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  1. To be honest I find blogging emotionally hard sometimes. Not because I can't think of anything to say. No, that's not the problem, especially with the amount and type of pets that guest at Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel, there is always something that sparks an interest and/or a subject to discuss and explore. No, the problem I have is when our resident pets pass on, and again when we are told that one of our much-loved guests have crossed over. Understandably, it can be emotional and it takes me a little time to collect myself, which is why this particular blog has taken me a long time to get round to writing as we have heard of so many cherished pets leaving us this year.

     

    As many of you are aware Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel also looks after a number of resident guinea pigs as well as hotel guests - many who have joined us as singles and been paired together, or, as in one case, joined us as a group from an unexpected pregnancy. This means we have guinea pigs of similar ages and potentially this can mean saying goodbye to more than the usual when their times eclipse. At the moment we have four resident piggies who are beginning to show their age and need extra care. This can be anything from extra food, extra warmth, to living on just one level if they can't move around as they once did. As piggies mature, these things need to be considered - Water bottles, for instance, may need to be lowered as a piggy gets older. Water is particularly important because if a piggy finds it harder to reach his water bottle he/she will drink less which can have a detrimental effect on the rest of their health. Just because their water bottle has always been a certain height does not mean that tomorrow it needs to be lower. If you notice that the level of water isn't reducing as it once was try a couple of bottles at different heights and see which one is used the most. Taking time every day to watch how your piggy negotiates their way around their accommodation is a life saver. This is when you may notice something out of the ordinary and can act. You may not be able to save your piggy, but at the very least you can help them over the rainbow bridge knowing they are comfortable and not in pain.

    Personally, I will fight for our piggies for as long as they tell me they want me to. This is difficult, some fade over a long time, and you are always left wondering if you are doing the right thing. But as long as they are not in pain and convey the feeling - 'No, I'm not ready to go yet' - You have to respect that.

     

    Coconut - January 2009 to September 2015 - Coconut has been with us since the forming of Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel. He was my gentle giant. He could be paired with almost any piggy and get on. His greatest friend was Gary. Gary with his mass of hair and Coconut snuggled to the end.

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    Jared - June 2010 to January 2016 - & Blossom - July 2011 to January 2016 - Jared and Blossom were not a pairing but they deteriorated over a very similar timescale. Jared was our sexy beast. He loved the ladies and would perform unspeakable acts to any unsuspecting piggy he was a housemate with. Bless them, how they put up with him !!! Blossom was our beautiful, graceful and friendly teddy. Everyone noticed Blossom. She particularly loved being in a large group of piggies. Another piggy who just loved to know what was going on, especially when it involved food.

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    Duncan - October 2012 to March 2016 - Duncan was our nosey piggy. Always stood at the front of his accommodation, always wanting to know what was going on, always.

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    Mini Pig - February 2014 to May 2016 - Mini Pig was the smallest of the unexpected pregnancy litter we accepted at Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel, which is how he got his name, but really he should have been called Mole. I have no actual photos of him, all I have are photos of a lump under things - Under paper, under hay, under fleece. Even before the fleece was straightened after cleaning he was under it. Even when I pegged the fleece down he always managed to find a space to crawl under. That was where he loved to be and that's how we will always remember him.

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  2. When Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel began inviting guests in 2009, I also rehomed a number of boy piggies until Maisie joined us in 2010. Over the years, however, the girls I have rehomed now outnumber the boys. Whereas I can only have a maximum of 2 boys living together I have gradually bonded all the girls into one large happy group. This in part has been successful as I now have a large pet room which allows me floor space to accommodate them all with enough tents, sleeping bags, hay boxes, a dining area and a drinking station to allow them all to interact but not get on each others nerves and upset the balance we have at present.

    Any sound of food or hay bag rustling obviously brings this crowd of girls out running, which is when I have taken the group photos. Hopefully, I will be able to describe each piggy enough so you can guess who is who.

