Guinea pigs enjoy bite of tomfoolery
About 150 guinea pig enthusiasts were enthralled by the high calibre of costumes and speedy grass eaters at the Garden City Cavy Club show in Christchurch at the weekend.
Show secretary Sean MacFarlane said about 40 guinea pigs were entered by mainly child owners in the pet section competition including fancy dress, grass eating and Mr and Mrs Canterbury competitions.
Amber, dressed as a television weather presenter, took out the fancy dress prize much to the delight of her 11-year-old owner, Reuben Frost. Other entries included a rabbit riding a bicycle and a hibernating bear for the category’s autumn theme.
Six finalists in the grass eating race included one contender that lost focus and ate its fancy dress costume instead.
The morning pedigree show was a more serious affair which drew 24 entries from club members. Judge Sandra Smith, who came from Ashburton to do the honours, said she stuck to criteria laid out in the rule book but after an animal met the basic standards for a category things could get more difficult.
‘‘That’s what you call the ‘nitty gritty’ and you take your glasses out and really look carefully for any faults.
‘‘It might have the wrong coloured eyes, or nicks in the ears because it has been in a fight.’’
Sean and Lisa MacFarlane’s guinea pig, Tutti Fruiti, imported from Australian breeder Farrelly for $560, won the best breed for the rex and rough coat categories.
‘‘Yeah, it’s nice to know you spent $560 on a guinea pig and it’s not rubbish,’’ MacFarlane said.
The MacFarlanes have owned guinea pigs for 11 years and currently have 25.
However, recently Lisa developed an allergy to her beloved pets.
Karen Smith* had spent months mentally preparing for the operation. Her sick leave was booked and a relative was flying down from Rotorua to help look after her children.
The 33-year-old Ashburton woman had driven the hour-long trip to Christchurch Hospital, nervous but ready.
Forty minutes before her hysterectomy procedure was to start, it was cancelled.
‘‘I cried. I cried a lot,’’ she said. Her experience is symptomatic of public hospitals’ struggle to keep up with elective surgery needs.
Many pay private providers to carry out publicly-funded elective surgeries in an effort to meet their targets.
District health boards (DHBs) are supposed to treat all patients within 120 days of a procedure being confirmed but, since June 2017, none have met the Ministry of Health-set target.
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) was behind by more than 200 elective surgery discharges in December.
A delay in the construction of a link between the city’s soon-to-becomplete acute services building and the hospital caused a number of elective operations to be postponed or outsourced to private providers, including 32 gynaecology procedures to Southern Cross Hospital, a CDHB spokeswoman said.
Smith, a retail assistant and mother of two, has had major bowel and menstrual problems for the past six years, which have caused constant abdominal pain and bleeding.
After 10 previous failed procedures and medical interventions, a gynaecologist told her in December a hysterectomy was the last option.
It was booked for March 22. She spent the time mentally preparing and ‘‘grieving’’ ahead of the major surgery, which has a three-month recovery period, to remove her uterus.
‘‘Emotionally I was drained. I wasn’t ready to have my ability to have children taken away from me at the age of 33.
‘‘I was worried about how I was going to cope financially, how I was going to cope with my kids, how my partner was going to cope.’’
Smith was looking forward to getting back to full health after the surgery.
‘‘My life has been on hold for six years because I’m constantly waiting for things to improve or for someone to listen or for someone to just do something.’’
Her aunt, who lived in Rotorua, was due to arrive in Christchurch the morning of the surgery and stay for a fortnight to help look after Smith’s two primary schoolaged children.
Smith had been granted up to 12 weeks’ paid sick leave by her employer.
When she arrived at the private Southern Cross Hospital she was told her procedure, under the public health system, would start at 8.30am.
At 7.50am she said a nurse told her it had been cancelled and that she should go home.
‘‘Then I left – and I cried.’’ She made a complaint and said a manager at Christchurch Women’s Hospital called to apologise for the cancellation, saying it was caused by a ‘‘communication error’’.
She was told the surgeon had called in sick to Southern Cross, but the news was not relayed to Christchurch Women’s staff, so
Licorice Allsorts, left, and Jaffa compete in the fastest eater competition during the Garden City Cavy Club public show.