Guest Post: Escaping Hurricane Florence

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. 

Our family has been through many hurricanes and tropical storms from an inland standpoint. Then this past fall, for the first time, we faced an evacuation from a hurricane.

Living in Central North Carolina all of our lives, my husband and I were used to the wind and rain that hurricanes on our coast would bring inland, but we normally don’t have to run from winds or flooding. We rarely have to make choices about what we can take and then being left with just those possessions after a storm. Neither of us realized, until Hurricane Florence, how serious and deadly the whole ordeal could be. The thought that if we made a mistake, this hurricane could have killed us or our dog is awful. It gave us a new appreciation of those who’ve lived thru hurricanes and evacuations.

It’s still clicking in my head that storm surge evacuations can threaten our family! We live in Myrtle Beach, SC, in Zone C. The area of Myrtle Beach is divided into three zones: A, B, and C. The zones are associated with storm surge evacuations. We’re probably about 15 minutes from the ocean, but only a mile or so from the Intracoastal Waterway. We live in a third-floor apartment and so with a hurricane like Florence we could’ve been flooded.

My husband and I both had been keeping up with Florence, before she really became a threat to the Southeast coastline. Originally, the track had Florence curving to the sea, but we still watched. Florence was on a track that most storms took, in that it would likely brush the Outerbanks of North Carolina, but not actually make a direct hit on the Carolina Coast. Florence was the first storm to negate the track and become hellbent on hitting North or South Carolina.

When you hear for a week or more that a hurricane is “coming” your way, you grow fatigued with the news, and almost become complacent. The track changes so constantly that one minute you’re going to get hit, then the next it’s not. Forecast tracks more than 5 days out are full of flaws and the “cone” of where it could hit shifts, shifts, and shifts. It’s impossible to get accurate forecasts for hurricanes many days out. You know it’s out there, but you’re tired of hearing about, yet you can’t forget it.

The week before Florence made up her mind, our weather guy became more serious. There was now a chance for a direct hit from a CAT 4 or 5 hurricane. You’ve seen pictures from Katrina, Harvey, Maria, Hugo; that damage in our area was a real possibility. My husband and I began talking about our possible evacuation plan, going over our list of things to take, and then playing the waiting game again.

The waiting game ended on Monday, September 10th, when our governor ordered a mandatory evacuation off ALL THREE zones beginning on September 11th. We knew then that we’d be running for our lives. This hurricane was powerful and had the option to kill lots of people; we did not want to be in the body count.

When a mandatory evacuation is handed down, you’re supposed to immediately leave, but the question is where do you go? My husband and I were lucky that we could flee to a relative’s place, but not everyone has that option. Travel is expensive; so are hotels. Shelters are opened up in the area for people who want to stay or can’t leave, but being in a shelter could’ve still been disastrous given the power of Florence. Every person in all three zones had difficult decisions to make. You have to think of yourself, your family, animals, etc. Your life is hanging in the balance.

The day before the evacuation was to start, we spent time packing, going thru our list, double checking, and trying to breathe. We made decisions on what we would take and what would possibly get washed away into the ocean. Our possessions can be replaced, but not our lives, but it was still hard to make the decision to not take things.

From the beginning of this storm, our dog was priority number one! The first thing we packed were all of our dog’s toys, food, bedding, medicine, etc. If we had to go to a hotel or shelter, we’d find one that’s animal-friendly. In the past, a lot of people refused to go to shelters in the past because they weren’t pet friendly. Accommodations have become more pet-friendly, thankfully! In addition, some counties now have a hotline you can call to find a safe place to take your animals if you aren’t able to take them. It’s easier these days for all animals to be safe during a hurricane, instead of being left at home to possibly die as used to happen often in the past.

9/11/2018, 3:30 a.m.: We hit the road early to beat the evacuation traffic. We got up, walked the dog, showered, packed, turned off power to our place except for the fridge, locked the door, and left. We did NOT look back; We just wanted to get out of there. We arrived at my sister’s house later that morning and endured another waiting game. It was a long week! Florence finally made landfall in Wrightsville Beach, NC that Friday morning, dumping a ton of rain to all of Eastern NC.

