Hip­ster pet­sit­ting a good test for fu­ture

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian. mi­randa mur­phy

WE’RE un­der pres­sure to get a dog.

So when a school friend asked if we would be keen to look after their guinea pigs for the hol­i­days, I thought it might be a good dry-run in pet care.

A cou­ple of ter­rier-sized, lux­u­ri­ously coif­fured ve­g­ans camp­ing in our back­yard for two weeks.

What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

They even ar­rived with bunches of their favourite foods – kale and hay, which com­bined to­gether in the tummy make the ro­dent equiv­a­lent of a wheat­grass smoothie.

Yep, we were babysit­ting hip­ster guinea pigs.

But god, the stress of keep­ing them alive.

There’s a cer­tain kind of worry that comes with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of not ac­ci­den­tally killing some­one else’s pet.

And we didn’t have a good record.

Just weeks after meet­ing our neigh­bours we agreed to feed their gold­fish, Darth Vader, while they were away.

Pre­dictably, Darth Vader crossed over to the dark side.

Another time, at our an­nual house-sit­ting gig, the res­i­dent dog swal­lowed a Christ­mas or­na­ment.

He was fine – but we spent the fes­tive sea­son wait­ing for a very small ver­sion of Santa Claus to emerge from a darker lo­ca­tion than a well-used chim­ney.

So the past school hol­i­days were a fort­night of nag­ging anx­i­ety as I be­came ob­sessed with our adopted crit­ters’ well­be­ing.

The weather didn’t help – was it too windy for the guineas? Too wet, too cold? I cov­ered their cage with a wa­ter­proof blan­ket (or two) and fret­ted through­out the night.

As I wan­dered around the local mar­ket stall one Sun­day morn­ing, I mar­velled at the ar­ray of fresh spring pro­duce.

Ooh, crip­plingly ex­pen­sive baby as­para­gus – would the guineas like that?

Frozen peas again for the kids, though.

I can’t imag­ine the sort of masochist who would agree to take care of the school pet for the hol­i­days.

Imag­ine the 22 brim­ming lit­tle sets of eyes when you tell them X, the class ham­ster, is now the ex-class ham­ster.

Any­way, I’d bet­ter go and check on the guinea pigs, and maybe give them some mint to snack on.

It makes their breath all fresh. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

There’s a cer­tain kind of worry that comes with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of not ac­ci­den­tally killing some­one else’s pet.

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