Carmy and Claire
Carmy is named after the Carmelite religious sisters, who wear white and brown.
Claire is named after St. Clare and her Poor Clare sisters, who wear brown.
Q: Are Carmy and Claire boys or girls?
Carmy and Claire are girls. I got them in January 2009, when they were a few months old. I got Carmy first, and then got Claire a week later when I saw how depressed Carmy was looking without a friend to play with. From the moment I put them together, they were best friends!
Q: How big are they?
Now they are pretty much full grown: about a foot long and 1000 grams each. When I got them, Carmy weighed about 500 grams and Claire about 250 grams. The picture at the top of this page was taken then.
Claire was so small that she was able to slip easily through the 1.5-inch squares in the cage wall! (I took the picture on the left after being astonished that she could still fit herself through such a small space!)
Q: Why did you choose guinea pigs as pets?
When I was in second grade, our teacher Mrs. Pritchard had a few guinea pigs as class pets. I loved them and begged my parents for one. I ended up having several guinea pigs all through my childhood and have always had a fond place in my heart for them. When I moved to my second parish assignment, I found that our youth minister and her husband had a little baby guinea pig, and seeing him whenever I visited made me want to get one again!
Q: Are priests allowed to have pets?
Yep! Many priests have more typical pets like dogs or cats. Our bishop, Bishop Guglielmone, had a wonderful dog named Mickey (for Mickey Mantle) which he would always bring with him to different youth events! Guinea pigs are a good fit for me because they are easy to take care of and can go anywhere.
Q: When did you build the Lego vehicles for them?
As a child I loved building stuff with Legos, and I still have some of my favorite sets as souvenirs of my childhood. I will sometimes bring them into our Catholic school when I go to teach the children religion class, as something fun to get their attention. Different families ended up giving me different sets as Christmas and Easter presents (works for me!), and I ended up seeing that I could combine the sets to make a little car for the pigs. The children always love to see Carmy and Claire, and so I built the car in my down time as something to do for fun. The “Guineamobile” was revealed on the last day of school that year after getting the guinea pigs. It always makes the students laugh and smile to see Carmy drive it around and shoot missiles at a bad guy! And then the students kept telling me I needed to build something for Claire to drive, so I built the motorcycle!
Q: Are Carmy and Claire still alive?
Carmy and Claire both lived to eight years old, which is pretty old for guinea pigs. They passed away in the fall of 2016 within a few weeks of each other. They lived a very long and happy life, and got to become famous guinea pig superstars!
In the year before they passed away, I finished filming the footage of their third video. I wanted to do one last video starring them both, completing the “Guineamobile” trilogy! The final touches are almost done and I am hoping to release it soon. I think it turned out amazing!