the newest member of our family. No, I'm not pregnant, nor did I suddenly give birth. Theo is our newest pet and is a (drum roll): guinea pig. And, no, I didn't lose my mind, a new(er) pet has been in the works for a while.
Way back when, I mentioned toying with the notion of adopting a dog while Peter is overseas. I hadn't actually planned on doing anything just yet, but Kelsey recently attended a camp at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Ages ago (well, June) when we were driving across the country, I remembered that AWLA hosted summer camps for kids. I knew Cait might be interested in one and decided to check on availability. I went ahead and mentioned Kelsey, too, but wasn't sure either one would have a chance. After all, this was early June and most registrations take place in February and March.
I wrote to the person in charge of the camps, threw out a few names (I'm utterly shameless), how I had worked at the shelter ages ago, we adopted our dog from there, etc. She let me know that while the camps were completely booked, she was more than happy to put both girls on the wait list for any available camps in late July/August. I thanked her and figured that was that.
Not so at all! About 4 weeks ago, I received a note from her letting me know that a slot had opened up for the week of August 9th. I signed Kelsey up and then realized I hadn't really said much if anything about the camp, since I didn't think it would happen. She hemmed and hawed (are you sensing a trend here?) but by Monday morning (the 9th) had become quite excited. It was a full day "Shelter Buddies" camp, so the entire week was learning about animals, the shelter, police dogs, you name it. To say she had a blast would be an understatement.
Now in order to attend said camp, as one might expect, one has to walk through the shelter, past the adorable kitties and a few of the smaller animals on display. It just so happened that the week of her camp was also a special week for small animal adoptions. Kelsey had a chance to see all of the little guys and fell in love with two different guinea pigs. We visited with them, agreed that they were adorable, but I just wasn't sure. After all, the girls had been aching for a dog for ages (or would 'settle' for another cat) and I had promised to consider adopting another after we were settled.
The only problem is that many aren't available to families with children under the age of 8. More importantly, we simply weren't settled enough for a dog. As the days went by though, the interest in the guinea pig went up (by both girls, and to later include Nicholas) and the more I thought about it, the more I realized it might be the perfect solution. We discussed it many times, talked about the work involved (both have been far more active in Bailey's care recently) and also asked for Peter's input.
We ended up visiting the shelter last Sunday and after much discussion, put an application in on Theo. He is an adorable 3 year old (ish) guinea pig and had already been there quite a while. We gathered all of the necessary paperwork for the shelter, had Peter sent in an email okaying the application and waited for the phone call regarding the consultation (only an in-house consultation for small animals). Finally on Thursday we were given a time for Saturday. The only part I didn't quite realize is that the adoption was pretty much final...unlike cat or dog home visits, the small animal interviews at the shelter are more of a formality than anything else.
We had an interview with one of the small animal consultants (whose father used to be in the FS...small, small world) and within half an hour were given permission to take Theo home with us. Since this was a tiny bit of a surprise, his travel cage ended up being a shoe box with a towel inside. We came home, set him up in Bailey's cat box (temporary housing, we like to call it) and headed to Petsmart.
A few dollars and many decisions later, we had enough to create a safe home for the little guy. The cage was relatively easy to put together, and the entire event spurred Kelsey to want to organize her room a bit, so he could 'bunk' with her. It's not necessarily a permanent situation, but I'm fine with it for now, especially since it was an impetus to find her floor beneath the stacks and stacks of books.
The girls and Nicholas are still extremely excited that we were able to "Get Feo, get Feo!" today (as Nicholas put it) and were almost too worked up to sleep. He is a quiet little guy (thus far) and although there is a bit of accoutrement necessary, it is not pricey and the maintenance for the cage will be fairly easy. While I do hope we can adopt a dog at some point, with everything else going on, I think this was the perfect step for us right now.