...it is from that hour that I incline to date my Spiritual New-birth, or Baphometic Fire-baptism; perhaps I directly thereupon began to be a Pig.

November 30, 2005

A Word from Professor Skipowicz

Since so many of you have asked for my professional advice as a Doctor of Economics, I've decided to speak to you today about buying an RRSP. You need to do this before the deadline. Also, you have to go to a bank and make an appointment with someone to buy your RRSP. RRSP stands for Registered Retirement Savings Plan. You put money in it now for when you retire.
Many people have asked me, "Dr. Skipowicz, being a Marxist, why did you become the kind of economist that works for banks and stock exchanges and whatnot?" Well, that is a good question. It was because I loved the smell of banks, and I really loved those little slips of paper that they kept under the counter, where you would write how much you wanted to deposit or withdraw. They did away with all of that; I guess I should have had more foresight.
My advice to all of you buying RRSPs this year, is that you should tell your bank person to invest your money in socially-responsible companies. Like the Oxbow Hay company, or Little Critters Biodegradable Rodent Toiletries, or organic carrot farms. This is because if you give money to companies that make oil and whatnot, they will continue to destroy the earth, which means less grass for all the tiny people of the world, like guinea pigs and whatnot.
Tiny people of the world unite! Go green for your RRSPs this year!
Thank you,
Dr. Maude T. Skipowicz, Ph.D., D.Litt, K.C.B.

November 29, 2005

A few new things

Hello all, and sorry for the recent pigblog hiatus. I've been studying like a mad fool, and the pigs, for whatever reason, have started re-negotiating Bessie's supremacy. Maude is all of a sudden fighting back, peeing on Bessie, humping her -- even giving her a high-kick the other night! So it's been less than peaceful, but I thought I'd show off a few new things in pigland.
First is our old friend Mordecai, Maude's first cage buddy. He has come back to try and keep the peace.

Next is this great fleece I've been using instead of bedding -- I got some with a cool forest pattern on it, which I think the piggies enjoy.... I can vacuum it between changings! It saves money and waste, but I haven't washed my used fleeces yet so I don't know how gross that is going to be.

And Miss Maude just got a new haircut! I bathed both pigs recently and then gave Missy here a nice trim around the back. It kind of makes her look like a lion or a buffalo when she goes charging around the cage, because it's long in front still, but much shorter in back. Kind of a reverse mullet. I'm thinking about someday using Alex's electric clipper and making Maude into a shorthair. That would be neat!

November 25, 2005

Nerd alert!

New glasses...

.... nnnnGlavin!

Lettuce share

Maude and Bessie don't always just stare each other down and act like big poopy enemies, you know...

They have sometimes been known to share a lettuce leaf or two. It actually works out quite well, since Maude prefers the really green stuff and Bessie will eat the parts Maude won't (ie, the white stuff).

Here Bessie's cheek is expanding to take in more lettuce!!!!

So cute!

Guinea pigs working together
To make a happy home!

November 23, 2005


Yes! Thanks to Marybeth for sending us this OPP. (Those of you still *ignoring* my CFP -- call for pics -- take note!) This is Little Carrots, named for Algernon Swinburne, a Victorian poet whose Pre-Raphaelite Brethren teased him for his red hair. She is a very athletic and affectionate little miss.

Here is what Marybeth had to say about Little Carrots:
"Here you'll see Little Carrots engaged in any number of her daily activites, from some light housekeeping duties, an existentially fraught stand-off with her 'medicine ball,' to a diligent bit of scholarship. As you can see, L.C.'s chief academic interest is medieval theology, but she's been known to dip her paw into the odd Victorian novel here and there. We've discussed the possibility of her taking orders, but Little Carrots has some "post-Vatican II" grievances against Rome. She feels that, as a laykitten, she has more freedom to pursue her felinitarian goals."

All I have to add is that if Little Carrots were to dress up in a costume, she would dress as a horseback rider, with a crop and high boots and a jaunty little cap.

