Friday, August 20, 2010

New Pets - Take Two

I know that you are asking yourself this question: Why on Earth would the Stankevicius family get new pets when Lily couldn't keep her hands out of the fish bowl last month? Well, it's not that simple to explain...
For those of you who know Lily, you may know that although she has an official diagnosis, I have never been comfortable with it. I have been saying for many, many years now that there is something else going on her in sweet, little body that is causing her to act in a way that typical children don't. Despite lots of doctor visits, neuropsychological testing and many evaluations by so-called professionals, I have been repeatedly told that she is just too young to diagnose. So, she has some symptoms that might sound a bit like OCD, some that are more similar to ADHD and others that may resemble Autism, a mood disorder or other related neurological disorders. We do know that she has Sensory Processing Disorder and some other behavior disorder. It's pinpointing that "other" that has been difficult because of her age.

Thus, her latest symptom has been perseveration. If you are familiar with Autism you may have heard of this. It's when a child gets fixated on a topic and all conversations revolve around it. From the moment Lily began to speak, she has always said how much she loves animals and how she wants to be a vet when she grows up. We have 2 cats who she desperately wants a relationship with, however, fickle cats don't want much to do with 6 year old girls! However, Lily's perseveration on animals goes beyond just wanting to pet them. She has been begging and begging for a pet that she can hold. We've even had a few episodes where she has looked up at us with tear-filled eyes, explaining how lonely she feels, and that a pet would give her some comfort.

So, after much discussion with her occupational therapist and her pyschologist, we decided to create a reward program for Lily (and Matt) that allowed them to be rewarded for positive behavior in order to prove how responsible they can be for a pet. For every responsible behavior we observed (without being told) they received a sticker on a chart. Things like: brushing teeth without being told, cleaning up after meals, doing chores without being asked were acknowledged with a sticker. When the chart was filled up, the children were rewarded with goldfish.

Of course, we have since learned that goldfish were not the right pets for Lily. She wanted something she could hold and pet (probably related to the sensory disorder). We learned this the hard way. So, after much discussion and contemplation, Jack and I agreed to let the kids work towards earning a pet that they could hold. Due to my severe allergies (yes, we have cats and yes, I am allergic to them), dogs were ruled out. However, guinea pigs were put on the table.

After another month of responsibility stickers, Matt and Lily earned their next rewards. We took them to the pet store yesterday following the first day of school and we came home with these girls.... Meet Butterscotch. I think this is the first time Lily chose a name that really fit. Butterscotch is a baby girl guinea pig. She is going to get much, much, much larger. ...Sigh....
and this is her sister from the same litter, Astro. Astro was Matt's choice. LOL

Here is their home. The igloo is where they spend most of their time. The tunnel is for chewing on.

You can see they are pretty tiny. Their claws are not sharp and their teeth are pretty dull now, but guinea pig teeth never stop we have to give them hay to chew on, to keep the teeth filed down.

They are herbivores and drink water from a bottle.

The cage is pretty large as you can see compared to Lily's dresser. We had to get the large cage since we have two and they will grow pretty big. The pet store wanted us to take the mother of these two...she was 2 years old and too old to be sold. They were going to throw her in for free, but I really didn't want 3 guinea pigs. So, they said they'd throw her in for free with the next customer's order. LOL

So, no "what were you thinking".... We are going to give it a shot and hope for the best and hopefully these two creatures will fit in with the rest of the brood here.


  1. They are adorable! Just make sure to emphasize that the cage always gets latched properly, otherwise kitties will have new toys... I love "gee pigs," as my son used to call his (Prudence). Turned out Pru was preggers; she had two babies, a boy and a girl, who promptly did what nature intended (we didn't realize they weren't same sex, how in the world could we tell with all that fur?) and had a litter of rather odd-looking offspring. An education in why inbreeding is NOT a good idea! LOL

  2. Oh she looks SO content! I'm am thrilled to see Lily's smile so big. Best wishes with these new family members!!

  3. Shel, judging from that smile on her face, I think you guys def. made the right decision...she is shining! They are cute and Butterscotch is the perfect name for hers! Good luck with the new family members!!



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