On Monday morning, Nov. 14, biology teacher Kellie Whited entered her classroom to find her guinea pig, Dendrite, had left this world at the age of 2.
Dendrite left behind her sister, Axon, who is now often heard squeaking sadly, and five other rats.
“(Axon has) been crying out for her sister and running around the cage looking for her,” said Whited.
Named after parts of a neuron by Whited, Dendrite and Axon were adopted two years ago when Whited and her teaching assistant, Claire Pinson ‘15, were buying supplies for a lab next to a Petco.
Whited said Pinson insisted on going into the store just to look at the guinea pigs, and then begged Whited to get one for the class.
“I said we’re not getting one,” Whited said. “And then (I said), we’re not getting two!”
Whited said she fed the guinea pigs timothy hay and pellets, as well as various types of vegetables, such as lettuce, bell peppers and celery.
Dendrite was most famous for being quite large and very shy.
“(Dendrite and Axon) were the same size when we got them, but in two weeks she was dramatically bigger than Axon,” Whited said. “We wondered if something was wrong with her – if she had a tumor (or if) she was pregnant.
“She was over a pound, which is really big for a guinea pig.”
Although Whited isn’t sure whether Dendrite really did have a disease, she’s certain she wasn’t pregnant as there were no males near her.
Dendrite spent most of her time in a plastic semi-sphere house and was so shy she would move her plastic house from the inside whenever she wanted food rather than leaving it, according to Whited.
When senior Alexa Mathisen moved Dendrite out to clean the cage, she said she had to put her in a bucket and “put the house on top of the bucket so (she) wouldn’t freak out.”
However, once someone held her, Dendrite was very sweet, according to Whited.
“Once you got her out of the cage and held her, she would talk to you and nuzzle into your arms,” Whited said.
In fact, Whited said that students would take the guinea pigs home with them during breaks, and that the guinea pigs often visited the kindergarten classrooms. But they never went to Whited’s house as her husband, middle- school science teacher Doug Whited, is allergic to rodents.
Whited said her kids “think of our classroom pets as their home pets,” and that it was difficult to break the news of Dendrite’s death to them.
Senior Kevin Huang, who Whited said really loved Dendrite, said his favorite thing about Dendrite was her laziness.
“Dendrite was really timid. of course; she stayed in that little house most of the time,” Huang said.
“Every time when I wanted to take Dendrite out from the cage, I would take the house out first. You would expect Dendrite (to freak) out and (to try and) run away from me, but she was too lazy to move!
“She was actually the easiest guinea pig to take out from the cage because she never struggled – or she was always too lazy to struggle.”
—By Emma Boersma