Taking our dog, Eclipse, with us was fairly easy. She loves to ride! We have a pet bed and some blankets that she uses every day, and so those went into the back of our car. We made sure to stop for her to potty and exercise. The only challenge was on the way home. It was a much longer drive and became fussier, but otherwise she was fine.

On Sunday, September 16th, the evacuation order was lifted for our area, and so we headed home. It was an arduous experience! Keep in mind, Florence was still in SC as a depression, dumping copious amounts of rain. The usual route was flooded, and so we had to often had to turn around and find another route. We also drove in conditions that were not normal, including two rain-wrapped tornadoes. So many people on the road with us had to do the same. We became scared that we wouldn’t make it home. We worried that one wrong decision and we could lose our lives or Eclipse. My husband and I both wish we would’ve turned around in Charlotte and said screw it.

The night we finally arrived home, we had more severe weather and tons of rain. The governor received criticism for the evacuation order being lifted, but he wanted people to get home before the flooding hit from the rivers upstream in North Carolina. Most of the roads into the area became flooded and washed out; leaving many people unable to return home.

We saw entire towns flooded, homes destroyed, and people’s lives uprooted from Hurricane Florence. It was so heartbreaking being unable to stop the damage. There’s nothing you can say to make it better. Saying “I’m sorry” only goes so far.

You go through life thinking disaster will never hit you but it can. Everyone here is fatigued. We just want the aftermath of Hurricane Florence to be over with and for the recovery to begin. We’ve decided that we’ll be moving next year; we don’t want to do this again.

Before I end the article, Eclipse wanted me to let you know she kept us going during the hurricane. Eclipse provided lots of opportunities for love and helped us stay calm. Woof power!

If you can, donate to charities to help hurricane victims. Thanks to those who rooted for the Carolinas! #CapeFearStrong #CarolinaStrong

To learn how to prepare for a hurricane, check out: Plan Ahead for Disasters from the Department of Homeland Security.

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Guinea Pigs and Other Pets

Fruity & Pudding, Photo by Allison
Fruity & Pudding, Photo by Allison

Every living creature at some point in their lives like to have their own space, but in a world with billions of creatures it’s sometimes a little difficult to achieve it. When introducing a guinea pig to your home, you need to consider if you have space enough for it and also how your other pets will react.

When bringing a guinea pig into your house, I recommend buying a large home for each pet (something in the range of $200,000.00!) with lots of yard space to be free in. In all seriousness, I encourage you that whether you have one or more than one guinea pig that you provide them with a big cage. These little fur balls love to run around and need an area to do their morning yoga. Cage space for one guinea pig alone should have at least seven square feet of space, each additional guinea pig should have two to four additional square feet of space. For more information on guinea pig housing, check out info at Guinea Lynx.

Bumblebee & Lucy, Photo by Allison
Bumblebee & Lucy, Photo by Allison

There are other considerations to make too. For example, do you have a place in your home for your guinea pig to live in safely? Your cat may be curious and check out your guinea pig. If you have a cat, make sure the guinea pig(s) cage is not accessible by any means. Dogs can be quite rambunctious and loud. If you have a dog, make sure the cage is in a place where the barking won’t scare your guinea pig(s). Whether you have a cat or dog, they may want to play with your guinea pig and accidentally hurt it. They might also view your guinea pig as prey to eat. In a nutshell, if you have other pets, keep your guinea pig(s) in a safe place so they can enjoy being a guinea pig.

When you bring your guinea pig(s) home, your other pets are going to either be curious, afraid, or not care about it. Do you have a plan of introducing your new guinea pig(s) to your current pets? I don’t recommend bringing your guinea pig(s) and other pets face to face for a while; it can either go well or be a disaster.

Bumblebee & Barnaby, Photo by Allison
Bumblebee & Barnaby, Photo by Allison

Give all of your pets a while to get used to each other, then introduce them from far away. Perhaps, bring your other pets into the area your guinea pig(s) are residing in, but from a distance! Please don’t put your pet(s) right up to the cage; it’ll frighten the guinea pig(s) and possibly your other pet(s).

If your take your time and properly introduce your pets, chances are the introductions will go well and there will be nothing to worry about. The important part is, to make sure that you stay calm and the animals may stay calm as well! For more info on guinea pig introductions, check out Pawsperous Pets.