Bravo, Little Carrots!

November 22, 2005

Go outside and play!

This is pretty much how floor time goes for Maude and Bessie. I put them down on the office floor, and they immediately scramble back to their condo, begging to be let back in. They peer pathetically through the bars and wheek at all the hay they've left behind... Well, maybe all these pull-ups really work their core or something.


Here are some of my favorite OPP's (well, both the pigs and their owners are favorites with me!) Twister and Chase, having a little too much fun in their hay bag! Don't eat too much, now, fellas!

I'd just like to point out that reader participation in this OPP thing has been very disappointing so far. Don't make me do google image searches for animals and then pretend people sent them in to me! Come on, now! Share your pretty pet with other worthy pigblog readers!

November 21, 2005

Art pigs

Miss Maude is a dark, troubled, artistic soul, as this photo clearly shows: she spends a lot of time brooding in corners and toilets. This was taken during what, for normal guineas, would be a fun playtime. For Maude, it was clearly an existential hell.

An existential hell named Bessie, that is. Like her biggest artistic influence, the great Picasso, Bessie recognizes that traditional Western methods of representation in visual art limit the scope of perception to a single moment, a single angle. Here, she demonstrates the concept of parallax.

Like the cramped yet individuated and emotionally atomized figures in such early modern masterpieces as Daumier's "Third-Class Carriage" and Seurat's "Dimanche a La Grande Jatte," Maude and Bessie dramatize the characteristic modernist experience of "anomie" or isolation in the midst of the crowd; the sensation of being surrounded by strangers who are irremediably separate from the self and wholly unknowable.

November 20, 2005

Piggie update

Hey, so, I've switched the piggies' bedding from disposable Carefresh (made from recycled paper, pictured here) to reusable fleece, which is pictured below. I got a foam pad (wrapped in a plastic bag, then layered newspapers over that, then lay down my double thickness of fleece and this is what it looks like. It seems a lot messier because hay and poo and whatnot doesn't mix in with the bits, like it did with Carefresh, but I can just shake this off everyday. Plus I'm trying to train them to use their "petit coin" for peeing, which will make matters even better.

Maude has started to hide away from Bessie in the hay. She hates it when Bessie does her hourly "pigloo invasions," so this seems like a good solution. I wish it didn't look so sad!

Poor Maude!

Bessie having some laptime yet still watchful of the goings-on in her cage. She's a vigilant little miss!

November 18, 2005

Piggy poetry

My excellent friend Marybeth sent me a link to some piggy poetry today. It may be the sleep-deprivation I'm experiencing from studying for comps, or it may be the 18 solid hours of Wordsworth I read yesterday, but this is excellent stuff! See especially the haikus on non-food edibles, and the petrarchan sonnet to a lost piggy love (pretty facile rhyme scheme and the volta comes too late, but hell, I can't write a sonnet!). Also, they have Christmas carols. Maybe I should take a page out of Beezart's book and do my own Christmas flash videos with m&b!

November 17, 2005

Spot the resemblance?

November 16, 2005

An idea

Hey, maybe I should make OPP a regular feature of the pigblog. Maude and Bessie invite all their furry friends (guinea and non-guinea alike) to send in a picture. It will be posted on the pigblog with a little explanation of how M & B know this furry friend, what this furry friend's interests are, and what kind of costume that furry friend should wear, were that furry friend indeed to wear a costume. Sound good?

November 15, 2005

I'm down with OPP (yeah, you know me!)

OPP stands, of course, for "other people's pigs." These two little sweeties are my friend Katie's boys, Chase (black) and Twister (brown/reddish). Here they are, snuggling all cute. They are full of energy and have a lot to say! Katie thinks we should put our pigs together, but I don't know... Maude and Bessie are pretty hot. I don't see how Twister and Chase would be able to resist them. It just wouldn't be fair to these little cuties. M and B are love-em-and-leave-em types at the moment -- they're having a "wild girls" phase. But I do like Katie's other idea, dressing them up. I think Chase would make an excellent little monkey, and Twister can be a deer!

