How a Guinea Pig Helped Me Clean the House

Teddy R. Pigg

Teddy R. Pigg

The day the new guinea pig came home, I cleaned the bathroom.

It’s not that I don’t usually clean the bathroom. It just doesn’t get as spaces-between-the-tiles scoured as it perhaps should. I also seem to have a blind spot to all the long hair I shed, even with pointed reminders.

Mr. HouseofBeck: “Are you going to clean the hair off your sink?”

Me: “What? Yeah—” *instantly forgets*

At some point I traded in the Housecleaning Gene for an upgrade to the Laziness Gene, giving me a double shot of a lackadaisical attitude toward scrubbing, dusting, vacuuming, and other unfortunately necessary things. In fact, I just put down my dustpan and brush to write this lest I lose this train of thought (Aquanotes come in handy for everything.)

I like the end result very much. It’s the getting there that’s the problem.

So why clean for an animal who isn’t likely to do a 25-point inspection?

Getting a guinea pig opens a new chapter in our lives. Our last guinea pig, Reggie, died almost a full year ago, and our cats have been gone even longer, so our house has felt rather empty. We’ve had more time to do things, but we’ve also had more time not to do things. This hasn’t exactly helped us get ahead as much as we wanted.

As we’ve slowly gotten ready to have a guinea pig again, we’ve been as slowly getting other things done that would make that possible. Then something made me look at the Small & Furry section at, weeks too early for us.

There he was, the guinea pig that was to become our Teddy, five weeks old and incredibly cute. And we weren’t ready. Mansion-like cage, a water bottle, timothy hay, bedding; of the vast checklist of guinea pig paraphernalia, none of this currently existed in our house.

We got ready. We made do. We met Teddy, handed over our vital information for the background check, and spent the rest of the day rushing around getting supplies. The next morning, I got up and cleaned the bathroom, and then we brought him home.

Teddy was already a catalyst. It didn’t stop with the bathroom. The vacuum cleaner is a friend, not a cumbersome stranger. Dust magnets in the house get ruthlessly disturbed. My closet no longer looks like a yarn factory exploded.

The real point is, you can’t be lazy when someone depends entirely on you for their survival. We’re really good at getting by with minimum effort for ourselves. We know all the shortcuts and self-justifications. TV time is sacred where dusting isn’t. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Now, instead of hitting the snooze button two or three times, I get up with the alarm, because we only have a short window of time in the morning to feed Teddy and ourselves and get out the door. After work, Teddy gets fed again before anything else happens. It just seems natural to keep doing other things I know I should be doing when they should be done, instead of the old “I’ll come back to it later” routine that never comes full circle.

Somehow, this little five-week-old ball of fur has energized me. I like that.

And the bathroom’s been clean ever since.

What lights your fire to get things done?


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