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'guinea pigs'

Jun 18

Communal Grief by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on June 18, 2021 at 12:46 PM by Genesis Gaule

The Library lost our guinea pig, Ivy, this month. One day, she was greeting patrons as they approached her home and the next day, she took ill. We found veterinary care for her and started her on a prescribed medical care plan. Unfortunately, it was not successful and the next day Ivy died.  

Ivy eating hay while standing on her hind legs
The suddenness of her death surprised our staff and we comforted each other with, “She didn’t suffer long.” and “She had a happy life.” There were tears and shared stories about our little friend. Our focus turned toward supporting her sister, Bean, who is healthy and has taken on greeting all our patrons.  

As a public figure, Ivy had a following. Patrons of all ages swung by before or after finding library materials to say hi and smile at the popcorn jumps and squeaks. During quarantine, we kept the public informed as to the sisters’ activities and how much they missed their fans.  Pictures were often included and we are certain they brought smiles to our patrons while separated by quarantine precautions.  

Ivy and Bean Back at the Library

The sisters did not look alike at all. Ivy was a summer tan with highlights while Bean has ruffled black fur. We kept pictures with their names at the cage so patrons could chat with each one when visiting. The sisters played and performed together. Like many sisters I know, they also fought over attention and oftentimes, food.  

Guinea pigs love to eat. They love treats as much as hay. As staff, it is our duty to keep an eye on what they consume. Patrons bring greens and veggies from their gardens in the summer which are big hits! Our little friends are only fed by staff with an occasional guest pass attended by staff.  

Ivy the library guinea pig 3
There is a hole in the atmosphere at the library without Ivy. Many visitors ask about her.  “Where is she?” As a public figure, her life was on display all the time. Explaining to families, adults and children, what happened to Ivy is not easy. We’re gentle but honest. There are also many library books on losing a pet friend that can be used for support.

Grief is not easy for anyone at any age, but there is a strength in sharing it. We comfort each other by telling and hearing stories about our little friend, Ivy. Simply said aloud by a young patron, “That’s sad,” connects us. One young boy told me that Guinea Pig Heaven is just like Dog Heaven so she would be OK. Adults commented how they’ll miss her just as staff does.  

Ivy is missed and remembered. This past year brought loss of all sorts to many of us. The grief is real and so is the strength of community to help carry the burden. 

Books to Read Together
Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

Need help starting a conversation about the death of a pet with your child? Here is a short guide with helpful tips on processing the loss of a loved one with children.
Mar 19

Ivy and Bean, Library Stars by Andrea Lorenz

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on March 19, 2021 at 11:20 AM by Genesis Gaule

Two of the hottest attractions at the library for the past three years are our guinea pigs, Ivy and Bean. Ivy and Bean came into the library courtesy of an animal-loving library assistant who wanted nothing more than for the library to have a pet. She did her research and used her persuasive skills to win over the library director. One quick trip to Petsmart and two little guinea pigs became library stars.

BeanAfter much library staff debate, the girls (because they are girls) were named Ivy and Bean after the titular characters in Annie Barrows’ beloved chapter book series (though my personal favorite choice for their names is still Tater and Lil Spud). Ivy is light brown with some darker speckling and Bean is black with longer hair that sticks up in every direction.

Ivy and Bean loved storytime and could frequently be seen “popcorning” (or jumping straight up in the air in joy) when little kids came to see them. One of the first and most frequent questions we got after we closed down during the pandemic was “What about the guinea pigs!?” They stayed with their favorite library assistant for a while, but came back when employees started coming back to work in the building.

IvyIvy and Bean love books (mostly Bean, but Ivy is content to listen when stories are read to her), but they hate having their nails clipped. They love fresh veggies and yogurt snacks and can frequently be seen burrowing into their fleece blankets or hanging out in their igloo. They’ve participated in two Stuffed Animal Sleepovers, been present for close to 100 storytimes, and entertained probably around three times as many children and adults. Guinea pigs are great library pets – they’re relatively hypoallergenic, very small, pretty quiet, and very cute.

If Ivy and Bean have stolen your hearts, like they’ve stolen ours, consider supporting them. We accept donations of aspen bedding, fortified guinea pig food, timothy hay, fleece for blankets, chew treats, toys, and monetary support.

If you’d like to learn more about guinea pigs, check out:

Pet Guinea Pigs Up Close

by Brynn Baker
Easy 636.9 BAKER

Get Crafting for Your Gorgeous Guinea Pig

by Ruth Owen
Easy 745.5 OWEN


100 Fun Facts About Hamsters, Mice, Guinea Pigs, and More
by Rose Davidson
Easy 599.35 DAVIDSON

Guinea Pigs As a New Pet

by Stephen Nelson
636 NEL

Noisy Nibblers

by Felicia Macheske
Easy Reader Blue 636.935 MACHESKE