Trick Guinea Pig – Dreaming Big

Willow’s Dream: Trick Guinea Pig

Straight From Willow’s Tunnel


“How did it end up like this…” It started with a piece of bedding, then hay, then an eraser, and then this (carrots and other foods). Willow’s great at balancing things on his nose!

Did you know that all those animals you see in TV shows and movies are trained? Mom says some are CGI. I’m not sure what that is, but she said it means they aren’t real. They sure seem real to me, but apparently they aren’t. The other animals though? They are real and very talented! Plus, I learned from my mom when she interned at a zoo that zoo animals are also trained by positive reinforcement. It’s what mom does with my training! (But animals at the zoo still aren’t cuddly. It’s important to remember they still have a bit of ‘wildness’ and ‘unpredictability’ in them. But, some animals are really well trained and mom said she got to see them at Universal Studios – a place she didn’t take me… I still am a little mad at her about that one.)

So, it got me thinking and I asked mom if I could learn more tricks to compete with the TV stars. I mean, wouldn’t it be so cool to be like a TV star and know the tricks they know? Mom said that it would be like taking karate and then saying she was Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. I asked her what she was talking about, but she just sighed and told me not to worry about it. Whoever Bruce Lee is or Jackie Chan, I suppose they must be pretty awesome (though I don’t know if mom would be that great as them).

My mom looked up dog tricks and was trying to find a way to modify them when she came across a website called “Do More With Your Dog” that actually has a thing called a “Title Holders List”. It puts down the breed of dog, name of the trainer, name of the dog, what title was earned, and when. BUT! Looking through the list, mom realized that guinea pigs were on there along with a bunch of other animals that weren’t actually dogs.

She turned to me and asked if I wanted to join the list. How could I say no?

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2017 New Year Resolutions – Guinea Pig Style



Beginning of the new year: Going strong!


After the first week or so of the new year: Yeah, nope.

When you’re trying to accomplish your New Year’s Resolutions of working out, but you also just love food.

AKA, he’s cheating. Cheating during his workout. We see those paws, Willow!

It hasn’t even been a whole month into 2017 yet. 😑

Willow’s New Year’s Resolutions

Straight From Willow’s Tunnel

In my humble opinion, new year resolutions are great! At least for a little bit. Many times people start them and don’t keep to them for the rest of the year after the first few weeks or months. Mom never seems to get past March – but she always tells me that she’ll get back on it. Does she? Not always. But, since she made resolutions again, I thought to join her. I can’t let mom do them alone. I kept mine simple.

  1. Exercise.

    During the holidays mom and I stopped training so much. I gotta get back into it. I think that carrot turkey might have given me a few additional ounces. Mom said I’m still fine – just a tad over the usual weight – but she doesn’t get it. I will work hard! After I eat another carrot. Then I will start, I swear it on the great veggie god! (It’s a thing. Look it up. Or maybe you can skip that google search… you know, don’t want to waste your time…)

  2. Eat lots.

    Not that I don’t already do this, but eat more to compensate for all the working out that I will be doing with mom. She’s determined to lose weight and become fit and I’m determined to keep her motivated! I will motivate her in my dreams. What? Watching her is tiring! How can you blame me?

  3. Only beg mom and dad for food when I’m starving.

    It has been brought to my attention that a lot of the world is less fortunate than I. Aladdin risked his life for getting food! I shall wait until I’m thoroughly hungry. So, instead of wheeking every time mom or dad leaves and heads towards the kitchen, I will wait until they open the fridge, open a cabinet, rustle some bags, or I hear the cutting board being put on the counter.

  4. Think before I act.

    After a ‘spa day’ (nail clipping, bath, or a combination of them both), I will try to restrain myself from going over to mom’s foot and pooping on it. Instead of automatically being angry and unhappy about it. I will sit and think about my actions before actually doing it. (The poop is still necessary, but I will lay by her foot for a few minutes thinking about it before knowing it’s the right thing to do. That counts for something, right?)

  5. Sleep less on the job.

    Mom has a lot of planning to do and likes to bounce ideas off of me – whatever that means. She just talks my ear off and I end up just sleeping. I talked to dad, and he said it was important to her, so I promised mom I’d help a little bit.  (Edit: Mom put an untrue picture below! I was just daydreaming! In my defense, she was talking about flowers and flowers are boring. That is, unless I can eat them…)

Someone is sleeping on the job. :p

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Celebrating #OneMoreRhinoBPZ

Image Credit: From the Blank Park Zoo

Near and dear to Ali’s heart is animal care, well-being, and conservation. Having worked at Blank Park Zoo (BPZ) in the past (Willow was supportive from at home), it’s only fitting that the furry potato helped out with some pictures to raise awareness and gather support for black rhinos everywhere. (Plus, Ali misses hanging with Kiano (male) and Ayana (female) there!)


