When I brought Muriel home on Halloween 2006, it was because I needed a furry companion in my life. By contrast, I brought Victoria home so that Muriel would have a friend of her own. When I bought Victoria, I imagined that she and Muriel would get along swimmingly, chasing each other playfully around their shared cage and snuggling up next to each other when it time to sleep, which would essentially double the adorability factor of one of nature’s most adorable sights, a sleeping guinea pig. Well, that didn’t happen. From the beginning, the two new “friends” didn’t get along. I couldn’t put them together for more than a minute or so before some kind of dust-up would begin. As it turns out, this was because Victoria had her own friends that she brought with her- including the late Charlotte- to be born a month or so later.
Likewise, it took Victoria longer to get used to living with me. At the pet store, she was a sweetheart, even falling asleep in my hand while I held her. But after I brought her home, she became restless. She would take hours to fall asleep at night, and eventually I had to start putting a towel on top of her cage to help her fall asleep and turn on a fan so her late-night activity wouldn’t keep me awake. Also, there were a few instances when I was holding her that she actually jumped out of my hands and tried to run away. More than once I had to (carefully, of course) move around all my furniture in order to find her.
But eventually, she settled down. Having babies helped, I think. And once she did, I was better able to appreciate Victoria in terms of her own personality rather than as a would-be accessory for Muriel. It’s funny how guinea pigs, which seem to be little more than fur, squeak, and appetite, can fit so much personality into those tiny bodies. While Muriel was bright-eyed and ornery and Charlotte was curious, Victoria was always warm and affectionate. Of the three, Victoria was the one who enjoyed being held the most. Sometimes I would prop her front paws up on my finger and raise up her front end so that I could rub her belly, which was her favorite spot. Other times, I would simply lie her down on my chest and cradle her. Unlike Muriel and Charlotte, she wouldn’t try to jump off or poke her nose about, but simply relax in my hands.
Victoria and Charlotte were an inseparable team until Charlotte passed away earlier this year. But after Charlotte died, I began to notice Victoria open herself up more to the world. While she had previously been skittish around our dogs, she became more comfortable with them. And she even seemed to warm up to Muriel. I even began to notice her chomping on the bars of her cage when she was hungry, just like Muriel does.
Alas, that’s part of the past now, since Victoria passed on over the weekend. I buried her yesterday in our backyard under a tree, right next to her baby. It’s strange to think that a year ago I had three guinea pigs, and now I only have the one, and that one only has one eye. For the time being, I think that rather than buying a new guinea pig to replace the ones I’ve lost, I’ll content myself with Muriel. I have plenty of others to love in my life now, of both the human and furry variety. But as Angela eloquently put it, Victoria and Charlotte were there when I needed them, and for that I’ll always be grateful.