Guinea police

These days, whenever Bessie teases Maude (which happens a LOT -- chasing her, nosing her in the butt, taking hay out of her mouth, getting in the same house with her) Maude sends up this crazy wail that sounds a lot like a guinea siren or a guinea car alarm. WheeEEP! WheeeEEEP! WheeEEEP! I don't know what that sound means, but it's probably something like ssstOP THAT! ssstOP THAT!

I don't think Maude and Bessie quite share the same sense of humour... yet.

November 14, 2005

Piggies' new cousin

Well, she's not a piggie, but Peka here is Maude and Bessie's new cousin!

She's absolutely adorable, and her resemblance to Bessie is, I think, quite remarkable.

A pigblog miscellany

Since I don't have the time or energy to think up anything really interesting for the pigblog today, here is a series of pictures of random pig events that have taken place over the past few days.

First, here is the Happy Helper containing some of the chaos that resulted from my weekend Christmas photo shoot. Bessie is coralled in his left arm, and Maude is prevented from doing her lemming impression by his right. Thanks, happy helper! The cards turned out so well!!!

Because it is too cute, here is Bessie's funny droopy little bottom lip. Guinea pigs have these great droopy lips that make them look so comical and sweet. How can you not love something that looks this foolish?

The girls are finally learning how to share food. Not always, but some of the time. There is still the odd chase and grab, but they just have such a thing for lettuce, they are too busy eating to taunt each other. Lettuce is kind of a problem food for them. They love it -- it's one of their perennial favorites -- but when you've given it to them once in a day, they'll start hooting every time you get up to do anything or go anywhere, or even when they hear paper rustling, because they NEED more!

Here is Bessie enjoying some of her favorite green stuff in the privacy of her house. Guinea pigs are supposedly colour blind, but both pigs definitely prefer the purple house. They chase each other out of it on an hourly basis.

Sweet little Miss Maude is gettin' her lunch on here. She crunches through the lettuce so quickly and with such seeming violence, it makes me think of lions devouring gazelles. Guinea pigs are the true hunters of the vegan world!

November 13, 2005

christmas is coming!

Without wanting to give too much away, here's a look at the set-up for a photo-shoot I did yesterday with two of my favorite little cavies. I took about an hour away from my studies to work on some sweet custom Christmas cards -- it was fun! I learned a little about working with animals, and I also learned that photoshop can mitigate some of the problems that inevitably arise....

I don't know why I didn't expect them to want to eat the tree.

those of you who know me personally can expect a little surprise in the mail soon!
(chris and jamal, if you want one, send me your new address!)

November 11, 2005

Riddle me this

Okay so last night, before bed, I put the barrier back up between the pigs -- even though all the experts say if there's no bloodshed, don't separate them -- partly because I would be in bed and not see any bloodshed, were it to happen, and partly because, well, Maude was screaming every time Bessie went near her and it was really irritating, and would wake me up.

This barrier is made from 2 cube squares, twist-tied together, and twist-tied to either side of the cage. It moves only a very little bit when they pull on the bars with their teeth.

This morning, I woke up and came over to see how everyone was doing. I saw Maude drinking some water on her side and bent down to pet her when suddenly....

BESSIE came out of the house on MAUDE's SIDE -- the OPPOSITE SIDE to where she had been last night.

I still have no idea how she got through the barrier -- did she climb over it? I ought to have taken photographic evidence, but I was too sleepy and surprised to think of it. The good news is, they had apparently spent a considerable amount of time together in a space half the size of their full cage, and there were no battle scars. They even seemed quite content. This morning, there's been minimal screaming, and they may even be playing together.

