Guinea pigs en­joy bite of tom­fool­ery

Waikato Times - - News - CATE BROUGHTON

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

PHOTO: JOHN KIRK-AN­DER­SON/STUFF

Licorice All­sorts, left, and Jaffa com­pete in the fastest eater com­pe­ti­tion during the Gar­den City Cavy Club pub­lic show.

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