of new things including indoor cage on a stand so there’s no risk of me falling when I tend to them! We jumped on the bus to the pet superstore and filled up my kind neighbour’s car boot with even more bedding, treats, etc etc. And a hand vac because sawdust travels everywhere.
Today we have begun the patient road to getting them used to their new home. They’ve been great and certainly know what to do each time we open the refrigerator! They love cuddles and I take deep pleasure in ensuring their cage is clean and tidy. As tidy as a rodents cage can be that is!
A big thank you to my neighbour and his family for entrusting us with their care and the biggest thank you of all is to my dearest husband who tirelessly helps me get through each day with his love and support. And now I have two beautiful pets yet again for their wonderful therapeutic benefits.
© Copyright: Sharon Lawson™