Orange County's Premier Guinea Pig Rescue

Big Dump, Bigger Hearts

Paola A. came by her title as OC Rescue Crew Coordinator with Orange County Cavy Haven totally by accident. It started back in 2007-2008, when a friend had given her a guinea pig as a present. The pig was old, though, and it soon died. Paola decided not to get another one, but then in 2011 she informed her boyfriend that she was going to get another, to help her through a depressive period. He wasn’t sure that it would work, but she was determined, and her path toward piggy enthrallment and involvement was firmly established.

Paola knew about OCCH, so she contacted them and adopted two of their boys, Potsie and Wyatt. Not knowing any better, as she remarks, she added a third boy, this one a baby, to the mix. His name is Nikki, and she got him from the LA Guinea Pig Rescue. Not very surprisingly, the boys started fighting, and she says she was constantly contacting OCCH to find out what she could do, as well as to get information about the health and general care of guinea pigs. She was told to split them up, which she did, and she adopted another baby, Skeeter, so both Potsie and Wyatt would have companions. Two girls, Emma and Jane, followed shortly thereafter. “The girls are messier and more demanding than the boys,” she comments, “but they’re sweet. The boys are very loving. They’ll curl up with you and watch TV without any fuss.”

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Paola with Nikki.

Paola says she attended OCCH events and did general volunteer work. Then, she recalls, “On a supply day in December, Michiko just said, start calling shelters and find out who has piggies. I did a few calls, made a few pulls, and she made me the Shelter Coordinator. I have no idea if the position even existed before I took it on.” 

A couple months later, late on a Sunday night, she received an e-mail that 19 pigs had been dumped at the Orange County Shelter. On Monday afternoon, she headed over there and told the staff that she would take all of them. She had already built a “piggyville” in her apartment – cages everywhere to hold the rescued pigs – and Michiko had posted a message on Facebook asking for transport and foster help. It came as quite a surprise, therefore, when the staff said she should never have gotten the message since the pigs were still on hold pending a hoarder investigation and were not ready to be released. “My heart was broken,” she says. “Here I had expected them to come home the same day, I had gotten the place ready, and now I was told I would have to wait.”

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Piggyville quarters.

About 2 ½ weeks later, she got the “all clear” notice, and she and her husband, Ulysses, packed up the car and drove over to the shelter with a list of the pigs they could take.  By the time they arrived, they found that one of the pigs had been put to sleep, “because of seizures,” she was told, although she believes that it might have been that the staff didn’t know that guinea pigs are prone to popcorning when they’re happy and might have mistaken it for a seizure. She and Ulysses took 11 of the 19, which included seven babies, two girls about six months old, and two mothers about a year old. Most of the babies went to different homes, where they were paired with other, nanny pigs; one volunteer took a six-month-old mama home and eventually adopted her; she was left with one baby and two six-month olds, but someone came to take a look at them and ended up adopting all three. It was possible to move most of the pigs into forever homes since all the babies were old enough to be weaned. She kept only two of the females, because they were pregnant. Bottom line? Success and jubilation!

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Ulysses with pregnant mamas, Charlotte and Ana.

But just when Paola thought the dump situation was over, the OC shelter told her that 15 more pigs had been left in a box in the park and needed rescuing. It also turned out that three of the females were pregnant, and by May 28, when she got the word from the shelter that the pigs were ready to be released, they had all given birth. Now there were three mamas, one papa, and 11 babies in need of help. Paola and Ulysses (an unofficial OCCH scout, but appreciated nonetheless) rose to the challenge. They had to care for 10 of the new additions, since they didn’t know which babies belonged to which mamas, as well as the six forever pigs they already had. One other foster family took a mother and her four babies. The piggyville was now full.

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Potsie and Nikki take care of new fosters.

Since that time, the babies matured enough to be separated from their mothers, and all but two pigs have been placed with other foster families or have been adopted.