Finally, when thinking of incorporating guinea pigs into your home with multiple pets, check to see if you have the space. If you live in an apartment, you may only be able to keep two pets at a time or your lease may include no “exotic animals.”

Multiple pets in a home can be a wonderful experience! Guinea pigs love to be social and can get along with all kinds of animals. Just make sure you do your research before thinking of adopting a guinea pig or two. Guinea pigs deserve a safe and loving home too.

eclipse

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please check out our Author Guidelines.

Guest Post: Guinea Pigs with Special Needs

Some guinea pigs are born with special needs. Unfortunately, these guinea pigs are often overlooked for adoption. A guinea pig could be born blind, not able to walk properly, or even deaf. These guinea pigs are just as cuddly and cute as guinea pigs born “normal.”

Did you adopt a guinea pig that’s blind? First of all, good for you! You’re awesome for taking on a guinea pig that could use a little extra help!

To make it easier for your blind guinea pig, and if you can afford it, house your fur baby with a seeing guinea pig. A cage mate not only keeps your guinea pig from being lonely, it’ll help your blind guinea pig adapt and not be so scared. Blind guinea pigs can follow a scent and hear the other guinea pig in the cage. This help with the blind guinea pig with its surroundings, with a guide to follow.

If possible, keep things in the cage in the same place. This will reduce stress and promote happiness. Some say that moving things around helps your blind guinea pig learn to adapt to change. Do your own reading and decide if you want to move things around or not.

If you’re going to have a blind guinea pig, you must spend a lot of time with it compared to a seeing guinea pig. You must dedicate time and patience! Talk softly to your blind guinea pig as to not startle it. When it gets acclimated to your voice, it’ll be responsive and happy. Try to talk to your guinea pig as much as possible and when you are changing its water or feeding it, tell it what you’re doing, so it can pick up the signals.

Like a blind guinea pig, deaf guinea pigs require patience and extra care. One thing that I should have mentioned earlier in this article is that a guinea pigs nose will work more precisely if either blind, or deaf, or both. When one sense is lost, the other senses that are left, become more acute to the surroundings. This will aid your guinea pig in survival.

The sound is also not only heard but felt. Sound waves travel and bounce all around us, constantly, and a guinea pig may pick up on the vibrations made by sound waves. Guinea pigs are very aware of their surroundings, and no “special need” is going to change that.

Think of safe and secure ways to give your guinea pig good vibrations. Perhaps, you can tap (not pound or hit) on the cage. If you’re close enough to your deaf guinea pig, use your voice in a normal tone to see if it picks up your vibrations. If you have a hearing guinea pig in the cage with your deaf guinea pig, the hearing guinea pig will make noise (as all guinea pigs do, even deaf ones), and your deaf guinea pig will pick up vibrations from your hearing guinea pig.

Your deaf guinea pig has an advantage in that it can still see, which can help in communication. These little cuties are quite smart and can pick up on sign language as well. If you teach your guinea pig certain motions for food, water, etc., it’ll pick up on them.

I do urge you to use caution when thinking of adopting a guinea pig with special needs. These guinea pigs need a little bit of extra care, patience, and love. Think about if you were blind or deaf, would you want to be treated with hostility because of something you can’t control? Having a blind or deaf guinea pig may take extra time for care, but you’ll have a bond with an animal that’s ever so rewarding.

Remember, when thinking of adopting any pet, do your research, make sure you can afford it, and that a pet is a commitment!

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Young Guinea Pigs–A Parent’s Guide To Happiness

Stock Photo by Pixabay
Stock Photo Pixabay

Congratulations, it’s a boy, oh wait, it’s a girl?! You’re now the proud parent of a young guinea pig! Being a new parent can be stressful, but don’t worry, you’ll be just fine. There are no diaper changes, 3 am feedings, or parent-teacher conferences involved.

Do you know what your new bundle of joy needs for care? Have you purchased a bigger house so your guinea pig can have its own bathroom and bedroom? Luckily, a guinea pig doesn’t need an entire home to itself, your bank account will thank you!

