One of the small rituals of our family’s life is bath time for our champion guinea pig crew; champion because they survived Cyclone Yasi as calm as could be. Animals amaze me with their resilience.
Before bath time with – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty – the children make them a warm, comfy and portable home – a plastic tub generously equipped with pet towels.
They lay out pet towels for afterwards – ready to dry and warm them.
Their cage is normally cleaned by the children not involved in the bathing, so they can return there when the whole operation is finished, newly washed, lovely to smell, and glossy. They rotate this less enjoyable task because it can get mighty smelly in the cage.
The children have made bath time a precision operation, littered with a huge number of comforting cuddles, as not all the guinea pigs like water. Misty needs the least amount of cuddles because he loves bath time. He still receives plenty!
There are three main stages to the bathing phase; stage one – place the crew in a box with carrots, their favourite food. There they wait to be washed.
Stage two – a patient child gives each one a dip in the low run bath (most often my daughter or our eldest), and then lastly one by one they go into the warming area to wait for their other guinea pig chums.
Once all the guinea pigs are together the children swaddle them for a while in towels to warm them, and then take the time to cuddle and chat with each one of them. They take great joy in the guinea pigs hiding in the towels.
Then there is a thorough clean of the bath – for the humans who must follow the guinea pigs to use it.
But Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty won’t make it back to their cage for a while, as now they are so clean they are especially enjoyable to play with.
One of my favourite memories from when we first had the guinea pigs is the children placing soft toys all around them. They discovered that the guinea pigs loved snuggling into bears. They’d run around in a circle if a ring of toys was put around them and ‘popcorn’, that is a little guinea pig jig.
They are not quite as playful as that now, but they are just as cute and interesting to observe.
It’s hard to imagine family life without the guinea pig crew – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty.
If you liked this blog, you might enjoy reading these Family Ritual Stories featuring pets.
One of the Family – a dog that believes his place is in church but he also has a few religious arguments and creates a classic embarrassing moment for his family.
Woman’s Best Friend – a dachshund, with personality, who can never catch the pet cat, except in his dreams
Missing the Bus: A ritual – just what you need if you want to miss Sunday school, a loyal pet dog to walk with in all seasons.