Meet Laura, George, Hugo, Woody & Rupert!

HELLO,

My name is Laura De Stefano (nee Humphreys) and I’m a 30-something married woman with no children but a love for guinea pigs!

I decided to start up Tiny Paws in 2018 with the aim of offering an exclusive, specialised, guinea pig ONLY environment providing grooming, holiday boarding and a multitude of additional services I intend to incorporate just as soon as I can.

I have created a mini-CV below offering up some of my credentials.

PUBLICATIONS

For over 10 years I have been a leading voice in the campaign to improve guinea pig care, medical care and welfare. I have published one book of my own relating to my experience with guinea pigs, Charlie’s Memoirs, with another book on general guinea pig care in the works. I was also instrumental in designing, rewriting, contributing to and delivering the British Association of Rodentologists comprehensive 300-page professional textbook, which deals specifically with the medical care of guinea pigs. I also wrote extensively for Guinea Pig Magazine, which I co-launched and contributed heavily to for more than 6 years. 

                                                     

 

ONLINE PRESENCE & ADVISING

I have run around a dozen websites and forums – most were for guinea pig health and care – in my late teens and early twenties. I was very active on some major online forums back in those days and held in high regard for my commonsense and logical approach. Those forums included (but weren’t limited to): Guinea Pig Cages, when it was still known as Cavy Cages;  Cutiecavies; Guinea Lynx; TKCC; Guinea Pig World; and The Guinea Pig Forum. The most notable sites I ran and owned myself were The Piggy Boards, a forum of my own, and the educational website and advice line Guinea Pig Helpline which ran for several years in the early 2010s.

 

NON-GUINEA-PIG STUFF

Away from the world of guinea pigs, I have a fairly wide spectrum of interest, so here are ten random points of interest (or not?!):

  1. I’ve lived in Huntingdon for 13 years and it is “home”, but I actually grew up as a military kid.
  2. I love to read.
  3. I take far too many photographs.
  4. I’m a writer with a severe case of writer’s block (going on around 7 years now).
  5. I have very diverse music tastes. Firm favourites however include Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran,
  6. I’m a keen boulderer (rock climbing without ropes) and that’s how I broke my ankle…falling off a climbing wall.
  7. I was teetotal until I met my husband.
  8. I am the QUEEN of procrastination and irritating my family and friends!
  9. I live with connective tissue disorders, fibromyalgia and mental illnesses that have at times been life-limiting.
  10. My husband is one of the top Ninja Warrior athletes in the country.

 


The Resident Pets

Throughout my 30 years I have grown up with and kept 33 guinea pigs, 5 dogs and 1 hamster. We currently have very few pets of our own, but, exactly in life as in business, we are a guinea pig only household – we don’t keep any other pets.

At present, we have 4 guinea pigs – George, Hugo, Woody and Rupert – all of whom have a short bio below. The names of all of my previous piggies, loved and lost, are listed at the bottom of the page.

George Jasper
Slate, tan and white boar
Estimated DoB: 11 September 2018

Hugo Cedric James
Lilac and gold boar
Known DoB: 1 August 2019

Hugo magically appeared in the cage of his mum and aunt overnight, along with his sister, Luna. Surprise babies, his mum Ginny had obviously been given to the pet store after she’d been impregnated, as her cagemate Hermione was definitely another female (and luckily not also pregnant as well!). This happened just one day before Ginny and Hermione were due to come to me for holiday boarding – which they still did, but not before I had swiftly babyproofed the cage! In the time they boarded with me I was able to establish the sex of the two babies and as it happened, the one I had utterly fallen for was a boy. The owner asked if I could help with rehoming and jokingly asked if I wanted him…well, the joke ended there as I said I would have him. Ginny and Hermione were booked in for another holiday and this happened to fall right on the week the babies would be 3 weeks old – the age that any boys must be separated from all females, including mum. So Hugo switched seamlessly from being a boarder to a resident, and became part of our family.

Elwood Mungo (Woody)
Cream self
Estimated DoB: 19 August 2021

Rupert William
Silver agouti teddy
Known DoB: 14 January 2022


A SPECIAL ONE

A friend recently said something that struck such a strong chord, it has stuck with me. As I sat with her as one of her piggies passed away in her arms, I told the piggy that Wilbur would be there to welcome her at Rainbow Bridge along with all her friends and all the other Tiny Paws piggies she has “met” during her stays here. This little sow’s mum said Wilbur was like the gatekeeper of Tiny Paws. We lost Wilbur in January 2022, a loss that remains particularly painful, so I like to imagine him being there to meet the many piggies we have had the honour of knowing when they cross the Bridge. His spirit lives on here as, without Wilbur, there would have been no Tiny Paws, as summarised in this poem gifted to us by my mum, Tracey Humphreys. It is for these reasons we decided to change our website, socials etc. from Hugo’s iconic “tiny paw” photo to one instead of Wilbur.

Wilbur Bartholomew
29 May 2016 – 15 January 2022

Wilbur came to us as a friend for Archie in summer 2016. Archie had just lost his cagemate Gabriel, and we really felt that he was a good candidate for re-pairing with a young boar. Enter Wilbur! He was around 4 months old when we acquired him. He was in quarantine for around 2 months whilst I could monitor him, whilst Archie was treated for skin problems, and while we waited for the legal processes on our house purchase to complete. When we introduced the pair, all went well and the two lived very happily together until Archie’s death on 10 April 2018. We attempted to introduce another boar, Oliver, shortly after but Oliver bullied Wilbur badly, so we ended up having to rehome Ollie. Wilbur eventually ended up with George, although that relationship too lasted less than a year, again with Wilbur being the victim of unnecessary harassment. (Even though he did more than his share of harassing George for many months prior…he’s a victim but he is not innocent!)

Wilbur has a very unique sparkle that is rarely dimmed or put off by anything, and everyone who crosses his path adores him. He has, as he’s grown older, turned into a very loving pig, he does know loyalty, he knows his humans, and he loves spending times with us. His favourite thing to do is to eat pellets – so much so we had to give them to him via treat ball, which he rapidly made his own – and to lick people. He’s incredibly photogenic, which is a real challenge considering he is 90% black haired, but we get by!

 

Loving Memory:

Charlie, Tuppence, Lottie, Jasmine, Dexter, Gwenivere, Saffron, Breanna, Franklyn, Meghan, Willamina, Harrison, Pandora, Kingslie, Rosemary, Delilah, Sophia, Elijah, Errol, Gabriel, Archie, Amelie, Felicity, Miranda, Sampson, Wilbur