Despite her overwhelmingly positive experience with OCCH, Paola says she’s never thought of starting her own rescue, although her husband thinks it might be possible if they ever move out of the city and into a bigger house. “There is so much involved in a rescue,” Paola comments. “I don’t have the time now to sit down and figure out what needs to be done.”

So what should people take away from this experience? “Volunteer!” says Paola emphatically. “Figure out what you can do and become involved. For example, shelter crews always need help, since volunteers have day jobs, and it’s tough for everyone to be available all the time; someone has to be there when the rescue is contacted to go and pull the pigs. Also, since we’ve lost some foster families in the past few months, we need people to step up and take these rescued pigs in. And when you foster these pigs, you’re not alone – OCCH is right there to help you through it. If you can’t be available all the time, then volunteer on a week-to-week or a month-to-month basis. There’s always something to do, and it’s for a great cause.”

If you’re interested in learning how you can volunteer with Orange County Cavy Haven and help rescue guinea pigs, send an e-mail to cavyhaven.info@gmail.com.

Written by Miriam Ruff

Hammy, Buttercup, Feebee, and Dot are the cute little faces of HappyCavy.com (www.HappyCavy.com), a Web site started by Brian Balla, affectionately known on the site as Human #1, devoted to his four, sweet guinea pigs. Hammy, though, is the official “spokes-pig,” and she is the face of the HappyCavy Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr accounts, as well as the moderator of an “Ask Hammy” column. She also has well over a hundred blog posts to her credit. She and Buttercup have become the faces of HappyCavy to the hundreds of people who visit the site each day, and she is always ready to show the stuff she’s made of.

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Hammy, answering questions about guinea pigs.

It all started around February and March of 2009, when Balla and Human #2, Balla’s business partner, adopted their first guinea pig, Piglet. They also adopted another guinea pig, Hammy, the same day. Originally Balla had been considering getting a hamster, but after reading up on guinea pigs, he decided to go for the latter. “That explains Hammy’s name,” he says. “She’s named like a hamster but built like a guinea pig.” At the last minute, though, the two Humans found they had to go out of town. They rushed around to find a suitable pet sitter, but, while they did manage to find someone, they were still uncertain about leaving the pigs with another person. A Web designer by trade, Balla naturally thought it would be great if they could see the pigs while they were away, so he built a one-page Web site and trained a Webcam on the cage. Both Humans continually checked in on the girls during their trip.

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Once he returned, Balla didn’t think he’d keep the site up, but he found that he was checking it over and over again, even though the guinea pigs were right in the next room. So he redesigned the layout, added more Webcams, and HappyCavy was officially born. He also started a blog at the same time. “It was a way of learning how to do SEO and keyword research,” he remarks. “I had to figure out what people wanted to hear about guinea pigs and write it (with Hammy’s help, of course).

 

The blog grew to be a big part of sharing the guinea pigs’ lives. It was a way to generate new content, and it was the perfect complement to the Webcams. Balla says that when he learns something from his own guinea pigs, he writes it down and posts about it. “It’s the development of a voice for the site, and it’s a way to pass on information about how people can take care of their own guinea pigs.” There’s now an option on the blog page for anyone to submit an article of interest, and Balla encourages people to share their experiences. You can find all the requirements for article submission at http://www.happycavy.com/blog/.

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Brian Balla, Human #1, holding his latest addition to the Herd, Dot

In October of 2009, Bitsy joined The Herd. She, like Piglet, has since passed away. Balla documented everything about her illness (cancer) on the blog. Not only did it help him with the loss, but it provided important information to other guinea pig lovers and owners about what they might go through if their pig ever got sick. Piglet had gone suddenly, provoking a sense of guilt and helplessness in the Humans at that time, but watching Bitsy go through the whole process of treatment made them more ready to cope when her time came. “Guinea pigs are unique animals,” comments Balla, “and they have different ailments than other animals. By providing her story on the Web site, we could provide a community of support for other people dealing with their own guinea pig problems. “People need affirmation that they have to address something difficult and deal with a pet’s passing. It’s very fulfilling to provide that service.”

