Bethlehem Press

Friday, July 28, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY BUD COLEBud and Bev Cole and a dog named Blue in backyard of their Northampton area home. PRESS PHOTO BY BUD COLEBud and Bev Cole and a dog named Blue in backyard of their Northampton area home.

Guinea pigs and a stowaway remembered by Breinigsville and Catasauqua readers

Friday, March 17, 2017 by BUD COLE Special to The Press in Focus

Third of four parts

Editor’s Note: Here are some more favorite pet stories from readers of the Lehigh Valley Press.

Debbie Garlicki of Breinigsville sent in this pet story:

“My husband and I read your columns and love them in the Parkland Press. We’re glad to see you are back. Your column about Little Bear, Charcole and Blue was very touching.

“My husband, Joel Bieler, and I have had guinea pigs, or cavies, for 18 years. They are amazing, curious and intelligent animals, but to our dismay, we find that they often are treated as second-class pets by people who have not spent time with them.

“Friends, who are ‘dog people’ and ‘cat people’ don’t seem to understand our love for our two-pound friends. We often are asked, ‘Well, what do they do?’

“They have fascinating behaviors and different personalities you get to know when you spend time with them. And, as with other pets, the more time you spend with them, the more you bond.

“We’ve had eight guinea pigs so far. Two are still with us. Unfortunately, the average age is five years.

“We had one guinea pig, Mysza, who lived to be seven-years-old, which is long for a guinea pig. She loved blueberries, so maybe the antioxidant properties in blueberries do work and they contributed to her longevity. The way I figured it, a natural treat was better than a store-bought one with artificial ingredients.

“Six of our piggies died or were euthanized. It never gets easier. New tears are shed, and another hole opens in your heart.

“There are so many memories of each of our piggies, but our first guinea pig, Rusty, was very special. Rusty would come when you called her. We would take Rusty out of her cage at special times during the week and give her the run of the first floor of our house. Of course, as with other pets, everything had to be made ‘piggy-proofed.’

“While decorating our first Christmas tree after Joel and I were marred, Rusty occasionally ran into the room to check on what we were doing.

“Two large jingle bells, tied together with red and green ribbon, were lying on the floor. Rusty entered the room, snatched the ribbon and ran off with the bells jingling behind her.

“Joel and I roared with laughter. We took the bells from her, but minutes later, she returned, picked the ribbon up with her teeth and ran off with the bells again. It had become a game.

“Since then, those bells go on the tree near the top, next to a branch holding an ornament with a photograph of Rusty.

“Rusty was fearless for her size. She became best friends with our tuxedo cat, Nixnutz, who should have been her archenemy viewing her as prey, but those are stories for another time. I could go on for hours about the antics and affection of Rusty and our other seven guinea pigs. Each one had her own unique personality and characteristics.

“Keep up the good work writing.”

This story was sent in by Elizabeth Arey of Catasauqua:

“Our dog, Fifi, came into our lives in June 1990 in a most unusual way.

“Where her journey started we do not know. It ended with her riding on top of a coal car on a freight train headed for the railroad yard at the Bethlehem Steel Corp, plant on Bethlehem’s south side.

“As the workers were ready to dump the load of coal, one of the men saw movement at the top of the pile and climbed up to check. Sitting there was a frightened miniature poodle as black as the pile of coal on which she sat. He gently carried her down and called the plant patrol.

“My husband, Bill, was working at the main gate as a security guard. Plant patrol brought the dog to Bill’s shanty and told him someone from the local SPCA would soon be coming to the gate to pick up the dog.

“It was obvious the dog needed medical attention and grooming. She was not able to stand on her back legs. Being an animal lover, Bill told the plant patrol he would take her home and adopt her.

“Following a complete exam, our vet felt it was possible she was dropped or fell from an overpass as the train passed underneath and the fall had injured her back legs. She was already spayed and about 10- or 11-years-old.

“We took Fifi to be groomed and after she healed from her trauma, she took over a corner of our sofa as her ‘throne.’ We already had a black lab and a Pomeranian. Both dogs accepted her and Fifi became a loving member of our family for four years before she passed away.

“Every pet owner is a better person due to sharing their love with a pet.”

That’s the way we see it!

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