Care: Do you know what your new bundle of joy needs for care? Have you purchased a bigger house so your guinea pig can have its own bathroom and bedroom? Luckily, a guinea pig doesn’t need an entire home to itself, your bank account will thank you! Check out Guinea Pig Hub for more helpful information on guinea pig care.

Housing: Your new guinea pig needs a proper cage; nothing too small! A guinea pig needs to roam free and stretch those tiny legs. Make sure there’s Carefresh bedding or layers of fabric, such as fleece, with newspaper underneath that lines the bottom of the cage. Wood shavings can irritate your guinea pig’s feet, causing blisters and cuts.

Bedding: Just like a baby diaper, your guinea pig will need a changing too! Luckily, a guinea pig changing just consists of replacing their soiled bedding on a regular basis. Guinea pigs poop and potty a lot, so be sure to keep an eye on the bedding. If the bedding isn’t changed regularly, a guinea pig can become very ill. Change that bedding!

Stock Photo Wikipedia
Stock Photo Wikipedia

Food: Young guinea pigs need more calcium than adult guinea pigs, so that they can grow strong bones. A diet should consist of guinea pig chow, fresh fruits and veggies, and water, complete with a Timothy Hay buffet, 24/7. Reread Essential Foods for Guinea Pigs!

Vitamin C: A young guinea pig is more likely to suffer from a Vitamin C deficiency than older guinea pigs. Make sure you give your young guinea pig fruits and veggies rich in Vitamin C. Be careful with the fruits; lots of sweet fruits can cause diabetes in guinea pigs!

Health: A healthy guinea pig is a happy guinea pig! If your guinea pig isn’t happy, you’ll be notified with loud wheeks, squeaks, or a guinea pig that hides and is depressed.

Baby Proofing: Just like with human babies, you should baby-proof just about the entire home for a young guinea pig. Young guinea pigs can get into a lot of trouble. They’re also quick and hard to catch!

Inspection: Look at the cage for harmful things such as sharp corners, dented bars, holes in the cage, bars too far apart, etc. Any furnishings that you put in your young guinea pig’s cage, inspect them to make sure they are safe! Pigloo’s, food dishes, water bottles, toys; the list goes on.

Escape: Do you have a little escape artist on your hands? Guinea pigs are excellent at escaping areas they want to get out of. If don’t want to wake up in the morning with little guinea pig poo pellets in your shoes, make sure the cage is escape proof. Carefully inspect the cage; guinea pigs love to chew and will chew their way to freedom if not watched. Take a look at Baby Proofing Ideas to help you stay ahead of the young guinea pig!

Toys: Your guinea pig will want to explore its new surroundings once it adapts. Bring in a few toys to help your guinea pig to adapt and explore, not to mention, it’s cute to watch them play! A simple toy could be a paper towel or toilet paper tube, stuffed with timothy hay. Keep your young guinea pig active both physically and emotionally!

Stock Photo Wikipedia
Stock Photo Wikipedia

Bonding: It’s very important that you, as a parent, bond with your young guinea pig. A solo guinea pig requires extra attention than two guinea pigs due to the social nature of these animals. Also, the more your guinea pig is handled, the easier it is to pick them up and love on them!

As a new guinea pig parent, you’ll be so enthralled with cuteness, that you won’t sweat the small stuff. Your young guinea pig will bring you many years of happiness, fun, and love. Enjoy your new baby!

If you plan to adopt a young guinea pig as a pet, please do your research before making this important step. Any pet is a responsibility that you must undertake, your pet deserves the best care possible.

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Adopting a Guinea Pig

The prospect of getting a new pet is exciting no matter what age you are! Remember that before you think about getting a new pet, pets are a serious commitment. Can you afford a pet? Are you committed to taking care of it?

Fruity & Pudding, Photo by Allison
Fruity & Pudding, Photo by Allison

If you’re adopting a guinea pig, please be aware that guinea pigs require a great deal of food options and care, socialization, and attention. One useful guide to check out is Guinea Lynx Info. This is a trusted resource among guinea pig owners.

