Guinea pigs have a unique way of telling you when they want attention. And when they want attention, they want it now! Alfalfa has his rare moments of attention seeking. He sometimes enjoys my touch and company. When I see that he wants attention, I go out of my way to acknowledge it and reward him for it. I hope to reinforce the behavior as desirable. One morning Alfalfa was in a particularly needy mood. He wanted to be picked up and held from the moment I woke up. I happily meet his request as I went about my morning routine. It was a bit awkward to make and eat my breakfast with one arm. However, it was worth it.
When I went to take my shower, I had to put him down. He protested loudly. I got the ‘pick me up now’ dance and noises. I tried to reason with my guinea pig. “Alfalfa, I need to go in the shower,” I said petting his head. “You don’t like the bathroom because of the water. You hate going in there because you think I’m going to give you a bath.” He responded with a loud squeal of protest. “Ok, mom’s going in the shower now,” I said in a comforting tone. He squealed in a louder tone again. I walked towards the bathroom and he was at my heels.
As I walked into the bathroom, the guinea pig followed me. He was making cooing noises at me. I turned and said, “Sweetie-pie, you need to wait outside.” I gingerly picked him up and placed him outside of the room. He gave me the most heartbreaking look he could muster as I closed the door. The moment he disappeared from view he began to squeal at the top of his lungs. I thought that he would stop as soon as he figured I was not letting him into the bathroom…. Wrong.
I started my shower and got in. Alfalfa got louder as I went through my routines. My upstairs neighbor must have been brought awake by my naughty guinea pig. I heard pounding from the ceiling. Sighing, I got out of the shower dripping wet and went to the door. When I opened it, Alfalfa darted into the room. “Fine,” I said relenting to my guinea pig’s demands. “Fine. You can stay in here. Just be quiet.” He looked at me and cooed. I sighed and got back into the shower.
Alfalfa began to squeal again. I stuck my head out of the shower, “Stop, guinea pig. Just stop,” I said. He was quiet. I went back behind the curtain. He started up again. “Alfalfa pig!” I chided. He stopped again. My silence brought on a deathly squeal. “What am I going to do with you?” I asked in frustration as I stuck my head out of the shower. He stopped the noise. “What? You need to see me to make sure I’m here today?” I took the shower head and pointed towards the wall of the shower. I opened the curtain so my guinea pig could watch me shower. “Why am I doing this for you?” I asked.
Taking a shower with the curtain open is very cold. I turned up the heat to as hot as I could stand it. I tried to continue with my shower as normally as possible. But, I had this sense of paranoia and as if someone was watching me. ‘He’s only a guinea pig,’ I thought to myself. ‘He doesn’t care what you look like butt naked…’ It took all of my will power not to turn and look at Alfalfa. The thought kept racing through my mind. After the hundredth time, I relented to the urge to look. I turned to see the guinea pig staring at me in fascination. “You are watching me!” I said. Alfalfa turned his head and averted his eyes. He put his head down in what seemed like a gesture of shame. “Guinea pig,” I said with a tone of disapproval and pulled the curtain closed again.
Alfalfa began to squeal at me. I did not relent to his demands. “I am not coming out and I am not opening the shower curtain for you again, you brat!” I told my guinea pig. I quickly finished my shower and wrapped up in a towel. Like an automatic off button, Alfalfa stopped his protest the moment I opened the curtain. “Oh, boy, pig…” I said. I got out, dried and dressed. The guinea pig was quiet and content to sit and watch me. I finished my morning routine and opened the bathroom door. I walked out and sat on the couch to put on my shoes. Alfalfa was at my feet.
“Dude,” I said as I petted his head, “You’re going to make me late. Go eat your breakfast.” He sat and watched me. I picked him up when I was done with my shoes. I petted him and kissed his head. “Ok, buddy, I need to leave for work. You’ve eaten up all of my free time…” I said to his ear. Kissing him, I put him back down on the floor and went to the coat rack for my coat. The moment I grabbed it he started to run around in circles and squealing. “Alfalfa!” I said and he stopped.
I bent over to talk to my guinea pig at his level. “Look, I need to go to work. You know those carrots you like so much?” I explained. “I have to make the money to buy those for you. If you are a good pig today, I will bring home something nice for you. Ok?” Alfalfa looked at me as if he understood. I stood up, gathered my items and went to my door. I opened it and walked out. Looking back I said, “Be good!” I closed the door and locked it. Alfalfa started to squeal at the top of his lungs. “Oh, no…” I said as I shook my head. I needed to get to work. I had to leave my guinea pig. Hearing his squeals broke my heart as I left. I thought, ‘Poor guy…’ as I walked up the stairs. My baby was sad and wanted to be held. ‘Oh, my heart is breaking,’ I thought.