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I Love Guinea Pigs (Read and Wonder Books) - Dick King-Smith, Anita Jeram Read in its entirety while it was being passed around at the Oly Reads book group. It was adorable. I had an Abyssinian for a few years around the time I was in grad school. Her name was Magda McGee the Pig from Guinea, and she had these black whorls of fur that stuck out like cowlicks all over the place, like she had permanent bedhead. It was awesome. She was totally fearless. She'd march right up to the cats and sniff at them like she was daring them to mess with her. They never did.

Sometimes I'd take her out of her cage and she'd sit on my chest and watch TV with me. She liked to chew on my hair and run around the couch. Every once in awhile she'd just pop up into the air (the practice is actually called popcorning). Carrots were her favorite thing in the world and she'd screech at me whenever I went to the fridge because she knew the carrots were in there. On very rare occasions she sang.

The night she died was one the saddest of my life. I came home from a night out and stopped to check that she had enough food and water, and she was lying on her side breathing raggedly. I picked her up and held her, not knowing what else to do. I just sat with her for about an hour, stroking her fur and letting her listen to my heartbeat and feel my body warmth, hoping that was giving her some measure of comfort. Finally, I couldn't stay awake any longer and laid her back on the bedding in her cage. When I woke the next morning, she was gone. It was a Sunday and I cried all day. The next day I had her cremated. It cost $25.

I've thought about getting another guinea pig from time to time, but I've never found one with her personality. When I first found Magda at the pet store, it was just right. I knew she was the one that should come home with me. I haven't experienced that again.