Welcome animal lovers and the creatures they care for. You’ve found Lisa Burton Radio, the only show on the air that brings you the stars from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Buddy, a South American Degu. “Welcome to the show, Buddy.”
“Hi Lisa. Do you have any nibbles? I like nibbles… Especially cereal. No sugary kinds though, because I’m not allowed sugary foods. My favourite is Shreddies – do you have any Shreddies?”
“Maybe we should start off with exactly what a degu is. My research shows you are in the same family of animals that chinchillas come from. Care to expand on that for us?”
“A degu is a kind of rodent most closely related to guinea pigs. We look a bit like rats with furry tails, but our care needs are more like the care needs of chinchillas, which means we need things like regular sand baths, which most rodents don’t need. But we don’t tolerate cold nearly as well as chinchillas do, and our dietary requirements are stricter.”
“I have a little bio here, and it says your real name is Joshua. Not many animals go by a nickname. I’m sure our listeners would like to learn about that.”
“Yes. My real name is Joshua. I had three brothers: Jacob, Jasper, and Jenks. We looked almost exactly the same as each other, except for small white markings on our noses – or, in Jasper’s case, a lack of one. I love my brothers very much, and had some wonderful times with them. You can read about some of those times in my brother Jenks’ Degu Days Duo books.
“But then my brothers went away. I don’t know why, and I don’t know where. The human caretakers keep saying something about rainbow bridges, but it doesn’t’t’t’t’t’t make any sense to me. All I know is they went away one by one, and they didn’t come back for me.
“When I decided to share about what happened, I decided to use ‘Buddy’ so people would know mine isn’t another of my brothers’ stories of days when we were all together and happy.”
“Oh, buddy, I’m so sorry. I have a pet rabbit named Bunny and I don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happened to him.”
“I hope Bunny stays safe.
“I wish I knew what happened to my brothers. Like I said, the human caretakers keep saying something about rainbow bridges, but it doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, my brothers and I were close – we were together every single day from when we were pups – so if there was somewhere nice to go I’d have thought they’d come back for me, and a place with rainbow bridges does sound like a nice place to go, don’t you think?
“I do know one thing though: I last saw each of my brothers in the hands of the human caretakers. Rainbow bridges or not, I know they know where my brothers went. They must have done something to make them disappear. I can’t figure out what, but it makes me worry they’ll make me disappear too.”
“Oh, Buddy, I’m sure the humans love you very much. There were probably as devastated as you were.”
“I don’t know about that. But I know they did something. They know where my brothers went, and why they didn’t come back for me. I know they do. Maybe it’s their fault? Maybe they did something?
“Actually, I’m sure they did. I bet they’re planning to do something to me too. It will be me who they make disappear next, you wait and see! One day they’ll snatch me up and take me away, just like they did with my brothers. One day I’ll be in my cage, playing on my wheel, gnawing on some of my wooden toys, or whatever, and then… POOF! My cage will be empty and I’ll be gone too.
“I used to trust them. I used to be sure they’d keep me and my brothers safe. But whatever they did to make my brothers disappear broke that bond we had. After that just the thought of them getting their hands on me made me squeal in terror. I only let them near my cage because they had to do things like fill my food bowl, give me my sand bath, and that kind of thing.”
“Do you think you will ever give the caretakers another chance?”
“Maybe. I didn’t think so at first, but the female human caretaker is making me start to think I should. She’s being really kind and gentle. She hasn’t tried to force me to accept her attention, and is letting me come to her in my own time. She even brings Shreddies sometimes – Shreddies are my favourite!”
“That sounds pretty nice to me. I really hope you can repair your friendship with the humans. Any closing comments for our listeners today?”
“Thanks for letting me be on your show. It was nice to have some company for a while.
“I hope nobody else out there is missing someone as much as I am right now. If you are, I hope you have someone to do nice things for you to make you feel better, like bring you Shreddies – or whatever your favourite nibble is.
“Oh, and – if you see my brothers – tell them I miss them. It’s lonely in the cage without them.”
“If you want to know more about Buddy’s relationship with his caretakers, pick up the book How To Trust Your Human, by Victoria Zigler. I’ll include all the links on the website.
“You can help support all the amazing characters that appear on the show, and the authors who love them, by using those sharing buttons today. I’m sure Victoria and Buddy would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”
Losing a sibling is hard. Losing three of them is even harder. Repairing a broken bond of trust is harder still.
After his three brothers disappeared, one after another, gone to a mysterious place known only as The Rainbow Bridge, Buddy the degu is all alone in his cage. Confused and frightened, he knows only one thing for certain: he last saw his brothers in the hands of the human caretaker. That knowledge breaks the bond of trust forged between Buddy and his human in the years since he was a pup, and leaves him convinced that letting her get her hands on him will mean he disappears too. Somehow, she has to convince him he’s wrong, and earn back his trust.
Based on actual events that took place in the life of one of the author’s own degus, and told from the point of view of a degu, this is the story of how patience and love taught a confused and terrified rodent how to trust again.
Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, has a very vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in fictional worlds; some created by her, others created by other authors. When she remembers to spend some time in the real world, it’s mostly to spend time with her hubby and pets, though sometimes to indulge in other interests that capture her attention from time to time. To date she has published 8 poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the near future. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II.
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717