I have a history of taking in strays of the furry and non-furry variety. It was therefore not surprising when an adorable elderly woman, Dorothy, approached me one day with a “pig problem.” You could slap her face on a package of the most generic apple pie and it would fly off the shelves. I became the proud owner of a neglected Peruvian Guinea pig because of that face.
The little thing arrived at our home encrusted with fecal matter and matted long fur that looked as if it had spent one too many days at Woodstock. We were uncertain of its sexual orientation and were informed that if we were to gently squeeze an interesting area of its anatomy, we would successfully make that determination. I skipped that process and declared our new pig a boy.
I immediately set to work detangling the little guy with a warm wash down. I was having extreme difficulty removing one pesky piece of fecal matter under its belly. I undauntedly rubbed and rubbed, the pig squealed and squeaked, and my daughter who was standing near me, gave me the “I can’t believe you are the one in charge here” face. My teen then enlightened me on the difference between a poop and a teat. So much for the little guy being a guy! From that moment on, if I walked by its cage it would let out the most interesting noise. The jury is still out. Was she sending me a warning to leave her private parts alone, or is she looking for another “happy bath”?
If cats have nine lives, then “pigs” have at least a dozen. In her first year with us, she survived being placed in a Barbie car by my youngest child. She seemed to be enjoying the ride around the kitchen until she got stuck. Once you have attempted to pry a freaked out mammal with mini beaver teeth out of a plastic toy car, nothing in life seems unattainable or impossible.
I created an outdoor habitat for our gal. Right before I was to leave for a dinner event, I discovered that our furry friend had made a run for it. I called the“911”of my life, my Dad, who usually has a sane solution for practically every dilemma. Dad has this “thing” regarding anything being caged against its will. Instead of getting an offer to join my search team, he simply said, “In the words of the great Martin Luther King, “Oh Lord almighty, I am free at last!”. I hung up and began my own search and rescue wearing high heels, cascading curls that took me $10 in babysitting time to achieve, and a lovely flowing black frock. Being 5’10 and firmly grasping my metal umbrella, I was now the perfect conductor in the pouring rain interceded with flashes of lightning. I feared that my curls would soon be jolted into a perm. Inside my head our Guinea pig quickly digressed from being the “poor little cutie” to that “flippin’rodent.” Forty-eight minutes later, looking more like a wet rat than the one I was pursuing, I gathered the girls for the best “circle of life speech” I could muster.
In the morning I discovered that the three young women of the house refused to give up hope. In my absence they had placed carrots around the perimeter of the patio. I know a few “high maintenance” females whose hair defies gravitational pull and actually know what to do with a lip liner. I have often pondered what these ladies would look like if they ever dared to get into water. My curiosity ended as the visual of our water-saturated MIA pet emerged from the bushes and scampered toward the carrots. She was totally unscathed from her adventure and returned to chewing on my tulips, forced into playing Barbies and melting our hearts.
Mary Helen Darah has been in marketing and development for nonprofit organizations for the past six years, but her greatest role is being a mom to three amazing and diverse young women. Mary Helen has an innate ability to find humor in her trials, and hopes her writing will give others comic relief and insight through the challenges of parenthood. Mary Helen can be reached c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.