November 10, 2005

Unification: Part the Second

I went out today and bought some "Squeaky Clean Critter Shampoo," which promised to make my pigs smell "as fresh as a baby," ie, it was baby-powder scented. Ewww! Anyway, it did a good job of cleansing the critters, who you see here, once again sheepish and irritated after a nasty bath.

On top of washing the pigs, we also cleaned out the cage, washed their pigloos and bowls and everything, and put down fresh bedding, so there would be no lingering smell of one or the other pig. Then we put the pigs themselves back into the cage, and let 'em rip. Maude humped Bessie, then Bessie all of a sudden became the dominant one, chasing a shrieking Maude around and around the cage, even getting into her house with her a few times and giving her a few nips to keep her in line. That was a bit of a surprise, except that Bessie's larger size makes her a better candidate for dominance.

The two of them settled down peacefully at first, and shared some hay. Then it got a little upsetting as Bessie mercilessly chased Maude away from her pigloo, veggies, and everything, making her squeal like she was in pain (she didn't seem to have been actually bitten anywhere, though.)

While I know this is typical dominant behaviour, and necessary as a first step to establish who's in charge, I found it really hard to watch my first (and most spoiled) little critter get chased and bullied by the newcomer. As a minister's wife, you'd think she'd be a little more christian about her living arrangements! But no, one pigloo is not enough for Mrs. Brambledown -- she wants both. Right now Maude is sitting rather dejectedly in a corner outside her pigloo.

My only hope is that this initial "shock and awe" tactic sets the hierarchy, and they can settle into a more placid routine, sharing the food and shelter more equitably with occasional nudges to remind the underling of her place. If not, I guess we'll have to put the barrier back up to ensure everyone's getting a fair deal.

Guinea Pig Unification Day

Everybody sing!

It's guinea pig unification day
Guinea pig unification day
Guinea pigs working together
To make a happy home

This is a song I wrote in honour of taking the fence down in the guinea cage, which will hopefully happen at some point later on today.

Something interesting: Maude has started jumping onto her house again! We haven't caught her in a photo doing that yet, but it's something she used to do when she got excited, back when we first got her, but had stopped doing for a while. Now that Bessie's around, she's doing it again.
You know what I think? I think they love each other but they're pretending to fight. Last night I came into the office and they were lying down side-by-side, on either side of their little fence. So sweet! Plus Maude is doing so much popcorning these days -- she can't convince me she's miserable with Bessie around!

November 08, 2005

please note

I've turned the "word verification" thingy on for comments, so next time you (ahem, yes, you) comment, you will have to type the word shown for the comment to post. This just prevents more (admittedly hilarious) spam commentary like that of the brilliant Diaper Cake (see below).


No fun, eh? Well this is what happens when you spray each other with your pee during playtime. Notice the bits of apple floating in the dunk-tank: because you can't use people soap on piggies, I thought it might make them smell pleasantly like green apples to toss a few into the bathwater.

Result? Um, no, they still smell vaguely like pee and sawdust.

Geez, what a sad sight they are wet, though. Especially Miss Maude.

Safe on dry land. Looking rather sheepish; a little ashamed of themselves. Why do all animals get that look on their face when you bathe them?

I don't think this bath turned a corner for them or anything, although they were cuddling together right afterwards, in the towel. But today their interaction was a little less fight-y...

Maude is still doing her best drag king impression, rumbling around like a big man. I think on Thursday I'm going to get some proper guinea shampoo, bathe both pigs, scrub their cage, pigloos and bowls until no trace of their former scents remain, and let them figure it out. The religous debate can take place at that time, I imagine.

More Maude trivia: did you know Maude was once the front-pig for an indie band named "Maude and the Honeybees?" They had one hit single: "Oh no (that not nice)."

November 07, 2005

This is new...

Wow. This must be a first in guinea pig history. Today's floor session was particularly hateful: Bessie actually sprayed her pee in Maude's face! Twice! And then Maude made two unsuccessful attempts to return fire, finally landing one direct hit. Bessie just stood there frozen with indignation for a few seconds before leaping to re-engage Maude in ridiculous piggy combat.