Make your guinea pig feel at home!  A guinea pig deserves the finest things in life such as:

  • cage
  • pigloo to hide in
  • hay buffet
  • water bottle
  • fresh fruits and veggies
  • proper bedding
  • toys

The list can go on forever, but this can help you get started.  You want your guinea pig to feel at ease and generally happy.

If you help your guinea pig get acquainted with you, you’ll both benefit by being more relaxed around each other.  Don’t try to pick up your guinea pig during this transition period, but periodically sit next to and talk to your guinea pig.  Ask your guinea pig how it’s doing or even simply have a conversation near your guinea pig. The more your guinea pig hears your voice, the more comfortable it’ll be around you.

Socialization is very important for you guinea pig. If it’s too lonely, it could get depressed and even die.  We had two guinea pigs and, when one of them died, we thought we were going to lose our other guinea pig too due to how sad it felt.  We made every effort to spend as much time with our one guinea pig as possible and it helped a lot.  We did not spend 24 hours a day with him, but we made sure to be home more often. While we were home, we had him out of his cage, running around with us, getting stroked, etc.  If for some reason, you can only have one guinea pig at a time, please spend a lot of time with it.

Bumblebee & Fruity, Photo by Allison
Bumblebee & Fruity, Photo by Allison

It’s possible that you may have another pet and your guinea pig will be new to them. Curiosity will be intense! When you first bring home your new guinea pig, it’s going to be scared and so it’s not a good idea to introduce them to any pets at that time.  Give your furry pig a few days to adjust to its new home. It’ll keep your guinea pig calm and help with its adaptation to your home.  One useful guide to check out is Omlet.

Make sure that you research about exotic vets in your area, if you’re thinking about getting a guinea pig. A regular vet is not fully equipped to treat exotic animals. Taking your guinea pig to a reputable exotic vet could mean life and death for your new pet.

Treat your new guinea pig like family!  Eventually, your guinea pig will be so acclimated to its new home that you can pick it up, talk about the day’s events over coffee, and more. Enjoy your new guinea pig and remember: Adopt, don’t shop!

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: The Many Ways Guinea Pigs Feel

Emotions are part of our everyday lives. We are sometimes happy, sometimes sad, or bored. Unless you’re a robot, you’re going to have emotions. Today I’m going to talk about guinea pigs and their emotions.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Boredom: Is your guinea pig starring at you? Watching your every move or wheeking as loudly as possible trying to get your attention? If your piggy is less active, chewing its fur off or biting on its cage, then your pig is bored and would like some toys or some of your loving attention. If your pig is alone, please interact with it as much as possible, or get it a fellow guinea pig if finances allow. Fun fact: It is actually illegal in Switzerland to only own one guinea pig due to the nature of these sociable animals.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Sadness: Unfortunately, guinea pigs do feel sadness. Normally, they’ll go into a corner of its cage or some form of hiding spot. A guinea pig will attempt to hide it’s sadness, which can prove difficult. Sometimes, a guinea pig will be sad because it is sick. If you suspect that this is the case, please take it to see an exotic veterinarian.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Fear: Being considered an entree strikes fear into the heart of a guinea pig. When a guinea pig is scared, it’ll freeze in place, show the whites of its eyes, or shiver. If your guinea pig shows fear, approach it cautiously, since it may begin to “chut-chut” as a sign that it may bite. Talk to it in a soft voice to try to make it feel better.

Stock photo, PXHere
Stock photo, PXHere

Anger: Whenever a guinea pig is angry, watch out! An angry guinea pig will chatter its teeth together quickly, making a “chut-chut” sound. Other guinea pigs know that this is a sign of anger and will tend to stay away. Also, angry guinea pigs may sometimes make themselves appear larger by puffing out their fur.

Stock photo, PixaBay
Stock photo, PixaBay

Happiness: When guinea pigs are happy, they tend to purr, kind of like a cat. They’ll also “pop-corn” by jumping straight up and then run around. Guinea pigs are usually happiest when their owner is petting them. When guinea pigs are relaxed and chilled out, they’re a state of happiness.

There you have it, the top 5 emotions of guinea pigs. They may be small, but their minds are anything but! Guinea pigs make great pets and remember, “Adopt don’t shop!”

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: To Buddy, The Best Golden Shepherd Ever!