 

In January 2011, Feebee and Buttercup officially joined The Herd. Dot was the last adoption, in July 2012, rescued from a hoarding situation by Human #2.  Dot is a feisty pig. “She has a big personality,” say the Humans, and she’s picky about everything – what she eats, who she hangs out with – she actually likes to be alone. That situation was made more permanent when Dot attacked Buttercup, biting her on the nose and drawing blood. She was re-introduced to the others a total of five times, but the outcome was never good. She now stays in her own part of the two-level cage, separated from the others by a double grid, and two of the Webcams are trained just on her and the space she lives in.

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Buttercup, showing her stuff on Facebook

So, other than just walking away from the site with a smile on their faces, what do the Humans want people to get from the site? “I want them to know they can have their own guinea pigs be just as happy and as cute in their own environments as ours are,” Balla says. “They should learn that they need to rescue and adopt their pigs like we did, rather than buying them from a pet store, and that they have a responsibility to care for them and keep them healthy and happy. I would hope that HappyCavy.com serves as a non-judgmental environment where they can come to ask questions and find out information.” Judging from the enormous amount of feedback the Humans receive, it appears that HappyCavy is doing just that.

To learn more about the HappyCavy Herd, and to watch them in action, go to www.HappyCavy.com.

 Written by Miriam Ruff

 

What do you do when you’re a Web designer and affiliate marketer, and you have a passion for all things guinea pig? If you’re Brian Balla, you start a Web site called wheek.it and raise money to support guinea pig rescues.

 So what is wheek.it? Primarily, it’s a link-shortening program. Say you want to buy an item. You do a Google search and come up with it on a company’s Web site. After getting the item, you decide you love it and want to share the link with all your friends, especially on social media sites. However, the link is really long, and it’s cumbersome both to type or to post, especially on size-sensitive sites like Twitter. What you do, then, is copy the link into wheek.it (www.wheek.it.), and the site generates a much shorter link that you can post with ease. And if anybody else clicks on the link and buys the product, a percentage of the sale goes to one of the year’s two sponsored guinea pig rescue groups. For 2013, one of those sites just so happens to be Orange County Cavy Haven.

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What makes OCCH worthy of such an honor is that “their unique, “foster model” gives them the flexibility they need to foster as many animals that can be taken in by their network of foster volunteers. Foster families care for OCCH’s rescues at their own homes, which means guinea pigs cared for by Orange County Cavy Haven and its fosters are generally well-socialized and adjusted to living in a household of humans.”

According to the wheek.it site, “To achieve featured status, a guinea pig rescue must:

  • Be registered as a non-profit organization in the county or region in which it operates
  • Have a focus on helping guinea pigs
  • Have demonstrated the ability to adequately care for and re-home guinea pigs
  • Receive the most votes on the featured rescue poll”

A poll is held every year to determine which rescues will be featured during the following calendar year.

Balla, who started wheek.it in 2012, says that the “younger generation is more Internet savvy for social media’s power, and they’re more savvy to wheek.it’s uses. The service automatically attracts the power users of the Internet. It’s got a cute and simple interface, and you can track the analytics (good for Internet marketers) to see who’s visiting the link you’ve put up and where they’re from. The analytics are ideal for the participating shops (which you can find listed at http://wheek.it/shops), since it’s those links that raise the money for the rescues.” The only things that are not permitted are using your own links to make private purchases or libeling or slandering the shops that participate in making the process work.

