Canine Good Citizenship, that is.
Today started off with a bit of uncertainty as I awoke to the sound of the fire whistle in the next town intertwined with the noise of rushing wind. The gusts and pelting rain reminded me of the sounds at Niagara Falls. Still, the day couldn’t be denied, there was too much to be done! Today was the day of George’s Canine Good Citizen test, and I was also looking forward to adding a new guinea pig girl to my herd.
The AKC Canine Good Citizen test requires your dog to perform calmly in a series of exercises that tests his skills in obedience as well as the ability to be polite in social situations. I like having my dogs certified because I hope it makes an impression on folks contacting me for rescue and on others in the dog world: I am serious about dog training, having well-behaved dogs, and setting an example for my adopters. We got to the building and started warming up. George was doing great and I was feeling good. After having already completed the dog-dog test earlier, we went into the ring on our turn and before we knew it we had to do our loose leash walking. This was the one thing that George absolutely couldn’t do when we started taking classes. To illustrate how far we’d come, he did perfectly, even making eye contact through most of the test, and was very responsive. We moved through the next couple sections- walking through a crowd, sit, down, stay, recall- and he goosed just about every person he passed on the way to the supervised separation (sorry, Carol, he liked you too much!) Finally, the last box was checked, my paperwork was signed and soon we were getting paperwork to send in for our certificate. George passed and is now ACES’ Shining STAR George, CGC. <3
I left the training club, George in tow, and headed to Pittsburgh to meet Lisa W. from Wheek Care Guinea Pig Rescue at the Western PA Humane Society. I was there to pick up Lucy, a cute little red and white female pig that I hoped to add to my trio of guinea pigs at home. As I sat down, Lisa said there was a second female pig. Before I knew what I was saying, “I’ll take her, too!” came blurting out of my mouth faster than my cats hit the kitchen when they hear the can opener. I have the room, the ability to make more room, and my guinea pigs live like little rock stars. What’s one more?
It took a long time for the lovely WPHS staffperson to get through with the paperwork necessary but finally she was ready to take my carrier back to get Lucy. When she returned, this is who I saw:
While she’s a lovely pig, Lucy is not red and white like I expected! She is, instead, a gorgeous silver agouti and white. She was cuddly, liked being held and nibbled on my shirt and jacket before getting cozy under my chin. She has an intelligent look to her big dark eyes. I was in love.
When the staff member came back a second time with the mystery pig, my “plus one,” I was excited. Not every day you get to add new members to your family and here were two right in front of me! This pig’s name was Lilac and had come in with a dead cage mate, her feet so covered in feces that they had to be soaked, and she had quite the long medical sheet because of a host of health issues that needed treatment. I had no idea what to expect from such neglected beginnings, so I hurriedly opened the carrier box:
Lilac is a gorgeous lilac guinea pig! I couldn’t believe how lovely, and large and sweet she is. She, too, is happy to cuddle up under my chin.
The girls are getting along okay though they’re giving chase occasionally. They’re living together for a short while. I’m planning a cage expansion before I move them in with my pigs, so everyone has some space to get away from one another. After much thought and searching, they’ve been renamed Willow and Tara, respectively. Tara means “star” and as such has special meaning to me and if I’m going to have a pig named Tara I’ve got to have a Willow as I am a Buffy TVS nerd to this day.
After the dust settled I was feeling a little intimidated about adding two when I had only been expecting one, but in the weirdest flip-flop ever it was my mom that said, “what’s one more?” when I spoke to her earlier. My mom originally scoffed at the idea of a 22 year old starting a non profit animal rescue, was less than subtle about her disapproval when I’d tell her how many animals were in my house and gave me a hard time about the whole thing in general. She tried to be supportive and not hurtful but she didn’t want me wading into a life of disappointment and despair. These days, she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders and tells everyone about her daughter’s rescue group and her animals. On days like today, I’m not the rescuer but the adopter, and to hear my mom’s happy, “awww” when I told her my one pig had turned into two made me happier than I can describe. Welcome home, girls!