Buddy was my “first” dog, ever. I was 22-years-old and never had a dog; sad, I know. I grew up in a household that only wanted cats (no offense to cats). I knew nothing about dogs, how they act, what that woof meant, etc.

My husband and his family had a dog, Thor, for almost 14 years. I knew Thor for about a year and half, until he passed away in 2005. The family decided to not get another dog right away, which is understandable; you can’t “replace” a pet. At the end of 2006 the family, mainly my mother-in-law discussed getting another dog, but it had a to be a Golden Retriever male. We found out that a family close by had a bunch of puppies that needed good homes.

My mother-in-law talked with my father-in-law and they decided that they’d get one of the puppies. The mom dog was a Golden Retriever and the dad dog was a German Shepherd, so there was a chance Buddy would be the golden dog. My mother-in-law and I decided to take the Jeep to see the puppies. There were a lot of them! A male golden dog not spoken for, but he was mixed with the Shepherd. We hung around with all of the puppies for quite a bit, watching that one particular dog. The dog that became Buddy decided to challenge his mother and try to take her bone. When this didn’t work out, Buddy went over to one of siblings and knocked it down a little hill. We knew Buddy would be an interesting dog!

My mother-in-law spent some one on one time with Buddy and she decided to purchase this golden fur ball. The coolest part about this whole story is Buddy rode on home on my lap. I was able to pet him and talk with him and basically get to know this little guy. Buddy was only 9-weeks-old and kind of sleepy on the ride home, but he listened to the talking and observed his surroundings. In a nutshell, Buddy was my “first” dog.

Over the years, Buddy and I have formed quite an awesome friendship. I’ve gotten to see Buddy grow from a timid puppy to a large Golden Shepherd with a big bark and ears that he finally grew into. My fondest memory of Buddy is when he was little. I’d chase him around the coffee table and Buddy would put his ear down, as if to show that he was signaling his turns. We did this until he got too big to do the sharp turns; he is quite a large dog. There was a time when he moved away and I did not see him as much, but I’d always ask about him and request that my mother in law pet him for me. We live a little closer now, so I can see him on occasion, while Eclipse plays with him. Buddy has shown me that dogs are great, loyal, and fun to play with. Buddy has been so kind to our dog, Eclipse. He’s very tolerant of her not sharing the Frisbee or her bopping his head every time they see each other. Whenever we see Buddy, even though he’s now an old pooch, he’s always up for a game of chase.

Buddy is like a brother to me, a furry brother. I’ve grown to love dogs and understand them better thanks to Buddy. I dedicate this article to you Buddy. You’re an awesome dog!

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: A Guinea Pig Thanksgiving!

Just as I’m preparing the watermelon appetizers, Aunt Martha bursts in the door yelling, “You’re doing that all wrong!” Welcome to a guinea pig Thanksgiving–complete with drama, food, and all around family time.

Mom has prepared all the food. She is serving an extra special dish, a hay casserole in a hollow pumpkin. It took time to hollow out the pumpkin to get it just right. Mom spent three days on the hay casserole due to the order the ingredients were placed; some are a secret.

Just as she pulls the casserole out of the oven to cool, my brother flips the pigloo in a burst of boredom. It lands in the casserole, which splatters everywhere. Meanwhile, Grandma Petunia’s dentures fall out as she demands a squash martini with a kale twist.

Ding dong goes the doorbell! It’s Uncle Buddy. He’s brought his famous pumpkin pie in a pellet crust, but has forgotten to bring the whipped cream. As he turns around to head out to the store, Bobby Kitten, Eclipse, and Max zoom past. The pie becomes airborne. Dad happens to walk into the kitchen and catches it…… square in the face.

Pixabay, Stock Photo
Pixabay, Stock Photo

Luckily, the veggie platter was purchased at Piggly Wobbly Bottoms! I go to open the fridge to fetch it but the platter is gone! If we don’t have a veggie platter, Thanksgiving is ruined! The veggie platter is the “turkey” of a guinea pig’s Thanksgiving. Frantically, I run around the house trying to find the platter while Grandma Petunia continues to play with her dentures. I hear “munch, crunch, munch, crunch” coming from under the stairs, it’s Max and he’s eaten the entire veggie platter! His cute, furry cheeks are full of carrots, parsley, and cucumbers!

