Guinea Pigs Traumatized Me For Life!

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This post is in response to this week’s prompt at The Red Dress Club. We were asked to write about our memories from either Kindergarten or First Grade.

* * * * * *

My memories of my childhood are a bit scattered, a bit faded, and some have been completely erased by time. I have tried to recall my early life, years spent living on my grandparents farm in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. I have tried to drudge up memories of the military life we led in Northern Kentucky that my dad recalls so fondly. I catch glimpses of things I did, people I saw – tiny bits of memory that fade as soon as I concentrate on them too hard.

I do not recall Kindergarten at all. I recall three things during my first grade year of elementary school. One of them is a vibrant memory that has actually haunted me through most of my adult life, so I chose to share that today.

When I was 6 or 7 and living near Louisville, Kentucky, I had a Guinea pig named Ignat. Being the non-creative child that I was, when we bought him a wife, I named her Mrs. Ignat (I wish I was kidding). He was the first pet I recall having, aside from the pet cow I had on the farm (oh boy, that’s another story entirely).

Ignat was adorable, squishy, cuddly, stinky and squeaky. In other words, he was perfect. We kept his cage in the bathroom and during the winter, subsequently, Mrs. Ignat caught cold and died. I don’t recall caring too much that she died. I honestly don’t even remember her at all, I just have the knowledge that she existed.

We lived on the military base, which was a trailer park. We had a single wide, two bedroom trailer and from what I recall, it wasn’t very fancy…just a basic trailer in a trailer park. The bathroom was very cold and very drafty. I vaguely recall being able to look at where the floor met the wall and there being a teeny tiny crack that was open to the outside. That may just be my memory playing tricks on me…

Ignat became sick and eventually died. I was devastated. I recall very few things about my childhood in Kentucky, and almost nothing at all about my time in North Carolina. But this? My beloved pet dying on me? I remember being devastated. I was crushed. I couldn’t wrap my little brain around the reality of death, especially when it happened so fast. One day he was there, squeaking away, and the next? Gone. To my little 7 year old mind, little Ignat dying was the end of the world.

I couldn’t say the damn pig’s name without breaking into tears until I was about 25. I am serious. It was my first pet. It was the first thing that I lost. My dad used to like to torment me as I was older and make me cry by bringing it up. I would have to run out of the room as tears filled my eyes.

Of all of the things I could remember from my early childhood, that is what sticks in my brain. The emotional trauma of losing that damn guinea pig! I don’t even know where the hell I got that strange name. Who names a pet Ignat?!

* * * UPDATE * * *

OMG! I found a picture of my with my little Ignat!  What is more shocking than the fact that I actually have a picture that survived Hurricane Andrew is that….I have the same haircut right now! I guess I’m more vintage than I thought!



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  1. says

    You had some creativity breaking out, even when you were little, with that name. I kind of love it.

    How mean of your dad to bring him up when he knew that it upset you.

    • therebelchick says

      I was insanely sensitive as a child (who am I kidding? I still am! LOL) and my dad is your typical, ‘beat-it-out-of-them’ roughneck…he thought he could desensitize me if he picked on me enough. His heart was in the right place, but he ended up just being a bully.

  2. says

    Poor Mr. and Mrs. Ignat. May they rest in peace.
    And poor you, having that happen at such a young age!
    It’s weird, the things that stick with us, isn’t it?
    And I’m with Tracie! I love the name Ignat! LOL

  3. says

    We all remember our first pet. And who cares why you named him Ignat. At that age, it makes perfect sense. It even makes for a cuter story. Before I reached school age, we lived in a trailer park too, and I can remember my dad doing similar things to tease me, so I understand.

  4. says

    How strange that my RemembeRED post had to do with a guinea pig too. Bizarre! 😉
    I am one of those weirdos that remembers things from a very young age. And my pig was definitely one of them. :)

  5. says

    Isn’t that the name of one of Sid the Science Kid’s stuffed animals? Don’t ask my why I know that. 😉
    And of course this stuck with you. Death and childhood innocence are contradictory.

    • therebelchick says

      That doesn’t ring a bell, but maybe I did watch that & just don’t remember! I’m going to have to look it up!

    • therebelchick says

      Aw, I was hoping the show was something on when I was a child…just Googled it and it began in 2008. Still no clue where I got that name!

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