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    So, let's start with Maisie as she was the first of my girl residents to become permanent. Maisie was approximately a year old when she arrived under weight and scared. Previously housed outside on a balcony of a townhouse on her own. She is a black and brown smooth short-hair, which has always been extremely soft and very shiny. She has also turned from a timid piggy to one who is able to make friends easily. She has accepted every one of the girls who have joined her group. Starting with Nugget.

    Nugget is the most distinctive of the group - a brown and white Abyssinian. She is also the most nervous of humans and coverts her food, hanging back to see what's happening before pushing her way to the front grabbing whatever is on offer and running far enough away to be able to eat her food in peace rather than experiencing the jostling that carries on at the front. When food isn't involved, she is content to snuggle with any of the other girls.

    Stevie joined us as a little boy !!! It came as a big surprise to her owner when I revealed her true identity. She had been thought of as a boy for over 5 years. So, Steve became Stevie. And she joined us as most of my rehomed piggies do because her owner didn't want her to be on her own after her sister/housemate passed away. However, of all the piggies I have rehomed Stevie's owner is the only one to continually ask how she is and every so often I send photos in return.

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    As older ladies, Stevie and Maisie have a special bond and you won't find one too far from the other, day or night. Stevie is a caramel brown/black tiger stripe, smooth, short-hair.

    Martha and Storm are black Swiss piggies and are so similar it is only their size that differentiates them. Martha is mum and the larger of the pair while Storm is her daughter and smaller, otherwise they are identical in looks and personality too. Although, in these photos, Martha does seem to be ever so slightly grey or brown, depending on the light. 

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    When this group arrived it also included Midnight Star, a black Swiss with a cream coloured mark on the back of her neck and an orange/white Swiss called Blossom.

    Midnight Star was the baby of the group and the last in line to get anything. Poor thing, she never seemed to mind, though. However, when I received a call about one of my regular guests passing away leaving behind her very lonely elderly friend, I volunteered Midnight Star as a buddy to keep Twinkle young and active. It turned out to be a perfect match, Star was now first to receive anything and spoilt rotten, while the pairing worked wonders for Twinkle's moral until late last year when Twinkle's age finally caught up with her and Star returned home. Piggies have, I think, long memories as she couldn't wait to get back in with her family. Literally standing at the bars waiting. If she could have she would have clambered over them, I'm sure, but had to wait a short quarantine period before being re-introduced.

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    Blossom was one of those piggies who always wanted to know what was going on outside of the group. She loved humans and knew exactly what they meant. Whenever I entered the room, she was always the first at the front of their enclosure on tippy toes wanting to know what was happening, or more importantly, what was arriving !!! She was also the one to start any excited 'quick, someone's here and they've brought . . .' wheeking chorus that never failed to get everyone else up on their feet running. I miss that about her. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, she had to be put to sleep during January as she had been losing weight for a while, even though she ate loads, and that's always a bad sign :( Such a brave little soldier, she was so full of life right up to the end.

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    Sooty is another mum. A large/chunky, black, smooth, long-hair, she had also been paired successfully with another guest piggy called Peppa, who had lost both her sisters within a matter of weeks. Unfortunately, the match had to end prematurely because Peppa was an outside hutch piggy and although Sooty had been prepared well in advance she started losing weight when the cold weather of last winter began - so different to this year - and she was using all her energy to keep warm. So, she came home, brought inside and successfully paired with Blossom until they joined the larger group.

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    That brings us lastly to Sooty's daughters Smudge and Ebony. Both black, smooth-hair, Smudge has a little white mark on her nose and Ebony has what I like to call 'petticoat frills' that stick out at all angles round her bottom. They are both the cheeky youngsters of the group. Taking food from out of the mouths of their elders and running away, leaving behind very confused piggies wondering what on earth just happened.

    So my 10 little Indians now only number 9, but just love the run of the floor. Having the whole room when I clean them out.

    Just in case you were wondering, the boys are housed in the same pet room but in a custom-built stacking system built by me, but that's another blog for another day - as long as the computer behaves itself - touch wood :)