A SMILING DELIA ASKS IF I COULD DO HER A FAVOUR.... - 18/03/2011
could I possibly pick up a few guinea pigs on Monday that were coming into another local rescue centre as she and Jim would be away for a few days. Yes, no problem, I smiled back only to be greeted with hugs and a chorus of ‘you’re wonderful’ from Delia and fellow volunteer Tracey.
The ‘few’ guinea pigs suddenly turned into 19! Still it was just a case of picking them up, bringing them back to the centre, booking them in and overseeing their onward journey to foster homes. A couple of phone calls later and arrangements were made to collect the guinea pigs at 2pm. Shirley & Nadine had already teed up the foster carers and Nadine phoned around to arrange for them to collect between 3.30 – 5pm giving us plenty of time for the booking in – all sorted!
Monday morning arrived, and after a visit to the vet, I arrived at Bobtails about 11am. Tracey, Sarah & Alex had been busy getting all the other cleaning and feeding carried out. I busied myself sorting out carriers and getting the Med Shed ready for the arrivals. With Sarah & Alex staying on site to get as much paperwork ready as possible while Tracey & I went to pick up everything was under control – we even managed a quick sandwich before we left.
It was then that things started to go downhill. Tracey & I arrived at 2pm for the pick up only to find the guinea pigs hadn’t arrived at the other rescue yet. 3pm came and went and still no sign of the guinea pigs. There was by now a group of people waiting with carriers as a total of about 100 guinea pigs were expected. We then found out that the woman bringing them in was still trying to catch the pigs and hadn’t left home but would be on her way soon. Frantic phone calls followed to Nadine to delay the foster carers and to Sarah back at the centre.
4pm came and went and still no sign of the guinea pigs although we were assured it wouldn’t be long. Finally just after 4.30pm they arrived. More frantic phone calls to Nadine to get the foster carers back on stand by to pick up from 6pm and to Sarah just to ensure she was still awake and ready for us arriving back at the centre. It was then a case of sorting out the group, checking sexes and getting the correct numbers into carriers for us and the other rescues involved.
With the car loaded up we made our way back to Bobtails and started the task of booking all the piggies in. Tracey & Sarah set to work in the Med Shed doing health checks and admission paperwork for each pig. Once this was done I popped them one by one into an outside pen to have their photo taken. Alex had had to go home before we got back so I was battling by myself to hold some very stressed, skittish guinea pigs still with one hand and take a photo with the other – things weren’t going too well for me. Fortunately, at this point Laura (Delia & Jim’s daughter) came out of the house to see what was happening. Before she could say “guinea pig rescue” I’d seconded her to hold the little poppets still while I lined up the camera.
Instead of getting easier, things started to get even more confusing for myself and Laura. The guinea pigs were in groups of up to six and we were trying to match the paperwork prepared by Tracey & Sarah to each pig so we knew who we were taking photos of. Looking at the descriptions we had ‘Black, White & Tan’ while the next piece of paper was for a ‘White, Black & Tan’ guinea pig! or a ‘Cream & White’ guinea pig as opposed to a ‘White & Cream’ one. We resorted to laying out all the pieces of paper for each grouping and working through all the paperwork and guinea pigs to sort out who was who. This was working up to a point but the wind was picking up and we then spent a fun few minutes chasing admission forms around the garden. Having got the papers weighted down we realised all the guinea pigs had moved around in the carrier and the one we had definitely indentified standing in the right hand corner of the carrier had vanished under a mass of furry bodies.
We decided to start with a pair of males and work our way up to the bigger groups of girls as and we felt we could cope with this. The problem with this was by now it was starting to get dark but we bravely battled on with much debate over ‘have we done this one yet’ – thank God for digital cameras so we could go back and check.
By this time the foster carers were arriving to pick up their charges. Sarah & Tracey had sensibly stayed in the Med Shed leaving Laura & I to play in the garden. Sarah had the foster forms ready and was able to quickly fill in the names of the guinea pigs once we had finally managed to photograph an entire group and they were ready to go off.
Laura & I eventually gave up in the garden and photographed the last pair of males in the shed. The last of the foster carers arrived and everyone went safely off to their foster homes. It had now gone 7pm (but felt like 11pm) and we decided that tidying the Med Shed was out of the question that night and could wait until morning. I grabbed my camera and headed for home and a much needed beer.
I then sat down at my computer to load on all the pictures and cross reference again with the paperwork to ensure I had who was who correctly. About an hour later I finally managed to get the last of the somewhat fuzzy and strange photos onto the website.
I think the three things I have learnt from this experience is
1) Despite all the planning these things never go as smoothly as you hope
2) I’m really not very good at taking animal photos (I’m sure Will & Sarah will do some of their lovely updated photos when they get back from holiday)
3) I must learn to run when Delia smiles at me and asks for a little favour!!