What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever ordered on eBay?
This was mine.
Now just because cats, dogs and horses wear coats, doesn’t mean that guinea pigs can, do or will. The intent is noble, but the idea is flawed. The structure of a guinea pig does NOT lend itself to any sort of dress.
Concerned about my very skinny pig Bluebell, whose inadequate fat lining was no protection against frosty mornings, I wondered out loud about guinea pig winter wear to the family at large. ‘But you can’t get coats for guinea pigs,’ I said, having noted the plethora of apparel – all for larger beasts – in the local pet shop.
‘Google it’ said my Dad, whose grasp of online possibilities clearly exceeded mine. So I did.
Unpopular Winter Wear
Bluebell’s fisherman’s knit duly arrived by post, selected from a surprisingly broad range of fashion items. It was blue, of course.
The design faults became quickly obvious. In fact this was an item where design entirely overthrew function.
Bluebell, inserted into the tubular jumper, became completely stiff. The jumper short-circuited something between brain and limbs. When he ventured to move a foot, he fell over.
Design Versus Function
The guinea pig jumper demonstrates an important design principle: design should enhance function, rather than obstruct it.
The jumper looked extremely cute online. It had a warm polo neck. It had sleeves. It had loops to fix around the hind legs. It looked cosy. It was blue.
But it overlooked guinea pig anatomy in favour of an idea. In fact it’s possible that the designer(s) had never seen a guinea pig.
The Usefulness of Necks
Guinea pigs have no necks. They do not need a polo neck. A polo neck covers their ears and eyes unless severely rolled back. (Their neckless build also means that guinea pig leads do not work.)
Guinea pigs have front feet a la T. Rex. Little wiggly bits. This is why guinea pigs hug with their heads. Their front legs disappear inside the shortest of sleeves and they trip.
Guinea pig back legs – well, ditto. Long loops have nothing to loop onto.
Trying to dress a neckless, almost limbless, spherical animal in a jumper with sleeves, loops and a polo neck is an exercise in futility.
The Guinea Pig Strait Jacket
However, a guinea pig strait jacket has its uses. It’s a handy beach outfit. It means you can take your guinea pig to the beach and park him and he won’t run away.
Having stuffed the magnificent Bramble Blackbelt recently into said beach outfit (he fills it to capacity) we built a whole sandcastle under and around him. He decorated the construction like an inelegant carving on the prow of a sailing ship. Stiff as a post and very fat.
Of course the moral of the story is to keep the strait jacket on the pig. When we took it off, Bramble got his revenge by scarpering into an earthworks. It took us an hour to get him out.