Leslie has always had a special place in her heart for guinea pigs. “I’ve been loving guinea pigs since I was a little girl,” she said. “They are the most affectionate, most grateful, cuddly, little animals in the world. I especially love watching them move around when they’re happy, they hop straight up and down and it’s called popping corn. These animals are just so much fun.”
She got her first guinea pig, Nibbles, when she was ten years old. “When I was young, guinea pigs didn’t live very long,” she reminisced. “They never seemed to make it past six months. I know a lot about them now and am much more educated on what they need. I probably give them much better care now than I did when I was young.”
Leslie lavishes a lot of love on her companions. They get fed every morning at 5:00am, in the afternoon, and then later in the evening. Not only does she have them on a regular diet of timothy hay, romaine and endive, and timothy pellets, but she also gives them treats of strawberries, tomatoes, and carrots. She cleans their cages every single day with white vinegar and she puts down fresh fleece for them to enjoy. “I hear there are people who clean their guinea pig cages only once every week, and I think that must be awful for the guinea pigs. They get so excited when they get to go back to their clean cages, so I think they must really appreciate that.” Leslie is also dedicated to administering all necessary health measures. She has to give her oldest guinea pig, Herbert, medicine every four hours around the clock, and her guinea pigs visit the veterinarian on a regular basis. Her animals obviously thrive under her care, Hebert has reached the venerable age of 8, Lucy is 6, and Seven is at least 4 years old.
Leslie’s vigilance in watching out for her animals’ health led her to take Seven to the vet when one morning she discovered that Seven’s bottom teeth were gone and his top teeth appeared to be overgrown. “I took him to see Dr. William Ridgeway at the Long Beach Animal Hospital, but we couldn’t figure out why he lost his bottom teeth,” she said. “I was taking him in to have his top teeth trimmed every four weeks, but one day I looked at his face and it was swollen. He had a huge abscess on the left side of his jaw that needed surgery. He also had to have another surgery when we found that he had a tooth coming out of his neck.”
Unemployed and without the funds to pay for the care Seven needed, Leslie turned to the internet to see if she could find any resources that might be able to provide her with some help. “That’s where I found out about the Angel Fund. I called and spoke with someone very helpful there. They told me to tell my vet about the program and they listed everything he needed to do so I could get the help. I am very, very grateful, because even though I love all three of my guinea pigs, it can be expensive with their health problems.”
But the joy and companionship Leslie receives from her pets is absolutely invaluable to her. “My animals mean the world to me,” she said. “I’m a serious lover of all kinds of animals, but my guinea pigs do genuinely funny things that just always make me laugh. Lucy is a very sweet girl who’s a lot of fun. Herbert is a very feisty pig even though he’s eight, and the bond he and Seven have brings tears to my eyes. I can tell my guinea pigs are grateful for the care I give them, and I’m thankful that the Angel Fund helped me take care of them.”