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Balla and his girl, Hammy

So, other than raising money for their cause, what does Balla want the featured rescues to take away from the experience? “I want them to take away that this is a mouthpiece for sharing challenges, news, and fundraising opportunities,” he says. “I want them to keep in mind that there are alternative ways to raise funds for their rescues, and these don’t have to take a lot of time or material resources to do. Not everyone can set up their own rescue, but everyone can use wheek.it to shorten links and in the process teach others about guinea pig homelessness and the need to foster and adopt. I’m passionate about the value of rescues. I think this site can bring the attention rescues need to their cause.”

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For more information about wheek.it and how you can help guinea pig rescues, visit www.wheek.it. To find out more about OCCH, visit www.cavyhaven.com, or send an e-mail to cavyhaven3@gmail.com.

Written by Miriam Ruff

 

 

 

“Everyone deserves another chance,” comments Leiana S., foster mom to two older guinea pigs, Wash and Frieda, as well as two others and mom to four pigs of her own. Even though Wash and Frieda are older pigs (both over 5 years) they are healthy, happy, and highly adoptable.

Frieda was initially brought into the OCCH rescue with babies, and then she spent three years in Leiana’s foster care paired with another pig, Sugar. At one point they were adopted out, but they were subsequently returned and ended up back in foster care. Then medical issues arose that complicated matters and Sugar had to be spayed.  Six months later, Leiana found out that Sugar had a heart condition, and had developed a large kidney stone, so she became unadoptable and spent the rest of her life as a sanctuary pig.

When Sugar finally died, Frieda was perfectly healthy, but lonely. Wash had been paired up with a sanctuary pig, too, and, like Frieda, he had just lost his best furry friend. Leiana had the opportunity to pig-sit him overnight, and she found him very sweet; in fact, he and Frieda seemed to get along together and to be a good match. The funny part was that they both had been the dominant of their original pairs, and Leiana says, “when they got together, they each tried to become boss. It was like having Mr. and Mrs. Bossy Pants in the same cage. But then something changed, and they fell head over heels in love with each other. It’s the ultimate `senior romance.’”

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How far does the romance extend? “Well, they like to kiss each other on the cheeks when they’re eating,” Leiana explains, “and they’re like Lady and Tramp (who chewed on a single strand of spaghetti in the movies) when they eat lettuce together. They live in a handmade wooden hacienda house that has little windows, and Wash has been known to poke his head into them and steal kisses from Frieda.” They sleep inside together, and they do just about everything else as a pair, too. They love to be petted, and they’ve definitely mellowed in temperament over the years. “That makes them ideal for a “starter family,” (first-time owners)” Leiana says, “or for those who adore the mellowness of seniors rather than the rambunctiousness of youngsters. I would tell any potential adoptees their wonderful story of how they found each other to help them fall for them, just like they fell in love with each other.”

So what are Wash and Frieda like, other than inseparable? Well, like most guinea pigs, they love their treats. Their particular favorites are all kinds of lettuce, and especially red and green leaf, bell peppers, carrots, English cucumbers, and bananas. Frieda also likes kiwis and persimmons. And, of course, they like their Timothy pellets and hay, which they get in unlimited quantities. Leiana controls the amount of fruit that they get, though, since it’s so high in sugar, and she doesn’t feed them calcium-rich foods like kale, since they’re an older pair and therefore more prone to stones. Vet bills can be higher for older pigs, but a little proper care and nutrition can forestall the need for extensive medical care.

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Wash and Frieda also love to beg for their Vitamin C tablet each night. Wash gets up on the edge of the cage and starts to chatter his teeth, with Frieda wheeking right next to him. When they get what they want, they crunch on the tablets happily, like kids that have been given candy. Wash is known to chatter any time he wants something; it’s his way of communicating with his human, instead of wheeking. Surprisingly, too, even though he’s not fixed, he does not make any boar scent, since he’s so committed to Frieda.

And Frieda? Well, when she was taken to an event and another male made advances toward her, “she wouldn’t even give him the time of day, since she was already so in love with Wash,” Leiana remarks. “He makes her happy, and now they’re both getting another chance, together, after having lost their previous cagemates. They’re a perfectly bonded pair, and even though they’re older, they deserve another chance.”

