Most Saturday mornings, if I am not woken up by my cactus’ automatic grow lamp, I wake up and slither over to my couch, open up my laptop and watch the Breecast. The Breecast is an hour long live stream featuring Sophie the Magpie and her male (Andy) and it’s the best balm in these trying times. Just a bird and her human answering questions, talking about biscuits and enjoying nature. It’s the best thing my anxious mind needs. But Sophie and her male are not the only British people with cute animals I follow. There’s also the herd of Masons’ Cavies. Masons’ Cavies is helmed by Sophie and Mark Mason and their herd of guinea pigs. At the start, there was around 50 but now the numbers are closer to 70 (but I have not recounted since a recent string of deaths in the herd). I found their page after a viral video featuring Mr. Mason as a waiter dropping off plates of food for the guinea pigs. I was instantly in love because long-time readers will know that when Carlos owned two guinea pigs I loved them more than he did. The group had a ton of guinea pigs that squeaked and had names and the Facebook page around them mostly featured cute videos of guinea pigs eating veggies and overall things just being okay which was exactly what I needed in the landscape of 2019. It was calm, cool and cute.
Or at least, so I thought.
One would assume that a Facebook page about guinea pigs would not be a complicated issue but oh the dram around Masons’ Cavies. Sophie Mason will tell you over and over again that her and her husband are not a rescue, yet she and her husband rescue a lot of guinea pigs. With their viral videos, her and her husband will claim to not need financial support from followers while also in every post ask for paid supporters on Facebook and dropping her Amazon wishlist and PayPal. Her and her husband insist that they are over the drama while also passive aggressively mentioning all their haters on live streams and posting entire musical montages about how people “need to calm down”. There’s an odd paradox to the Masons but if it’s just about the guinea pigs then I can swallow the drama.
I want to really go into the money part because it brings up an issue I have with a lot of things which is having others pay for a hobby. Now, I have a podcast and that podcast has sponsors and I’m happy to have sponsors but that offsets costs and we have never asked for that money. And if we lose those sponsors, the podcast will continue because I’m okay with budgeting for cheese and wine and image assets. And I understand that taking care of 50 or so guinea pigs must be expensive and I understand that there is no issue with accepting money from those that offer but literally no one held the Masons hostage demanding they take these cavies. And if someone did, I would love to meet this person who is throwing guinea pigs at people and demanding they have a soft pet as penance. I do think its admirable that they do continue to rescue guinea pigs but good lord do they ask for money.
Additionally, the Masons seem to be in the middle of a great deal of drama because of their unwillingness to just say they’re a rescue or to just continue to be some backyard enthusiasts with a great deal of time and energy put into their herd mostly because with their viral status, they do take up a great deal of attention away from actual rescues that aim to give guinea pigs homes or take them from terrible scenarios.
There have also been concerns about the conditions the guinea pigs are held in. Now, I’m not a vet but the guinea pigs live in a shed that is nicer than my first apartment and if we ignore this recent string of deaths…I don’t ever question their care.
The Masons are great people and I have no questions about that. The guinea pigs are well taken care of, that I have no question of. I love each guinea pig more than the last but ones that hold my heart are Squeak, Willow, Luna and Albus. I love watching these adorable creatures squeak and popcorn and eat more kale than I have ever seen in my life. It’s relaxing and innocent and it shows me that in theory, everything is going to be okay. It’s a shame that there’s so much drama behind the scenes of something that should be relatively unproblematic. After all, they’re just guinea pigs living in the English countryside. Why is there so much drama? And realistically, it doesn’t have to be like this. Sophie the Magpie has no such issues with her fan base. Anyone that asks about her enclosure are insured that she is happy and healthy. Anyone that asks about why she’s in an enclosure are told that she is an imprinted bird and is happy and that her male would not do live streams with her if he thought that she was unhappy or stressed in any way. Sophie the Magpie’s male goes out of his way to refuse money and overall, it’s just a chill time.
So where does that leave me? I’m just a lover of cute animals and viral videos. What am I supposed to do with all of this drama? Well, I still watch a lot of the Mason’s Cavies videos even though Sophie Mason cannot pronounce Pecan correctly and I’m sad that they seem to be dealing with an odd series of deaths in the herd. But I can’t help but admit that a lot of the drama makes it very hard to stomach. All of the asking for money and the passive aggressive comments towards haters…it just seems like so much.
When did guinea pigs get so complicated? Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t I just think the best guinea pig is Squeak? And as a marketer and brand personality; I’m very aware of how difficult it can be to be in the public eye and to suddenly feel like everything you do is being viewed and judged. I know how difficult it can be to suddenly be famous (I’m not famous but I manage brands, calm down, I know I’m not famous). I do feel something that I assume resembles bad for the Masons. Sophie Mason recently suffered a horrible injury that she is recovering from and then there’s recent string of guinea pig deaths has been deeply emotional. And to be fair, people have been harsh. Folks, they’re guinea pigs who live in a shed bigger than my first apartment: they’re fine.
The internet is a strange series of tubes and cats that can manage to take something like a herd of guinea pigs in the English countryside and make it an entire Machiavellian drama.
That was a lot but you all come to this blog for all of the hot goss when it comes to cute animals on the Internet. I don’t want this to be a super negative piece and I certainly don’t wish ill to the Masons. I do think they’re doing their best and their guinea pigs are truly a safe place in a hellish world. But I can’t help but continue to think that this all seems to be a bit much for the sake of a few furry creatures running around in a backyard.