An Act of Giving Generates Love and Likes

By: Sheryl Wilde

Who’s the “World’s Cutest Guinea Pig”?  If you follow the latest celebrity animals on the internet (and who doesn’t?) you may already know these four-legged legends:

  • Boo the Pomeranian – touting two books, a calendar and a stuffed animal line, Boo has amassed more than 7 million friends on Facebook.
  • Grumpy Cat has racked up over 11 million YouTube hits, a Forbes interview, and a spot on The Today Show since her photo was posted on Reddit. Grumpy Cat also has a book and her own website.
  • Tillman the Skateboarding Dog is a droopy-faced bulldog with the soul of Tony Hawk.  Tillman holds the Guinness World Record for “fastest 100 meter on a skateboard by a dog” and starred in both an Apple ad and a commercial for Armstrong Flooring. His video has now been watched nearly 21 million times.

Well, the dogs – and cats – have had their day we say!  And who’s the newest celebrity animal on the block?  It’s a cream-colored cavy named Booboo – a guinea pig who already has over 17,000 followers on Instagram.

Now, some have called Booboo the “World’s Cutest Guinea Pig” but we beg to differ.  You see, Olive House has just adopted the most adorable guinea pig on the planet.

Sure the American Blonde, Booboo, is cute in her hipster glasses and has flowers in her hair, but Fozzy, our gentle, golden-furred rodent is much more than just fluff.

“Olive is the largest house on campus,” says Jennifer Velazquez, RC, Olive House.  “We have 13 residents and they are considered more medically fragile than all of our other Mountain Shadows residents.  Many are non-verbal and about half can’t eat on their own and require G-Tube feeding.”

Finding new and effective ways to serve the Olive House population, to connect with them, to enrich their lives, is ever on our minds at Mountain Shadows.  And when Fozzy, the white-nosed guinea pig was first introduced to our resident, Vickie, we knew we were on to something – something really good!

“Vickie is non-verbal and doesn’t interact with others much,” says Trisha Brodd, QIDP.  “When she saw Fozzy, she got so excited, she squealed and started laughing.  That was huge!  Now Vickie and Fozzy are best friends.  Vickie and all of our non-verbal residents love touching him and holding him.

“Johanna loves to sit on the recliner with Fozzy in her lap.  The residents and staff really care about him and have bonded with him.”

“My best friend for 20 years, Trina Manes, and her family, generously donated Fozzy to us,” says Stacy Sullivan, Director of Operations.    “He’s become our Mountain Shadows mascot.  It’s been really fun to watch the residents holding him, wanting to take care of him.”“Fozzy was born to a family in Descanso and given as a gift to my parents,” says Trina.  “When my parents had to move, Fozzy became part of our family.  As the kids have become older, and more involved in sports and school activities, we had less time for him.  He is very social- he would talk to me every morning and gives great Eskimo kisses. I felt he needed more interaction and attention than we could provide. I struggled with giving him to just anybody though as he is a special animal.

“While sharing my pet woes with Stacy, she had the great idea of bringing Fozzy to Mountain Shadows.  She shared the new campaign “Because I care” and thought Fozzy could be incorporated into this idea. Fozzy would not only provide companionship for the residents but also encourage their participation by allowing them to care for another living being.

“It was a little bit of a hard sell to my children initially. But after visiting the homes and meeting some of the residents, we all knew Mountain Shadows would be a perfect fit for Fozzy.

“We couldn’t be happier with his new family at Mountain Shadows.”

“Fozzy was a little shy at first,” says Jennifer. “But he got used to all of us quickly.  Now he loves being held and he’s very spoiled.  He has his own fenced area outside where he plays in the grass.  We all give him lots of treats.  He absolutely loves bell peppers and grapes.  He doesn’t want to eat his guinea pig food anymore.  I think he’s gained a little weight.”

So, sure, Booboo is cute with her heart-shaped glasses and flowers in her hair, but Fozzy is all that – and so much more.  He wiggles his nose and makes Vickie laugh.  He purrs when Steve pets him.  He runs barefoot through the grass for Andrea as she watches from her wheelchair and squeals with delight.  And he chills in the La-Z-Boy with Johanna at the end of a busy day.

Fozzy makes everybody smile.

So move over Boo, and Grumpy Cat, and Tillman, and even Booboo too – because Fozzy’s the World’s Cutest Guinea Pig in our eyes, and the most loved too.

Help us raise awareness about Mountain Shadows and make our Fozzy the newest internet sensation – click on the icons at the beginning of the story to like, share, and tweet his story and pictures with everyone you know!

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Mountain Shadows Support Group 

970 Los Vallecitos Blvd., Suite 240 | San Marcos, CA  92069