Would you like to give this pair a loving forever home? If so, please send an e-mail to cavyhaven.adoptions@gmail.com.

 

Written by Miriam Ruff

So what do you do if you love guinea pigs, have worked with Orange County Cavy Haven, but now live 3,000 miles away? If you’re Lauren M., you become part of the adoptions committee, evaluating new adoptees online and stay connected with everyone by e-mail. Lauren was so sad when she moved away to attend nursing school that she knew she had to remain involved in the rescue. “I’m always on Facebook, and I do e-mails to keep in touch,” she says. “I stay connected, and if I have any questions, I can always ask Michiko (OCCH’s head).”

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Awesome volunteer, Lauren, and her husband, Joey – who was also a huge help at events!

Lauren got her first guinea pig, Petunia, about two years ago from a pet store – before she knew that adopting from a rescue was the better way to go. She started reading up on the pigs’ requirements, and she discovered that they’re social animals and should have at least one other furry friend. She then went to another store and picked up Pumpkin, a sweet little Abby. They got along well together, and that started her on the road to full-blown piggy fever. She now has five pigs, four sows and a large, neutered boar, Bugzy, who keeps the peace between the girls. The three others came from Wee Companions, a rescue organization in San Diego. She loves them all, but she feels a bit guilty that having so many means she can’t spend enough time with each one of them.

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The five companions hanging out in a bag.

Lauren discovered soon after getting her pigs that she had some problems on her hands. First of all, it was expensive to keep them in food and bedding. Second, one of the pigs came down with a case of ringworm, and she had to spend a lot on a vet to treat her. She kept thinking that there had to be a better way to manage the situation, so she went online and typed in “guinea pig shelter,” and came up with OCCH’s website. From there, she learned that rescues were the way to go. Not only did they have the tools to get supplies cheaper than stores, but they also rescued pigs that desperately needed a home and would have been euthanized otherwise. In addition, they had connections to good veterinarians. She was quite taken with the group and decided to become a foster parent. From the start, she says, “I knew it was the right thing to do.”

Not only did she foster several pigs, but she attended supply days and went to the pet expo and had a blast. These experiences made her feel that she was not alone in her love for guinea pigs, that she was part of a larger, just-as-passionate community. And as a nursing student, working with the pigs helped her learn a lot medically, such as how to treat certain diseases, what proper nutrition meant, and how to administer medications. It was all hands-on work. And in an interesting twist, she met up with Klair G., another volunteer, who turned out to have been her instructor in an EMT class. She thought it was “neat that we both worked in the medical field and loved guinea pigs, too.”

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Piggy mansion.

 

Now in Pennsylvania, she has not been able to find a place to volunteer, so her long-distance connection with OCCH, and especially being on the adoptions committee, are critical to her. She says she’s probably the “harshest critic” of the committee members when it comes to potential adoptees, but she admits that’s because of her deep love for the pigs. She has managed to find a shelter in her area that houses one guinea pig, but the staff doesn’t know how to care for it properly, so she’s taken it upon herself to educate them. And she hopes that, “maybe in 4-5 years, I can start my own shelter.”

So what would she tell to potential volunteers?  Go to adoption events, attend supply days, or otherwise volunteer your time. Guinea pigs are special needs animals, and you have to show them love when you work with them. One great way is to help the sanctuary pigs (those that have severe health problems and will spend the rest of their lives in rescue), since they haven’t had a whole lot of socialization. And becoming a foster parent teaches you a lot about the pigs, their personalities, and their needs.” And best of all? OCCH is always there to give you a hand or to help you find supplies. “It’s a great thing to do.” 

