Daphne and Sienna, Therapy Guinea Pigs Supporting Hospice
While the guinea pigs were registered as therapy pets in January, Erin has enjoyed guinea pigs for more than three years and shares them with her husband and daughter. Daphne and Sienna, when not hard at work, join three other female guinea pigs in a large pen in the Maggard’s living room. Daphne is docile while Sienna is shy but calm.
Why didn’t all of Erin’s guinea pigs join her? Being a therapy pet requires very special traits. Erin’s three other female cavies are fun at home but don’t have personalities suited for therapy work. Rosie, an albino with striking red eyes, was considered for therapy registration, but there was concern that her red eyes might make people feel uneasy. Val, adopted from a friend who could no longer care for her, is the most active guinea pig and never sits still. Sally, their newest addition, is still a bit skittish and shy. Erin tells Guinea Pig Today, “Her personality reminds me of that of a cat – she can be affectionate or stand-offish, depending on her mood.”
Daphne and Sienna have a special talent for sitting long periods at a time and Erin decided only these two sows would be registered. After supporting hospice for 25 years, Erin had a hunch guinea pigs would work well with patients who benefit from animal visitation but have difficulty working with the therapy dogs. Daphne and Sienna weigh less than two pounds and can gently lay on patients while being stroked.
Being a working pet doesn’t mean Daphne and Sienna don’t still appreciate the finer joys of day to day guinea pig life. “The girls have a brand-new two story C&C enclosure that I just built last weekend so right now they spend lots of time still exploring and playing,” Erin tells us. “They LOVE to play in the hay – Daphne especially loves to burrow in it.” When it comes to food, these piggies are no slouches either. “When they hear the refrigerator door, hear us chopping veggies, or see one of us come into the room from the kitchen, they stand up on their hind legs and wheek for treats. Val is particularly good at standing on her hind legs. Sally and Val are our best popcorners as well – they love to run and popcorn when they are excited.”
These hard working guinea girls deserve the popularity that comes with being a working pet. They’ve been featured in articles by The Associated Press and have drawn media attention from across the country. You can connect with these two miracle workers through their Facebook page or check out the Pet Partner’s website for more information on therapy animals.
For patients in special care, visiting with pets is the highlight of their day. Discovering the pet is a guinea pig and not a dog is an even bigger surprise. Daphne and Sienna truly prove that good things come in small packages.
If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.