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Caroline Golon, author of the popular blog Crayons & Collars, shares the stories of pet owners who go the extra mile for their pets in this series, The Things We Do for Love.
There’s nothing quite like being with a group of people who are passionate about the same things you are. Tammy Raabe of Alexandria, Va., loves guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus, also known as cavies) so much that she helped create a guinea pig get-together to share her passion with others.
In 2003, Raabe was already connected with guinea pig lovers worldwide through her educational website, Cavy Madness. But she wanted to meet other cavy owners and their pets in person. Her own posse of pigs, like most of their species, were social and would enjoy the interaction with other guinea pigs.
While guinea pig meetups, known affectionately as “Guinea Pignics,” had already started taking place, they were focused on the breeding and showing aspect of cavy ownership. Raabe, her friend Sally Hurley, and several other local enthusiasts near her then-home in Boston wanted to create something nearby that was pet-friendly and had a rescue and educational element to it. So the Boston-area Guinea Pignic began.
Guinea Pignics aren’t as simple as getting a bunch of owners and their friendly guinea pigs together. The events take careful planning and special precautions to keep the animals safe and owners stress-free.
Raabe says as organizers, they must find an appropriate park, one with grass that has not been chemically fertilized, and that will give them a permit to hold their event there.
At the Boston Pignic, a small group of experienced guinea pig owners volunteer to be the “Pig Patrol” and are available to answer questions, watch over the furry festivities and even offer free pig nail trims. “It’s a day in the park meets community meets classroom,” Raabe explains.
People and their pigs must check in when they arrive. Each guinea pig is inspected for signs of illness before they are permitted into the community pens. And pignics have a strict “no dating” policy for the guinea pigs. Boys and girls must frolic with their same-sex pals in separate pens.
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