And what if you’re not local to SoCal? “There’s still a lot that you can do,” Lauren explains. “Use your skills and bring something unique to the group. Help to organize events, maintain informational spreadsheets, write a blog, answer questions, or even start your own rescue organization and connect it with OCCH.” The main thing is to give of yourself to a worthy cause. In Lauren’s case, that giving spans the width of an entire country, and it keeps her involved in a cause that is dear to her heart and her five adorable pigs.

If you would like to become an OCCH volunteer, please send an e-mail to cavyhaven3@gmail.com.

Written by Miriam Ruff

 

Black and white.  Loud and soft.  Older and younger.  To most of us, each of these may seem like polar opposites, but to foster mom, Jenn R., they each describe the combination of Bingo and Custer, the two guinea pigs she’s fostering for Orange County Cavy Haven, quite well.

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Bingo and Custer enjoying floor time.

Jenn became involved with OCCH when her own guinea pig fell ill, and she went looking for information on how to treat her. While her pig ultimately died, Jenn found OCCH in her research online and saw that they were looking for foster homes, effective immediately. She saw this as an opportunity to help fill the void from her loss and applied to become a foster mom. That was 4-5 years ago, and since then, she’s fostered about 25 other pigs for the rescue group, both males and females, although she says that most were boars. She’s learned a lot during that time. “Most importantly,” she says, “I learned a lot about proper care [such as the right food and boar cleaning]. And if and when I had an emergency, I found I could handle the situation okay, and the outcome wasn’t so bad.” She is now the LA Foster Coordinator, helping to place rescued pigs from that area in good foster homes.

Bingo came to her from another foster home. There he had been paired with another male, but the two did not get along, constantly fighting with and biting each other, and, as a result, he required other placement. This was in August 2012, when Jenn was already fostering two girls for OCCH. Naturally she had to put him in his own cage, but she didn’t think it would be too bad since he was only supposed to stay for about a month. By November, though, he was still there, but, fortunately, she was asked to foster another youngster who needed a buddy. The two hit it off. Bingo, about a year old, took to the five-month-old Custer immediately, happy to have a little one around to whom he could “show the ropes.” They became so close, that if Jenn took Bingo out of the cage, Custer would cry loudly until he could either see him or cuddle up to him again.

They get along despite the fact that their temperaments are so different. Bingo is very timid, cautious, and suspicious of anything or anyone new in his home. He has gotten used to the sound of the vacuum and the dishwasher, but he’s still easily startled. He loves to be cuddled, but Jenn has to “prep” him first, coming close to the cage and rubbing her hands together to make a noise so that Bingo realizes she’s there and wants to pick him up. Custer, on the other hand, has boundless energy and is extremely outgoing, but that makes him harder to catch, and he’s “not really a good lap pig,” Jenn notes.

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Custer showing off his handsome profile. 

Custer is definitely the more vocal of the two. He’s the “cheerleader” and also “smart enough to know when I get up for good in the morning, since that means it’s time for veggies. He wheeks and talks constantly until he gets them. He doesn’t do this, though, when my boyfriend gets up – he’s very selective and knows who gives him the food.” Bingo just cocks his head and looks around, but Custer stands up on the side of the cage and screams until he gets what he wants. Both join in appreciative races or popcorn around the cage when the hay and veggies finally arrive.

Bingo, though, is perhaps the more creative. As Jenn describes it, he’s a “paper bag architect.” When she puts bags in the cage, Bingo loves to arrange them, chew holes and make tunnels through them, and roll around in them when he’s done. He is also the neater one, squeaking appreciatively when the cage is cleaned.

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Bingo, inspecting his bag, with Custer on the other side. 

Both pigs are comfy with naps, and they both know that they are loved. They’re a “unique combination of traits. One is outgoing and one is an observer – it’s a good balance, and the two are a wonderful match, definitely bonded buddies. They love each other and are there for each other.”

As with her other fosters, though, Jenn knows that these boys need a forever home. If you are interested in adopting this wonderful bonded pair, please send an e-mail to cavyhaven_adoptions@yahoo.com.

