I use this blog to write about my toy collection, hence the title “Mike’s Collection”. It’s the only blog I have. I don’t have a diary/journal type of blog where I can talk about slice-of-life type things so I hope you don’t mind if I veer off topic this one time to talk about something non-toy related. I want to talk about my guinea pig, Winkerton. I don’t mean to imply at all that Winkerton was a part of my collection by writing about her on this blog. She was my beloved pet and friend and she passed away in my arms a few hours ago.
My family had a dog named Girl when I was very young but for most of my life we had cats when I was growing up. Our first cat was Cloudy and she was gifted to my brother Doug from our grandfather. Then my sister Angie got Thunder and later my sister Katie got Drizzle who was later followed by Tux. The first pets I owned that I could really call my own (with the exception of some fish) were four white mice. Their names were Artie, Vince, Trent, and Ozzie. They were cute but quite vicious towards one another so I eventually had to keep them all in separate cages. I enjoyed having a small animal ever present in my room to talk to but the mice were not a very affectionate bunch. I never felt like they recognized or knew me. I considered getting a rat because my friend Ross had one and it seemed much more aware then my mice did but I knew my mom would freak out if I ever tried to bring a rat into the house. After perusing the pet stores I decided that a guinea pig might be what I was looking for. They weren’t as skittish as mice, didn’t have long creepy tails like rats, they weren’t as stinky as ferrets, and they weren’t as boring as hedgehogs. It was some years after my mice were all gone that my then girlfriend Toni got me a guinea pig for Christmas. I named her Wheels.
Wheels was an awesome guinea pig who loved to curl up in the pouch of my hoodies and watch movies with me. She was quite affectionate. After a while I felt bad that she was all alone in her cage so I got her a companion whom I named Widget. There was an adjustment period but I like to think they became friends before too long. Widget had lots of personality. I used to put her on the floor of my apartment and she would chase me around like we were playing tag. I probably went overboard when I bought a third pig whom I named Waffles. A week or two after I bought Waffles she had a baby and I now suddenly had 4 guinea pigs in one cage. My 3 pigs were all girls and the baby was a boy who would be sexually active in a matter of weeks so I had to find another home for him quickly before I found myself with a dozen guinea pigs. Toni and I had split by then and I had moved into a bachelor apartment but she offered to take the baby off my hands. She named him Baby and he lived a good life.
After 4 years together Wheels passed away. Widget passed away about a year later. She was also around 4 years old. Both went quickly and quietly. It was at about the 4-year mark for Waffles too when she got sick. Unlike the others she hung in there for more than a week before she passed. I took her to the vet and got her medication but it killed me to watch her suffer like that. After she was gone and I found myself pigless for the first time in about 6 years I decided I would not be getting another.
Waffles’ death occurred shortly after a 4 year relationship ended. I was pretty down in the dumps already and coming home to an empty apartment everyday didn’t help. If you weren’t aware, guinea pigs actually make a lot of noise. They squeak all the time and sometimes its almost like they’re singing. They shuffle around in their wood chips and they click on the water bottles. I had become so accustomed to those sounds over the years that once they were gone completely the silence was deafening. I lasted about a week before I went looking for a new guinea pig companion. I found Winkerton.
I had originally planned to break the W-names pattern and name her Pinkerton after my favorite Weezer album but at the last minute I decided on Winkerton to honour the pigs that came before her. Having another living thing to talk to in my bachelor apartment meant the world to me during that rough patch. My action figures are great and I love them but they’ll never love me back. I’m pretty sure Winkerton did. Her cage was on my computer desk and she always pressed her nose up to the glass to see what I was doing whenever I was on the computer. She liked it when I petted her and she never shied away from attention. We were quite close in those early days and I took her out of the cage all the time.
After a while I met Vanessa and we moved in together. We got a large 2-bedroom apartment which was a nice upgrade from the bachelor. Winkerton got her own table next to the patio door. I hope she liked it there because she got lots of sunlight and had a view of the outside but the days of watching me at the computer were gone. I still talked to her often and went over to pet her frequently but I never spent any real time over by her table. I feel bad about that. Even when Vanessa and I separated for a while and I moved into my current apartment I relied on Winkerton to keep me company but I didn’t take her out of her cage as much as I should have. She loved running around the floor and exploring the place. I may not have been as attentive an owner as I should have been the last little while but I still think she was happy.
I was out at Vanessa’s last night and I returned home this afternoon to find Winkerton on her side and breathing heavily. I wrapped her in a towel and held her while she trembled and wheezed until she was gone. It was tough. My eyes are still red and my cheeks are still wet. She was with me longer than any of my previous guinea pigs and she saw me through tougher times. It’s Thanksgiving today in Canada and I’m thankful that she held on long enough for me to see her off. Had I returned home to find her already gone I’d be plagued with guilt for a long time to come.
Winky was a great pet. I don’t plan on replacing her anytime soon but if the silence gets too loud again you never know. It’s already too quiet in here. Rest in peace Winkerton. Thanks for indulging me guys, back to toys next time.