Friday, June 11, 2010

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.... and Fuzzy Rita was a guinea pig

...and I'm happy to report, Fuzzy Rita still is a guinea pig, though at moments, I had my doubts she would make it. Let me back up just a second...

When Her Highness, Flash Flood and I returned from our trip, the entire family hugged and kissed as we typically do when reuniting. We told of our adventures and things we'd seen while away, hugged each other some more, then heard the adventures of those who were left behind.
Bert interrupted the weekend recap to say, "Oh, hey. I got something to tell you. Promise you won't get mad?" I hate when things are presented in such a manner. "No, I don't." is my typical reply. "Well, The McElroy's are heading out of town early in the morning so I told them we would be happy to keep Fuzzy Rita...." waiting for my response, he paused to read my anger meter, then added, "...for four days."

The thing is, I wasn't mad at all. I love The McElroy Family very much. I am more than happy to help them out anytime and anyway we can. But, Fuzzy Rita is a family pet they love dearly and have had for a long time. I was nervous and scared about having Fuzzy Rita's life in my hands... and even more nervous about her life being in The Storm's hands, literally.

My anguish over such matters stems from an experience in pet sitting that happened in the sixth grade. Our class had two baby bunnies that had tragically lost their mother. Mrs. Hutchingson's sixth grade was planning to nurse the babies back to health, then set them free in the wild later in the year. During spring break, since Mrs. Hutchingson had vacation plans, and I had pet bunny experience (which is laughable) I was elected as Spring Break Baby Bunny Pet Sitter. I was ecstatic. I ran all the way to my Mother's classroom across campus, squealing with delight, and a rattly cage filled with pellet pooping bunnies, whose days on this earth were diminishing quickly, unbeknownst to us all.

I'll never forget the look on my Momma's face when I popped into her classroom with that cage in hand. She grinned, I'm sure thinking it was a prank being pulled, since she was the school prankster, then pursed her lips before saying, "I guess since we do have two other rabbits at home, we can handle these two as well."

I think those bunnies lasted three days. If that long. I walked down to our garage, where the cage was being kept, and noticed how sweetly they were both sleeping. Then, worried when only one of them woke to eat. Then cried when I realized the other wasn't asleep, but dead. My Daddy took it into the woods, in a small box of some sort, and buried it in our own pet cemetery. I was sad all day, thinking about what in the world I had done wrong. I was mortified later, to find the other one had passed away too, from heart ache. At least, that's the way my Mom tried to package it, to help me cope with my loss. "Honey, it's not your fault at all. He died because he was so lonely for his brother, so now they are in bunny heaven together, jumping and eating carrots."

The rest of spring break, I dreaded facing Mrs. Hutchingson and my class.
Each night that week was filled with nightmares... I just knew the entire class would line up to spit on me and use cuss words out of context, since that's the only way we knew to use them then.

I felt sick returning to school that Monday, empty handed. I was thrilled when Mrs. Hutchingson took the fall and announced that it was impossible to save the baby bunnies, since they were too young to survive without their Mother, and apologized in front of the whole class for putting that stress on me. The burden was lifted immediately, when I realized none of the sweet kids in my class were planning to spit on me during PE, or use any bad words like, "You're dumb as hell, Holly. Way to go." None of my fears were realized, as the class didn't seem to even care. We played our usual silly games during recess, and cheered for the boys who were our "boyfriends" that we never even talked to, as they played football on the dirt field. And, I was relieved.

So, it was this experience that made me nervous about pet sitting for a small pet that was loved so dearly by The McElroy Family. Knowing how The Storm lovingly kills frogs, lizards, and anything else that can't get away fast enough added to my stress. The only pets that can weather our Storm are sturdy ones... like cats and dogs who can run away quickly if need be. Knowing Fuzzy Rita would be in a cage, and unable to make a quick get away made me sweat.

Day ONE was filled with oohs and ahhs and Rules: "Momma! Look at the bunny! I wanna hold her!" "Honey, that's a guinea pig, not a bunny.... Remember, only pet her gently.... No, you cannot hold her like that. Hold her like this, and pet her gently.... GENTLY! No, she only gets food twice a day.... We already fed her this morning. NO MORE FOOD!... Go wash your hands, you just touched her poop. No, that's not her food, that's her poop!!... Please don't mess with her water bottle. Gross, don't try and drink out of it!!.... Lock the cage back after you pet her. Because she can get out and run away, and while I wouldn't blame her, I don't want to find her and her poo-poo pellets in my clean laundry pile.... Go wash your hands again!.... GENTLY!!!..... NO MORE FOOD FOR HER!!!........"

Day TWO: "Momma, can I hold the chipmunk please? It's my turn to feed that chipmunk!"
"No, your brother already fed her. And it's a guinea pig. DON'T FEED HER AGAIN!"

Day THREE: "Who wants to feed Fuzzy Rita? Who wants to hold her?" Silence. "Has anyone fed her yet?" Silence. "I said, does anyone want a turn to feed her?" "Momma, I already played with that bunny today. You can have a turn to feed her." "Fine, I'll feed the chipmunk-bunny then."

Same song, different verse. Every pet we own (two cats and a dachshund who suffers with Napoleon syndrome) start out belonging to the kids and Bert. And after the excitement dies down a little for the kids, Bert takes over... for a little while. Then, slowly but surely, they all become MINE. Which is exactly why when Fuzzy Rita was safely returned (alive and well) to her home with The McElroy's, I laughed at the kids' request to go buy our own bunny-chipmunk-guinea pig.

Congratulations, Fuzzy Rita. You weathered The Hudson Storm. May your life be long and happy after surviving such a feat. You can proudly brag to your bunny-chipmunk-guinea pig friends, as if you've climbed Mt. Everest. You certainly earned the right.


Nikki McElroy said...

Fuzzy Rita says that the experience was "character building". She says she'll be glad to be "borrowed" anytime the Storm begin asking for a rodent of their very own. That is, once she returns from the Guinea Pig Sanatorium. Wow, those places are expensive!

Dixie said...

I'm so glad the McElroys did not have to come home and explain to their boys that all guinea pigs go to heaven. ha! Bless your heart about the bunnies, I would have cried every night, only because I would have worried that my friends would never speak to me again. ha! I loved that your kids called Fuzzy Rita everything from a guinea pig to a chipmunk. Hilarious!