Written by Miriam Ruff

 

What do you do when you want to volunteer but aren’t sure where to start? For Cub Scout mom Valerie S. and her 10-year-old son, Matthew, you scour the Internet looking for volunteer opportunities, see a posting for Orange County Cavy Haven, and decide to show up at an adoption event in February, 2012. That was the beginning of an ever-growing involvement with the guinea pig rescue organization.

Valerie and Matthew had owned a guinea pig before coming to OCCH – one of Matthew’s friends had one, and he loved to hold it. Valerie admits, however, that she got one in completely the wrong way, by going to a pet store, listening to what the pet store personnel had to say, and eventually buying one from the pet store – “three complete mistakes” was her assessment. Rescued pigs were definitely the way to go. Their pig lived a couple of years, and when it died, she decided they would not get another one to replace it.

Then came the adoption event, and Matthew begged to become a foster “parent.” Valerie said no, but when they came to the next event, he begged her again, and she gave in. “They’re playful, cute, fuzzy, and you can hold them,” Matthew says. He was smitten, and so, too, was his mom. “Have you seen their lips?!?!” she asks. “OMG, we just can’t get enough of those little lips and noses! So addicting!” They’ve now served as foster parents to nine different pigs, and Matthew has grown old enough to understand that each will only stay for a short time – they all need, at some point, to go to a “forever home.” He’s also learned the value of saving these pigs from high-kill shelters, so they can go on to lead full, happy, and healthy lives with their new families. ValerieChrissyIn the meantime, Valerie has jumped into the role of active volunteer wholeheartedly. She says she saw all the good things that OCCH was doing, and she realized she wanted to be a part of that. So she took the first step and volunteered to help, got caught up in “piggy fever,” and kept on going. 

She also comments that she is “super organized,” and Michiko Vartanian, the head of OCCH, seized on that trait to fill a number of holes on the “to do” list. Valerie now helps with the setup, cleanup, and lifting roles needed for events like supply days, and, beginning last October, she started working on the adoptions committee, where she reviews applications to determine if prospective parents are well suited to adopt these rescued pigs. She was told to expect to do a couple of e-mails a week, but, in reality, she says happily, “It’s more like 40. There’s a real boom now on people who want to adopt these piggies.” She estimates she’s helped place 15-20 in the last couple of months.   She also serves on the annual “pignic” committee, the main fundraising event held during the summer.

Matthew, too, is super organized, and he loves to sort out the piggy products the night before supply days, making them look nice and neat on the display racks. Then he gets to be on piggy patrol during the day itself, helping lift the pigs out of their cages, handing them to people who want to cuddle them, and generally making sure that all of them are okay. MatthewPeachesValerie says she tries to volunteer at a minimum of one event per month, and Matthew always comes with her. She doesn’t have to push or nag him; he’s totally onboard with everything. He does admit, though, that he lets his mom do most of the dirty jobs at home, like boar cleaning and cleaning out the cages, while he does more of the cuddling and kissing. Still, she’s happy he’s so enthusiastic about the process as a whole.

And what would she say to encourage other volunteers to join up? “I’d recommend people come to an event and help out. You get so caught up in the whole piggy enthusiasm bit, you want to join in.”

Right now, in addition to working on the next adoption event with the Bunny Bunch, as well as the upcoming supply day, Valerie and Matthew are fostering two sweet girls, Peaches and Chrissy, and they say they will continue to foster pigs as long as they can. In fact, when the girls were a few weeks late in arriving after placement, the two of them kept looking with longing at the empty cage, feeling lonely that no one was there to wheek at them for veggies or sit on their laps to cuddle and kiss. It’s clear the piggy spirit, as well as the spirit of volunteering, will keep these Scout troopers marching on.

If you would like more information about volunteering with Orange County Cavy Haven, please send an e-mail to cavyhaven3@gmail.com.

Written by Miriam Ruff