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Quiet Room Treasures

by Lena Bean 8 months ago in guinea pig · updated 8 months ago
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My favorite coworkers ever had fur.

❤ Days after writing this, I thought of a friend who makes the world a better place, especially for the Guineas. This story is dedicated to you, Jacinta ❤

“Pet Care to Register 1 for a return, please. Pet Care to Register 1.”

I used to hear those words a lot. As the head Pet Care associate at PetSmart, I handled many sales and returns for all sorts of pets. From fish to reptiles and hamsters to crickets, I was your go-to gal for anything small animal related, and my favorite of all was the Guinea Pig.

Oh, my. The first time I held one of those furry and chirpy little guys, my heart melted, and I wasn’t the only one. Those are some popular little fellows in the pet field. Unfortunately, like so many popular pets, it is debatable whether children should be entrusted with their care. In addition to their need for a varied and careful diet, Cavies (another name for the Guinea Pig) need to be handled with care.

Sure, they love their little human caretakers and will even squeak and jump when they see them come into the room, but they will also jump when they are being held. This tendency of the little furry Cavy led to many a broken pet, and that day was no different.

What really ground my gears, as they say, was the audacity that the customer had to tell me that nothing was wrong with the Guinea Pig and that it was just the child’s unexpected “allergy” that prompted the return.

Allergy. Sure.

Before I lifted the little fellow out of the cardboard box that they had brought him in, I could see that there was more to the story, and my heart broke for the little fellow. There he sat, still and quiet and looking up at me with the cutest little brown eyes that poked out from a head tilted to the side. I knew right away not to try to lift him. It was not the first time I had seen a head tilt in a Cavy, nor would it be the last. I looked at the woman with disdain.

“Allergies, huh? It looks like he was dropped from a height. Did he jump out of her arms?”

She glared at me.

“NO! She’s allergic to him. That’s all.”

I rolled my eyes and issued the refund before taking the little fellow to what we called “The Quiet Room.” The quiet room was a small room where we would bring the sick or injured animals. At any given moment, you could find snakes, fish, birds, hamsters, and, of course, guinea pigs.

I gently set him down on the counter and called the vet that we brought our sick pets to. I told him that we had a guinea that had been dropped and likely had some part of his neck broken and arranged to take him to his office post haste.

I sat down with the little fellow and cried. I remembered him. I knew his face and remembered the day that he had come in off the delivery truck. Life sucks sometimes, and that was one of those days. I was pretty sure that he would be dead by the end of the day, and I had anger and sadness in my heart.

When I took him to the Vet, however, I was delighted to find out that he had broken a bone inside of his ear and not his neck. He would have a tilted head for the rest of his life, but he would live. I told my manager that I was going to adopt him (something that PetSmart does with damaged pets), and I took him home with me that day.

I showed him to my mother, and she laughed softly. “He lists a little to starboard, doesn’t he?”

We laughed and decided that his name would be Igor (though he was much cuter and cuddlier than his namesake).

Igor was with me for three years before he tragically died, leaving me heartbroken. During those three years, he lived like a king with his three other “damaged” and adopted guineas. I worked at PetSmart for two years and brought home damaged guinea pigs, reptiles, and even fish over those years, acquiring quite a collection from the four walls of the quiet room, but Igor was always my favorite.

He would sleep with me under the covers, and he ate feasts of organic produce and grains far more expensive and healthier than anything I ate in those days. Igor became something of a Mascot for our store, and although I had great human coworkers, he and his furry and scaly and slimy friends were always my favorite companions when I worked at PetSmart. That job couldn't last forever, but the furry companions and friends that I made and adopted into my home and heart will always be with me.

guinea pig

About the author

Lena Bean

Alaskan Grown Freelance Writer 🤍 Lover of Prose

Former Deckhand & Barista 🤍 Always a Pleaser & Eggshell-Walker

Lifelong Animal Lover & Whisperer 🤍 Ever the Student & Seeker

Traveler 🤍 Dreamer 🤍 Wanderer

Happily Lost 🤍 Luckily in Love

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