The levitating guinea pig

It’s not just people who get blindsided by their lack of common sense on an entertainingly regular basis. Animals, especially pets, seem to exhibit the same trait to the extent it makes me worry they might have caught it from us. I can’t help but think that one of the reasons that humanity developed such a penchant for scoffing at the consequences of one’s foolhardiness was the instant smartening-up effect that open ridicule seems to have on imprudent creatures, be they human or not. Have you ever laughed hard at your pet after it’s done something dim-witted, just to be dumbfounded by the animal proceeding to deliver its best impression of indignation and resentment as if it knew it was being mocked? Well if you haven’t, you’ve either never had a pet or you’ve fallen behind in your ability to recognise a valid cue for laughter, which may be something you should be looking into if you wish to make the best of the time you were given.

I’m far from unique in the fact that I keep guinea pigs, but those of you who share my bliss of having them as pets, have you ever seen one of them levitate? Well I have and here’s how it happened… A couple of years ago, I was rambling about the cutest guinea pig I’d spotted in a pet shop at the mall and my sweetheart was careless enough to blurt out, ‘Why didn’t you buy him then?’ which of course was promptly interpreted by me as an expression of his profound desire for sharing a pet with me, something bigger and cuddlier than the spiders we sub-let some of the less-frequented corners of our tiny flat to in exchange for their mosquito-extermination services.

(I grew up around animals and consequently I find it hard to be emotionally content if there are none nearby, which makes it very easy for me to assume everybody feels the same way and needs a pet to feel complete. Faulty as it may be, this logic has nonetheless effectively warded off the people who can’t stand animals and conveniently shrunk my dating pool to a navigable size.)

Well next time my darling came home he was greeted by the sight of our already small bedroom having been reduced to half its size by a large cage, inhabited not by one but two juvenile guinea pigs, both girls and properly traumatised by whatever had been going on in the pet shop before they struck lucky and went home with me.

(Before you judge me for handing my money to pet traders, please know that the chance you’ll find a guinea pig in an animal shelter in Slovenia is close to zero. I could venture a guess that the good folks who end up with more guinea pigs than they can pawn off on their friends, go and clandestinely release their extra piglets in the wild. Which of course leaves the unwanted cavy with about 60 seconds to enjoy the newly-found freedom before a buzzard swoops down on him thinking, ‘it must be my birthday’.)

The young sows quickly began to adapt to their new environment but even the most experienced pet owner cannot make post-traumatic stress disorder go away just like that and our piglets tended to get quite strong-willed in the most inappropriate of moments. So there came this day when I lay a protective sheet on the bed, slumped down and waited for my dear to bring the piglets over so we could all watch TV together. He successfully delivered one piggy but when he picked up the other one, she decided it would be such a marvellous idea to wrestle free from his hold and leap. When I turned my head to see what prompted my man to emit a desperate shriek – you know, this particular sound one makes upon realising a fragile creature has been dropped – I was faced with a guinea pig levitating above the bed.

This might be a good time to mention that my piglet wasn’t magical and neither was anything I ate for lunch. What I saw was just the laws of kinematics in action. Guinea pigs are bouncy and so was the mattress that the thoughtless rodent was lucky enough to land on. Thus the piglet was promptly sent flying into the air. If your physics teacher was any good, you will remember that when an object (or an astounded pet) is propelled straight up, it achieves its maximum height at the point when its velocity is reduced to zero – well, that was the exact moment my gaze met my pet, seemingly motionless in the air except for her little pink feet paddling like crazy, before the force of gravity took care of things and delivered the piglet back to the mattress. Who knows; it if wasn’t for the enormous roar of my relief-fuelled guffawing that spoiled it for her, she might have enjoyed the whole experience and made this a regular thing each time she was picked up from the cage. Laughter does seem to cure many things, even foolishness.

But, my airborne guinea pig barely makes it to the list when it comes to pets that made me laugh the hardest. Maybe next time I’ll tell you about my breakdancing dog :)

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