This, right here, is what happens when love for your daughter overwhelms your common sense.

Internets, please meet Simon, (above) and Charlie (below).

I think I’ve written before about how much Olive loves animals. Her play revolves around them, the shows she watches are all about discovery and conservation, and the kid has logged some serious hours sitting in our neighbours front yard trying to catch squirrels.

She’ll occasionally play with dolls and Lego, but nine times out of ten, she spends her time diving deep into the animal kingdom.

But lots of kids love animals. So, how do we get from there to here? My own foolishness.

You see, I really missed her this Christmas. I’d sit in her room, her whole world reflected around me, and look at her toy tiger, her snail, her bookshelf filled with animal books.

It was one of those movie moments where my heart just filled with so much love and pride for my little animal girl, my own wild-haired wild creature. In that moment, in my too-quiet, too-clean house, with too much time on my hands, I wanted to give her everything.

So when she came home, I broached the topic of getting a guinea pig.

And when I brought it up initially it truly was an idea. I was approaching it like you’d approach a big decision with an adult, like hey, here’s this thing I was thinking about doing. What do you think?

Except I didn’t take into account (again, foolishly) that an adult is a very different entity than an animal-obsessed six-year-old.

So while the words coming out of my mouth were saying “I’ve been thinking about maybe getting a Guinea pig” Olive heard “We are 100% getting a guinea pig. Probably today.”

To my credit, we did not get one that day. Instead, we spent a month lurking on the SPCA website and trolling through the pages of Kijiji, waiting for the right pig. And along the way, Olive informed me that Guinea pigs needed to be in pairs, “because they’re herd animals”.

At first I thought this was just a sly ploy to extract the maximum number of pigs possible from her soft-hearted mother, but lo and behold, she was right. In Switzerland they’ve even passed a law against having solitary Guinea pigs- they must always live in pairs.

Looks like all of that research she’s been doing finally paid off. So then we were looking for two.

Eventually we found these little guys. Brothers, about two years old. Simon is quite charming and social, utterly content to be wheeled around in strollers and wear hair bows. Charlie has a more sensible disposition and seems to spend most of his time cowering in his little log house. Sometimes they chatter and talk to each other, mostly they just eat and poop. Both are settling in to their new homes quite nicely.

Needless to say, Olive is deeply in love.

I, on the other hand, was so overwhelmed by the utter idiocy of bringing more mess and chaos and expense into our lives that sometimes already feel far too messy and chaotic and expensive that after setting up their cage, I promptly had a mini panic attack and my mom and sister had to come save the day with wise words and Ativan.

But watching Olive with these little guys, I keep thinking this is it. These are the good parts. The good parts are always messy and chaotic and expensive. Some people have whole other children for God’s sake –sometimes several! What’s a few little piggies compared to that?

(I will say, however. The poop. Oh my God. I do not understand how it’s possible for a small animal to poop quite this much. It seems completely unreasonable. What kind of animal is made to function this way? Thankfully cleaning the cage is now one of Olive’s chores, and she’s gotten quite good at doing chores without being asked so fingers crossed that continues.)

Her room is now a zoo, and she’s never been happier.

This, my friends, is love. Messy, chaotic, panic-attack inducing love.

Welcome to the family, boys!

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  • Reply heidi ruckriegel February 11, 2019 at 11:52 PM

    So cute! My daughter is now 26 and she still has guinea pigs. Can they have an outside run when it gets warmer? Hers love going out and they’re not bad little lawnmowers! But the pee… they’re little eating, pooping and peeing machines ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply sweetmadeleine February 12, 2019 at 11:35 AM

      I don’t think they could ever live fully outside – our weather is so unpredictable and we have some very neighbourhood cats who are very skilled hunters! But we’ll definitely bring them outside to play in the spring and summer!

      • Reply heidi ruckriegel February 12, 2019 at 3:55 PM

        Oh, Anna’s piglets come inside at night, unless it’s really warm. If you have foxes (we don’t in Tasmania) I’d definitely always bring them in at night! She tried out several outside hutches and found the wooden ones always fell to pieces. She ended up with an Eglu, which was outrageously expensive, but it’s lasted and really practical and safe. To be honest, she would have saved money if she’d got that first! It has a ‘skirt’ that goes on the ground, preventing other animals from digging in. When she’s out with them, she puts a puppy enclosure on as an extension (that way you can sit in there with them) and has lots of tunnels. They love having tunnels outside to hide in if they get startled. Your pigs sound like a good pair – according to Anna, it’s good to have an extrovert and an introvert. Two extroverts will argue and two intorverts might never come out of their box.

  • Reply Nancy February 12, 2019 at 7:24 AM

    Congratulations! We had guinea pigs for years and they’re quite sweet and social little beings. Enjoy!

  • Reply sweetmadeleine February 12, 2019 at 11:37 AM

    They really are so cute – they’re getting more comfortable now and Simon runs to the side of the cage when Olive comes home. It’s so nice for her to have little buddies!

  • Reply Anonymous April 9, 2019 at 10:13 AM

    I just saw your instagram story and came to your blog to see if wrote about it. Sure enough, you did! We got two guinea pigs right around the same time as you, for the SAME reason! My five year old is in love. I notice you put the cage in Olive’s room. Ours is still in the living room, causing me a bit of anxiety. I am very curious how the bedding is working for you? Are you using fleece? Does Olive vacuum it up daily?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine April 9, 2019 at 11:11 AM

      Congratulations on your new additions! And I hear you, I would definitely have anxiety about them being anywhere but Olive’s room,
      As for the bedding, we are basically cloth diapering the guinea pig cage! It’s a cage liner made up of a top layer of fleece, a middle layer of absorbent, anti-bacterial bamboo, and then a waterproof backing on the bottom. The fleece wicks the pee to the bamboo liner, which I wash once a week, and Olive’s job is to sweep up the poop each evening (it takes about five minutes). It works really well! The liner brand is called Guinea Dad and it’s a little bit spendy upfront, but it eventually evens out with the cost of shavings and is totally worth it for me for the extra cleanliness and to not have shavings everywhere all the time.

      • Reply Kristin Sullivan April 9, 2019 at 3:00 PM

        Thank you! This is so helpful! We almost went with fleece bedding initially. I’m sold now!

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