When we decide to take on responsibility for the care of a living thing it is a serious business. We may give that creature the opportunity to exercise all its natural behaviours (can you tell I have just completed an online course on chicken behaviour and welfare?) but ultimately their life is in our hands.
It is also complex to unravel the role non-wild animals play in our lives. Our farmer has 700 ewes each of which had two, or one, or three lambs last month. Yet he talks about the emotional involvement of a breech birth, a lame lamb. We have got to know neighbours who keep ponies, sheep, goats, alpacas… all without financial return but in some way the symbiosis enriches lives.
We first started caring for guinea pigs quite a few years ago. The reason for doing so was not clear. But having taken them in it was clear that our life was enriched. They made the journey, buried underneath the hens, in the back of an overfilled pickup. They rejoiced, as did the hens and ourselves, in their new environment – limitless fresh grass to graze, new sights to see.
Their day-room was moved to new pastures each morning and then: something was wrong – listlessness, loss of appetite….
Quick research showed celandine=poison.
Guinea pigs are strange creatures. Very social, multi-lingual, but reticent in their responses. Mouth feeding of Supreme Science Recovery Feed, re-hydration, it took days and days for them to one by one give up the fight – a full week until Anna went:
So, we had fed them poison (unknowingly – does that count in law?). What do we do? Guilt. Despair. Mourning.
But then, the only way to honour their parting is to re-commit to a coalition with the species.
So thanks to Welshpool Pets we have