Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I’ve had several people ask me about Spike. Sorry, I thought I told this story before, but apparently it was on Facebook. So here it is for the rest of you:

The Tale of Spike the Guinea Pig
(a.k.a. My Failure as a Foster Parent)

In 2006 I was working at the county shelter. Back then we took in everything: dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, snakes, lizards, chickens, goats, pigs, ferrets, hedgehogs, sugar gliders and a sick turkey vulture. Caring for all of them was dirty work but it was never boring! One day we had a group of guinea pigs come in. (Useless fact: A group of guinea pigs is called a herd.) One of the guinea pigs was so pregnant that she was wider than she was long. I was never a fan of guinea pigs, but I felt sorry for the poor thing. A vet tech convinced me to foster her until she had her babies. She argued that shelter was loud and dirty, and not a good place to give birth. I agreed and filled out the necessary paperwork. The pretty little pig was named Speicher after a Navy pilot from Jacksonville, the first American casualty of the Gulf War. "Speicher" was a mouthful (and an awful name for such a sweet girl) so we shortened it to "Spike." We set Spike up in the dining room and waited for the big day.
  • A month went by and Spike had two babies. (BTW, they were fully furred with eyes and ears open, and each one was the size of a hamster. It would be like a human giving birth to 3-year old twins!)
  • Another month went by. Spike got annoyed with her offspring so I took the babies back to the shelter, keeping Spike for a little longer "to convalesce."
  • Six months later the foster coordinator at the shelter said "If you give us the $5 adoption fee you can keep the damn pig." I paid in cash.
Spike was a great pig, overflowing with personality. She would squeal and spin when I came home; she would coo when I scratched her head; and she would chatter her teeth when I annoyed her. She loved tomatoes and cilantro; she hated having her ears cleaned. She never bit and was extremely affectionate. We had her for five years and I sobbed uncontrollably when she died.

Lesson learned: I am a HORRIBLE foster parent. I love with all I've got and then can't let go. I truly admire those who can. -- K

Spike and her babies, just minutes after giving birth