Joining the herd! 🐾 Willow is no rhino, but he got on his podium to support them!

Want to show YOUR support? Write #OneMoreRhinoBPZ on your palm, post it onto social media, and then submit it to #JointheHerd at the Blank Park Zoo submission page!

Want to learn more and help out? Read “What’s with the Point: Rhino Horns and Poaching” on the BPZ page or check out The International Rhino Foundation website for more information about these amazing animals.

Still want to help out?

Did you know that proceeds to many zoos actually go towards conservation to help animals in the wild? But educating yourself and others around you, you can make a real difference – even if you just stop by to say hi to the animals!


If you’re heading to Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, check out one of Ali’s favorite buddies, Barnabee who is an Aldabra tortoise and over 80 years old! He’s definitely one awesome guy. ❤

Relaunch 2017

New Changes Coming 2017

There are so many new changes and events happening with the Once Upon a Wheek team that have kept them extremely busy!

To ensure that there are posts every week for everyone, and for better organization, we will not be posting many new posts until our revamp next year. We should be up and running by February 2017 with weekly posts and information.


What are we hoping to achieve?

  • A new post every week
  • New ideas
  • Better organization
  • Logo (we’re hoping!)
  • Guinea pig comic/drawing once a month


We will be posting some series posts in February that we promised which include bonding tips, training, and the initial litter training posts!


Stay warm and have a wonderful and memorable holiday season!

Holiday Cards

Dec. 15th: Now this is how you spend a morning. With hot chocolate (with a candy cane melted in), sugar cookies, and Willow nibbling on romaine all while doing last minute touches to the cards. Willow and I finally finished the last holiday cards! They were put in the mail today. 📮✉️📬 Happy Holidays!








Celebrating World Mental Health Awareness Day 2016


We’ve all heard about stopping to smell the roses, but Willow is an advocate to stop and smell the romaine. Why? Because, besides the fact that romaine is delicious, romaine keeps going even after being cut down, even repeatedly. With just a little sustenance, water, it can grow again. Don’t let life cut you down because you’re an amazing person, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Mental health awareness is so important because  the problems people face are very real, but they tend to be invisible. Your best friend, sibling, parent, or anyone can have one or any number of mental disorders, but you may never know it. My guineas have always known what was going on, but it didn’t mean anyone else knew at the time.

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Rosh Hashanah – ראש השנה

ראש השנה

Monday, October 3rd was Rosh Hashanah and Willow was kind enough to take some time out of his day to help us celebrate the new year! He at least enjoyed the apples! 015


Straight from Willow’s Tunnel

The morning was what you’d expect from mom and her boyfriend. Mom got dressed quickly and was soon on her computer doing posts for work – which is silly since she said today was a holiday. I didn’t get it, but I thought that maybe I could get her attention for my need of breakfast. Usually I just get pellets and a refill of hay in the morning, but today? No. I wanted WAFFLES. Okay, maybe not, but I wanted romaine, and carrots, and green pepper, and cucumber, and apples. Seriously though? Mom said there would be apples and honey.

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Ash and the Adventure of the Mysterious Green Stuff

Ash and the Adventure of the Mysterious Green Stuff


Ash’s face when he heard that he got to write a blog post.

Entry 1, 6:58 A.M.:

I am so excited to be writing for this blog! My last servants “owners” didn’t have a blog. Lame!

Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit. My name is Ash, and today is the first day I and my brother Brock are spending in our new home! I love exploring, and I can’t wait to see what we discover today!


Entry 2, 10:18 A.M.:

So far, there has been a lot to explore. There is so much room, and there is another guinea pig here, whose name is Willow! Unfortunately, my adventures will have to pause for a bit. Our new owners (I think they call themselves “humans” and “fosters” – whatever that means) are insisting on putting us on their laps. All we do is sit there while they pet us. I don’t get how Brock likes it; I think it is the most boring thing ever!

Brock enjoying his lap time with the humans.

Brock enjoying his lap time with the humans.

Entry 3, 11:04 A.M.:

What is this? Is it a test? Is it poison? Are the humans trying to kill us?

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