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Pet of the Day
Today's Pet of the Day
Dr. Stretch Pepper the Guinea Pig, the Pet of the Day
Name: Dr. Stretch Pepper
Age: One year old
Gender: Male
Kind: Guinea Pig
Home: Massachusetts, USA
   Meet Dr. Stretch Pepper.

     He is my furtato, my love bug, my sweet polite boy; he is my guinea pig.

     I adopted him on June 8th, 2017. His assumed birthdate is October 6th, 2016. I decided to adopt him on June 7th 2017 verrrrry early in the morning.

     I am a person that suffers with depression and anxiety disorders. I finished my undergraduate degree last spring and decided to take a year off before returning for my Master's degree, a year I have kind of dedicated to mental health.

     My family consists of many people with dog/cat allergies (including myself) so that has always been out of the question. I have always wanted a bunny, but if I was being honest with myself, I couldn't guarantee the space needed for a bunny over the next couple of years. Guinea pigs are a little more lenient in the regard. So I looked on the local shelter's adoption page and saw that they had quite a handful of guinea pigs, so I decided this was happening, ordered everything I would need from Chewy, and as soon as they were open, I was off to the shelter!

     When I went in, it just so happened that the self-named "Guinea pig lady" was at the counter. How fortuitous! She asked me what I was looking for and as this was my first ever pet at 22, I was worried about looking after two souls, so I asked if they had any "only" guinea pigs, who preferred to be the only pig in a house. And it turned out there were two! A set of brothers actually, who... didn't quite get along when they were babies. They fought a lot, and it really made them prefer being without other guinea pigs. It also turned out that they had opposite temperaments. So she asked what I was looking for, and I said "I want a small furry friend who I can love and hang out with." She said to me, "I think I have just the guy." And boy did she ever.

     Honestly, it was love at first sight. I was a little scared, he was a little scared, but we hung out for a little bit, and it was like we were meant to be.

     I adopted him that afternoon, knowing he would be spoiled in love and cuddles.

     I did a lot of research before he came home that weekend. I knew his things were coming to the house, so I started to make sure I knew everything I could to make his transition to his new home as comfortable as possible.

     It was a rough beginning. The enclosure I got for him got backordered. But the play pen I'd ordered arrived... So I had to make a makeshift enclosure for the first couple of days. It worked well enough, but I would have been far more comfortable if the things I had ordered had made it on time. Actually, the setup I used on the first day is essentially what we use for traveling.

     The key was space, food, and the right type of hide-aways. We were tentative at first. But now, we are best buddies. He's spoiled, and he knows it. We had my brother's kids over one week, and he figured out then that he has it really good and he shouldn't be afraid! He is pretty brave, especially compared to when he first came home with me. And, for someone with such little space for a brain, he's pretty smart!

     His name is Dr. Stretch Pepper. His shelter name was Sgt. Pepper, and it turns out that Ôs because he likes peppers! A pepper is the first thing I was ever able to hand feed him. Stretch comes from his ability to elongate like nobody's business. His nicknames include Dr. Pepper, Dr. Stretch, Dr. S, Mr. Dr., Sweet boy, baby, and silly boy.

     He's curious, not exactly the best detective, but curious. He's learned a word (Gentle) when he's licking the sale off of my fingers and starts to use his teeth, if I tell him to be gentle, he will stop using his teeth! So smart. He also had learned to be patient. When I put this food down in the morning he knows that he had to wait until the bowl goes down to eat, otherwise, he'll get in the way of the bowl! (He learned this by me gentle nudging him out of the way with the bowl when I was trying to put it down. He waits patiently now)

     His hobbies include napping, zooming, popcorning (similar to a bunny binky), purring, eating veggies, exploring, and napping. (Spoiled guinea pig life is tough, many naps are needed)

     He is also known to tell you when you're in his way (even though you are much bigger than he, and you were there first!) and he is a very adamant alarm clock. If I ignore my alarm clock and he hears it, he will wheek until he is sure I am getting up, because "It's Breakfast Time!!!!!!! Yeeaaaaahhh!"

     Guinea pigs have pretty similar temperature gauges to humans, so when I am cold, I go check on him, and if his ears are chilly I'll lay him down on my chest and tuck us into a blanket. He will hang out there until he warms up, and then when he's finished, he will get out and explore on top of the blanket while I finish warming up! It's adorable.

     He also is very much like me. One time he got curious about something outside of one of his cardboard houses, sniffed at it a bit, decided to go back into his house, but forgot that he moved to sniff the thing. So when he turned around to go back into the house he bumped his face on the box. Essentially went "oof" and carried on, pretending that it didn't happen and that nobody saw it. Silly pig.

     We recently visited the shelter he came from (he is a little bit of a celebrity there) and he is doing very well being around other people! He even let a little girl pet him! He and I hang out for at least a half hour every day. I aim for an hour, but, sometimes life or mental illness gets in the way. But this along with visits to the other humans that live in my house and their occasional visits to him (the freezer that lives in the same room as he does), has really helped him be more social with humans. We are also working on the act of being picked up. Held is fine, held is great really, getting picked up though? Meeehhhhh, we have other opinions on that. He likes being held by any human, but definitely knows and prefers mama, grandma is a close second, though she is used to much bigger friends (Saint Bernards) and sometimes worries about handling this little friend.

     Though I will say he has grown quite a bit since I first adopted him! I didn't notice either, one day my best friend came over and goes "he's gotten so big!" and I said "he has???" I had weighed him in November on Thanksgiving, so I decided to weigh him again on the night of the Superbowl, and it turns out he's grown almost a whole pound! He's not fat though, it's just like someone took a picture of him and then zoomed him in! I *think* he's pretty much done growing now, he's reaching the end of guinea pig adolescence, and seems to be getting more comfortable in his body.

     As much as I spend a lot of time taking care of him and doing my best to make him happy, which is sometimes a lot of work, it is work that makes me very happy! I am so happy when he shows are tells me that he is happy. I set up obstacle courses for him to keep him frim getting bired, and yes, he went to see Santa at PetSmart this Christmas.

     We have been great companions for each other. He is good for my mental health, and I help him live a happy, healthy life! He is a very special boy.

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