I look around in dismay. There’s pie, veggies, casserole, and dentures in various areas around the house. There’s also a house full of hungry family members ready to eat whatever they can find. Eclipse has figured out a way to climb up to the ceiling to lick the remnants of the hay casserole, while Aunt Martha criticizes Eclipse for standing on the cabinetry to reach the casserole. Grandma Petunia continues to use her dentures as entertainment, and Uncle Buddy is passed out in front of the TV while the football game continues on.

Ding, dong! It’s the doorbell again! Grandpa Rocco is here and he has the complete Thanksgiving guinea pig meal! Knowing our family well, he had a feeling that we’d need some help. We all sit down around the table and share what we are thankful for. Most of all, we’re thankful for another year of shenanigans and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: 10 Birthday Celebration Ideas For Guinea Pigs

Happy birthday to all guinea pigs celebrating turning another year older! If it’s your guinea pig’s birthday, throw a confetti shower of parsley over it and sing “Happy Birthday” to your little pal. Here are ten ideas to help you get started in planning a birthday party.

A birthday cake is a must! Purchase a red, green, orange or yellow pepper. Hollow it out by getting the excess seeds out of the inside and cutting the top off. Stuff the pepper with only guinea pig friendly fruits and veggies, then stick a baby carrot on top like you would a birthday candle. Credit for this idea goes to Percy’s Mom from Guinea Pig Cages.

Buy your guinea pig a present! It’s your guinea pig’s birthday, it must have a present. No present is too big or too small; your guinea pig will appreciate the present. If you’re on a tight budget, wrap a toy your guinea pig already has in newspaper or a paper bag; your guinea pig will be in awe over its “new” toy…. Munch munch, crunch, chutt, chutt…

Throw your guinea pig a birthday party! Invite all of your friends and family, along with your guinea pig’s friends to celebrate your guinea pig’s special day. Decorate your home and your guinea pig’s home with streamers, banners, and low hanging oranges for the guinea pigs to nibble on.

Fruity's Birthday, Photo by Allison
Fruity’s Birthday, Photo by Allison

Create a piñata! Fill the piñata with all kinds of fruits or veggies that are approved for guinea pig consumption. I suggest making the piñata from a tissue box or paper towel tube. Tie the piñata to the cage with string or just dangle it in front of the guinea pig crowd and watch those piggies go.

Every birthday party needs games! The human and guinea pig guests will have fun with pin the tail on the donkey, Timothy hay eating contests, and don’t forget cornhole! If your guinea pig and piggie guests want to play cornhole, make sure there’s a set of boards and that cornhole bags that are appropriately sized. If the human guests are not into eating Timothy hay, please provide them with carrots to gobble down in a hurry. 😉

Take home party favors! Make sure to fill a treat bag with fruits and veggies for both the human and guinea pig guests! Once the piñata is busted and the piggies have enjoyed their fill, make sure to send home the leftovers! Perhaps, for the humans, you could send them home with a slice of human friendly cake?

Provide a bounce house! Bounces houses are all the rage at children’s birthday parties. The guinea pig’s would love to practice their popcorning skills in the bounce house, while getting some major height. Please supervise your guinea pig(s) while in occupation of the bounce house.

Dog rides, instead of pony rides! I know a few dogs that would love to let a guinea pig or dozen ride on their backs! The dog would be equipped with a saddle and handles attached to the saddle, so the guinea pigs could hang on while the dog moves about. It’s each and every guinea pig’s choice if they want the dog to run and jump while giving rides.

Hire live entertainment! Humans and guinea pigs alike can shake their groove thang with the musical tunes of a live band. If you really want a happening time, hire a band that plays swing music–guaranteed to make your guests move. A magician is always a great idea at parties. The magician can make a strawberry appear out of nowhere and turn a car into a pumpkin! Most magicians will let the birthday piggie perform a magic trick for the party guests too.

Create a hay buffet with all of the flavors! Orchard grass, Timothy hay, and Bluegrass are few of the hay offerings you could present to the guinea pigs at the party. With all of that munching on hay, make sure there are plenty water dispensers. If you’re having a large party, I recommend getting large bales of hay for the guinea pigs to munch on. Don’t worry if you have leftover bales; just send them home with the guinea pig guests!

