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Go, pig. Go!

Samantha Hansen (right) dresses Marissa Erdman’s guinea pig, Cooper, for a costume contest at the guinea pig fun show. Hansen and Erdman are neighbors in Cottage Grove. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente) 1 / 5
Braden McLoughlin tries to coax his guinea pig, Bunny Boo, to the finish line during a race at the River Valley Cavy Fanciers’ guinea pig fun show Saturday at Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente) 2 / 5
Shannon Masker helps her son, Alexander, put their guinea pig, Prince Chocolate, in a costume for a contest at a guinea pig fun show in Cottage Grove. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente) 3 / 5
:Ashley Winger, of Stillwater, instructs her guinea pig, Finesse, to rest on its back during a trick contest at the guinea pig fun show. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente) 4 / 5
Cole West, 8, of Cottage Grove, feeds parsley to his guinea pig, Zippy, during an eating contest at the guinea pig fun show. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente) 5 / 5

Marissa Erdman has a guinea pig with attitude.

The Cottage Grove girl said her pig, Cooper, is a great pet but has a strong personality.

“She’s very demanding,” Erdman joked. “She wants her food when she wants her food.”

Cooper and more than a dozen other cavies, as guinea pigs also are called, were the stars on Saturday when the River Valley Cavy Fanciers held their guinea pig fun show at Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church Cottage Grove.

Club member Warren Samuelson said in the past the group held its fun show each fall at the Hastings library, but decided to move it to Cottage Grove this year. The show drew participants from Cottage Grove and around the area, including Hastings and Stillwater.

“This is a good turnout,” Samuelson said as he took a break from photographing the animals on an agility course.

The pigs -- with names like Finesse, Zippy, Prince Chocolate and Bunny Boo -- competed in a variety of activities and received awards for size, most colorful, most vocal, fastest, best trick and costume.

At one point, the owners lined up their guinea pigs on a table for an eating contest. Samuelson handed out bags of parsley.

“Go, go, go!” Cole West said as he fed the plant to guinea pig, Zippy. The animal placed second.

Cole, 8, got Zippy for his birthday. It’s the family’s first pet.

“It’s not a cheap pet, I found out,” Cole’s father, Jason West said, laughing. But he added that it’s OK because Zippy went over big with Cole.

Alyssa Masker has other pets but she said Prince Chocolate, her mostly black-colored guinea pig, is her favorite because she likes to pet and play with it.

“We tried to get a leash, but it didn’t work,” admitted Alyssa, a grade-schooler. “He got out.”

Erdman, who got help with Cooper from her neighbor Samantha Hansen, said guinea pigs make good pets.

“They’re social and they’re fun to be around,” she said.

Patti Anderson concurred. Anderson is a therapy animal trainer at the Animal Humane Society who was at the fun show with information about therapy animals. She said guinea pigs make good therapy animals because they are domesticated and have had “nastiness” bred out of them over time.

Children and adults alike use therapy pigs and other animals, such as dogs, miniature horses and rabbits.

“They’re friendly, they’re personable,” Anderson said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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