I have recently discovered that this reluctance on the part of my gp's to behave in a friendly manner to one another stems from a religious disagreement on the part of the cousins. Maude, being Polish, is a devout Catholic. When Pope JPII passed away last year, she spent the day hiding in her house, too sad to stir. Bessie, on the other hand, is a staunch low-church Anglican, accustomed to very little ornamentation and ceremony in her forms of worship.

So really, at the heart of their problems is a religious debate which I've invited them to come out and conduct publicly, in this blog. So the next few posts should contain brief statements of each pig's religious point of view, and then a point-counterpoint engagement of those beliefs, until hopefully we can reach an understanding. This isn't about converting either pig, it's about giving them the tools to work through their intolerance. As I think Cathy and Oliver pointed out, Bessie really isn't finding the solace she had hoped to... I think the two can talk it out in this space.

And of course, if all else fails, there is baptism by bathtub, which they had a little taste of today, following the pissing contest.

God give me strength!

A word from Buddha

Buddha intervenes at the start of our latest "introduction" session: "guys, could you please, PLEASE not fight? It's so annoying, it makes me want to stop smiling big enough to crack my face. And that's just not cool. I'm supposed to be the fat, happy Buddha -- that's something I thought guinea pigs could get behind! You're even vegans for goodness' sake! I totally support that! Come on now! Have some respect!"

So, taking this message to heart, Maude and Bessie scramble into a yin-yang formation, thoughtfully demonstrating their good intentions, yet (characteristically) ignoring the fact that such a move is pretty much culturally irrelevant to Buddha.... He appreciated the effort, though.

The pigs were surprisingly subdued this time around. They spent about the first 20 minutes just checking each other out, sticking their noses in each other's necks, and -- wow -- not fighting.

Of course such great behaviour couldn't last long, and they eventually went a couple of rounds. However, I did find what cavyspirit reports to be true: that sows might snap at each other and posture a lot, but they are great big fakers. It's all about bluffing and trying not to actually engage. I think Maude has pretty much established herself as the dominant piggie, but Bessie will continue to challenge her from time to time. Ultimately, though, I think they are starting to work it out.

Bessie is trying her best to see into the closet. God forbid she should ever get in there -- she'd have to start all over on her own, because I sure as heck wouldn't be able to find her.

Notice the poo. It's an essential part of any Maude and Bessie outing. The scrapping usually results in a pooping contest.

Wrangling guineas is hard work!

Auntie Colleen

On Saturday, Ryan and Colleen came over for some foosball and hockey, and Jesse, who was in town for a belated birthday visit to his family, also stopped by.

A great time was had by all, especially the piggies, who were treated to much love and attention from the guests.

Bessie enjoyed onesies, twosies AND threesies from "auntie" Colleen. What a spoiled little gp!

November 06, 2005

The Wall

Here is a photo of current piggie living arrangements. We put a barrier between the pigs so they could check each other out without killing or maiming each other.

And while they don't get along when given full access to one another, they spend a lot of time parading up and down in front of the bars, sniffing each other, bumping noses, and occasionally sharing some hay.

We took the barrier down yesterday to see if they would sort out their differences once and for all. Here they are scoping out the situation from the comfort of their respective homes. Once the barrier was down, they went crazy eating each other's food, running in and out of each other's pigloos, tasting each other's water, and basically doing the whole "mom! she's on my side of the car!" thing.

Here they are chasing each other around the cage. This again resulted in a few nipping fights, sustained teeth chattering on both sides (which is so creepy -- anyone ever see Dark City?) and (gasp) humping. They also push each other around by shoving their noses in each other's butts. Good times!

I think from now on we'll take cavyspirit's advice and keep introducing them in neutral zones rather than letting them get all territorial in their own cages. I hope they realize they'll have to submit to a bath if all this doesn't work... they so don't want that.