Once again, happy birthday to all of the guinea pigs celebrating their birthdays! I hope that you have the best birthday party, ever! If you’re looking for a pet guinea pig, please contact your local rescues to see if you can become a guinea pig parent. Wheek, wheek!

eclipseWritten by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Ten Human Gizmos Guinea Pigs Enjoy!

I’m Hamlet, a short haired guinea pig who lives his life on the edge. While my mom is out of the apartment I like to see what kind of mischief I can get into. The dog helps me obtain human objects that we find oh so fascinating! Thank you, dog, for making this guinea pig’s life fun and adventurous!

The orange peel: Us guinea pigs love to use the orange peel for many things. An orange peel can constitute as a butt freshener, rocking chair, hammock, or parachute! I like to start my mornings off with a quick chomp of the orange. I use the peel to parachute over to the dog to ask her about all of the happenings in the human household.

Spoons: Spoons are just not for eating that gruel you humans call food! The dog will toss a spoon into my cage, so I can launch fruits and veggies to her mouth. The dog loves food–and I love launching delicious supplements into her dog belly. I prop the spoon against the hay buffet, place the desired fruit or veggie onto the spoon, and then jump on it to initiate the launch sequence.

Hairbrush: Oh, hairbrushes are awesome! I use my mom’s hairbrush as a back scratcher for that mid afternoon scratch. Sometimes the dog will use it to groom her fur, but I find this odd. I thought dogs liked being unkempt and stinky?

The sink: The dog will never join me in doing laps in the sink. I’m assuming it’s because she’s large or because she hates baths. When I know that mom is going to be gone for a while, I fill up the bathtub and practice my backstroke. The dog stands by with her stopwatch to time my laps. Some days I like to fill up the sink and use my rubber duckie float and just relax.

Toilet paper rolls: Who needs Lincoln Logs when you have toilet paper rolls? The dog and I are currently in the process of building a fortress out of toilet paper rolls, complete with a moat. When mom is away, we go into the laundry room and spin the toilet paper off of the roll by using the dog’s tail. Paper flies everywhere! The dog thought it’d be a great idea to use peanut butter to hold together the rolls, but then kept licking the peanut butter off of the rolls. We’ve now resorted to using the vanilla frosting that was supposed to be for mom’s birthday cake.

The kitchen table: The kitchen table makes a great stage for singing and being a big star! A couple of days a week, the dog opens the door so my guinea pig friends can come over to sing and dance! We pretend that we are on Guinea Pig Idol and the dog is the judge. The dog is very hard to impress. I don’t think she can understand what we are saying with our wheeking.

Pillows: Mom refuses to buy me a trampoline, and so I use the pillows on the bed and couch to achieve my gymnastic goals. I have the dog move the pillows into a square shape and then I begin my flips and flops. The dog acts as a spotter to make sure that I don’t fly into the wall or bounce into the garbage disposal.

Television: When the humans are not home, the dog and I switch on the television. Sometimes we watch Netflix, sometimes cartoons. The dog loves to watch cooking shows, but I like to watch documentaries.

The freezer: One thing I’ve always wanted to do is climb Mt. Everest! The dog opens the freezer for me, picks me up and places me into the cold abyss. I forge the mountains of pizza boxes to get to the ultimate prize, the glaciers! According to the dog, glaciers are the ice cubes that mom puts in her iced tea.

Pens and pencils: My dreams of being an Olympic champion in pole vaulting are getting closer each day,! The dog knocks the pens and pencils off of the desk with her big tail, so that I can practice my pole vaulting. I get my running start from the bathroom that connects to a hallway, which leads right to the bedroom. The bedroom contains the bed that I use for a soft and nice dismount. Yesterday, I was able to make it to the other side of the bed. Sigh, some days I don’t get to the bed because the dog has her big butt in the way as a hurdle.

In closing, life as a guinea pig is great! I have a great dog companion that does a lot of things for me and a human that takes care of me. If you are considering getting a guinea pig for a pet, remember adopt, don’t shop! Wheek!

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.