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I’m Sierra. I live in the Boston area with my family.

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The Problem with Guinea Pigs

by Sierra on July 2, 2012 · 24 comments

in Uncategorized

So we have these two baby guinea pigs now; they’ve been here for about two weeks during which time they’ve nearly doubled in size. They’re extremely cute and docile; the kids are wildly in love with them. I doubt I’ll ever bond with a guinea pig, but even I have to admit these little guys are sweet. The girls have named them Cocoa and Fuzzy.

Here’s the problem: Martin’s girlfriend is terribly allergic to them. So allergic she can’t come in the house at all.

I wish I’d known about this before we adopted them. The whole process happened kind of fast, and it didn’t occur to me that someone I love might be badly impacted by us getting guinea pigs. I didn’t even know it was possible to be allergic to them.

Now the kids are super attached to these little creatures, but they’ve made it impossible for one of our favorite people to visit us.

I’m not sure what to do. I want to support the kids having childhood pets, and the guinea pigs are really cute. But I also want to have our friends and loved ones be welcome in our home; people matter more to me than pets, as a rule.

Should I be looking for a new home for our guinea pigs? How would you handle this situation?

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  • Sam H.

    What do the kids think?

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    I’m waiting to talk to them about it until I have a better handle on what *I* think. I want their input, but I don’t want the weight of this decision to rest on them.

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    You might be surprised. Especially if your kids have a good relationship with this person, they may offer to find a new home for the fuzzybutts, or have an idea for an alternate idea. For example, if keeping the cage very clean and vacuuming the house right before she comes over and maybe throwing sheets over the couches right before a guest comes over will mean that they can hang out with someone they love, it may be enough of a motivator to get them committed to it. Otherwise they may know one of their friends who might be interested.

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    That’s a very grounded approach, thank you.

  • RobB

    Any chance you can move the fuzzbutts (as we call them) to an outdoor or garage hutch? It depends greatly on your climate but may be a middle-ground for your family.

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    I wish! That does sound like a great solution, but we have no outbuildings or space to put one.

    [Reply]

  • Walthamolian

    See if someone in your larger community would adopt them and allow some visitation by your daughters.  Sounds like an ideal lesson in reality and letting go. Allergies happen.

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    This is the solution my husband is hoping for. We’re going to have a family meeting about it and then probably do something like this if possible.

    [Reply]

  • Meagan

    Do you have a basement? My niece’s bunny lives in the basement and it doesn’t bother me at all unless I go downstairs. Otherwise… How does your friend respond to benydril? I’m allergic to almost everything, and benydril keeps it under control.., but I’m also apparently among the .05% of people who doesn’t fall asleep the second the little pink pill touches my lips.

    Meagan

    http://hadesarrow.com/blog

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    We do have a basement but it’s not really a safe place to keep pets. It’s a dingy new england basement. I’ll ask her about the Benadryl, but I bet she’s thought of that, sadly. It’d be nice if this had an easy fix.

    [Reply]

  • Manda99

    Has she been specifically tested for an allergy to guinea pigs? If so, then the only option other than relocation with visitation to preserve the relationship would be immunology (allergy shots).

    However, without testing, it’s possible that she’s actually allergic to the bedding or something else in the house.

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    I don’t know if she’s been tested, but I trust her sense of what’s causing the allergy. It might be worth some discussion before we do something drastic like relocate the piggies.

    [Reply]

  • Erin

    My primary partner has found the homeopathic pet allergy (Animal Hair and Dander) by bioAllers to be AMAZING — they were able to be in their parents carpeted, never cleaned house and breathe like a normal person.  I know it sucks to have to ask someone to take some form of medicine before they come to your house but you could offer to buy/provide it for her. 

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    That’s a great suggestion, thank you!

    [Reply]

  • Morghan

    People are more important than piggies, but they’re also better able to adapt than a captive animal. You can visit her, meet at the local park if it’s close, or go out somewhere else. I know people with dog allergies, and they have no problem with meeting me out somewhere rather than coming over, and unless she’s a live-in there’s really no reason to traumatize the kids when most reasonable adults will be more than willing (and capable) of working around the problem.

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    It’s a good point, and clearly we won’t move the pigs to a new home if it will traumatize the kids. Our friend with the allergy doesn’t live here, but she does visit often and while meeting out at a park is a great solution for summer, it will be hard in the winter months.
    Thanks for your perspective; this is a lot to think about.

    [Reply]

  • Jilly

    Could they live in a bedroom with a closed door? I have a couple of small HEPA filters that I run to help with my allergies. Then your friend might still be able to visit.

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    that’s a possibility, and one we’re discussing. I have some concerns about it, but it might be worth trying before we move them on to a new home.

    [Reply]

  • Gelflinggirl

    First, I second the idea of keeping them in a different area of the house where the allergens can be walled/doored off from spaces J might be in.
    Second, it is possible it’s the bedding she’s allergic to and not the beasts.
    Third, if you got a different kind of enclosure for them, one with solid walls, I bet things would be a lot better.  My best friend growing up kept her guinea pig in a home-modified rubber-maid container and it was fine for her very allergic mother.

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    Wow! Thanks for those suggestions.

    [Reply]

    Priscilla Reply:

     Maybe fine for her mother, but not for the guinea pigs! Guinea pigs need a lot of ventilation. A solid-walled container is not healthy. Imagine being in a closet with almost no airflow, all day every day :(

    http://www.guineapigcages.com/

    [Reply]

  • Sarah Twichell

    I third the idea of trying out segregation if J thinks it’s possible that it might work.  You might need to seriously clean the house before it’s possible to tell; I lived with someone with a pretty intense dust allergy for a while and learned more than I ever wanted to know about all of the places allergens can hide out.  

    For me, it would also matter how much it puts a damper on Martin and J’s relationship for her not to be able to come in the house.  If your house is, for whatever reason, the primary or best location for dates, it would lean me in the direction of prioritizing the person.  If there’s another equally workable location, I might try harder for a middle ground solution.

    [Reply]

  • Nancewithbluepants

    awe guinea pigs are so cute,  maybe you could segregate them into a back porch area and take the cage outside to the shed, or garage  an hour before her visit, and air the house out before she comes..or enjoy outside visits 

    [Reply]

    Sierra Reply:

    I think we’re going to try sealing them away upstairs…

    [Reply]

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