Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In Which We Lose a Guinea Pig

When Morgan was six he started pestering us for a pet, something that wasn't fish. We never had good luck with fish for him. By the time he was nearly 7 he was regularly checking on the price of guinea pigs & deciding how long it would take him to save up for one. Mr S agreed that a guinea pig would make a lovely present for his 7th birthday. So we went to the only "pet store" we trusted where the fellow in charge treats every animal as though it's his own personal pet. Not to mention the man is so full of information on each animal it's astounding. The point being, we picked out one little guinea pig for Morgan. We wanted two, as they are social creatures, but they only had one.

The entire gift was a huge hit with him & he was so proud of his new pet which he named Mary. We told him that he'd be getting another to keep little Mary company. Morgan hoped it would be a boy so he could name it Joseph. True story. The "pet shop" we used didn't produce animals on demand so our ability to obtain another for him was limited & we had to settle with a trip to the Animal Tuckerbox. We took our little piggie, Mary, with us & she went absolutely crazy when she heard the other little piggies in the cages carrying on. Morgan selected the one he wanted & the shop keeper went to collect it & was promptly bit. He refused to sell the biting pig to us knowing it would be a child's pet. Morgan selected again & came away with a piggie he named YiYi after reading a book about a little girl in China or Japan.

YiYi was always very wiry & not very cuddly while Mary was always bossy & semi personal with us. Imagine our shock in March, a month later, when we woke up & I spotted two little blobs in the cage. I seriously thought someone had tried to give the guinea pigs "cookies" as an Easter Gift & went to extract said "cookies" from the cage as I was trying to dash out the door to church. Only, said cookies squealed & ran around & I squealed, "Everyone come quick & see what's happened!"

YiYi had been pregnant when we obtained her! Sadly she had one girl & one boy so we had to seperate the whole family once the babies were old enough. Thus Cookie was born & named. Her brother, Oreo, was a big cry baby & a Mamma's boy. He was only content & didn't scream when I held him where as Cookie was most happy when the boys had her out for a proper play.

Morgan would stick her in Jayden's shopping trolly, atop a pillow of course, & push her round the house pointing out all sorts of things to her. He tried to take her for a walk around the yard, but I seriously discouraged that so he would bring the yard to her. Flowers, tree branches to nibble, handfuls of fresh grass, the list goes on. She quickly learned that when he called her name it meant he came with a gift or a pat for her & so she'd come running & squeal & jump around until he'd pay attention to her. Don't even get us started on what would happen when a camera came out, oh my that cheeky little piggie would pose for photos, see the one above where he brought out a camera & said, "Cookie shall we take your photo?" She stretched out & looked at him.

A few years later we had some neighborhood dogs attack our guinea pigs & it was Cookie who alerted us, at 3 am, to the problem. Sadly her Mum & "aunt" {Mary} didn't survive the attack, but Cookie did. We obtained her a friend who turned out to be a boy & she absolutely hated him. We then obtained a female friend for her which she loved to pieces once Nutmeg learned to get out of her way when Morgan's voice called out their names.

Cookie made peace with all the changes in her life often confiding in our family dog. We found it all very strange but often found her squeaking to him & he'd listen intently & then whimper back to her. When her mum & "aunt" died in the attack we found our dog lying on the spot we'd buried them. He'd go back & forth to Cookie who'd squeak or just lay by the side of the cage with him to the burial place. It was quite interesting, & sad, to watch.

And so life carried on as it often does with pets. Boy & piggies did their thing for several years. Once, when moving the outdoor hutch Cookie waltzed out of her cage. There was mass panic until we simply called out, "Cookie, come on now treats!" and she came running up squealing in delight. She'd let us know when she felt her breakfast should be served, or if she deserved an extra feeding, or when she was most put out at being left alone for a weekend without a single person saying hello to her.

Morgan informed me last month that Cookie was looking very thin, so I told him to bring her in. While he was doing that I was calculating her age, 1 month & 3 weeks shy of 7! Cookie was, indeed thin, & looked to be getting mites again. She often suffered with them. We bathed & treated her with medicine the vet gave us to keep on hand, gave her plenty of treats to make up for it, & then proceeded to be sure she had an extra feeding a day. But old age has a way of catching up on you completely unexpected.

While she relished her extra feedings she didn't perk back up. She continued to decline & Morgan became increasingly worried about her. We reminded him of how old his little friend was, but it did little to help. He was devastated when he noticed that Cookie was limping one day & that Nutmeg was simply nudging her along. We checked her over & there were no obvious signs of problems other then old age. She was most put out we had no treats.

When we came home this weekend Nutmeg was screaming & carrying on as soon as she heard us at the back door. Suspecting the worst we sent Morgan to the showers while we checked on the situation. Nutmeg only calmed down once we scooped up Cookie, & you know, that sweet little piggie was barely breathing, but held on long enough for her devastated little owner to say good-bye to her. He spent a long time telling her good-bye & patting her & attempting to believe that we weren't being nice when we said, "You've done an amazing job with that little pet. She's very old, especially in guinea pig age, & it's not your fault."

When he was done he flopped down on the couch & cried himself into an exhausted sleep & when he woke up she was gone. His other little piggie, Nutmeg was very excited to see him this morning all though disappointed her friend wasn't there. When Buster, the dog, came home from his weekend away he ran out to the piggie cage, as is his tradition, but stopped & then proceeded to simply throw himself down on the ground & lay there. He stayed there for over an hour & didn't bother to budge when we called him.

Needless to say she was one very special little guinea pig & she's going to be very missed around this home by the people & the other pets. Jayden asked if there was a heaven for pets & if maybe she was there with her mom & "aunt" now, but Morgan said he didn't think there was because so many animals die so often that heaven might be overrun if all of them went there. Sometimes, watching him grow up, is very very hard. Good-bye sweet little piggie, wherever you are we hope someone knows kiwis are your favourite.


Anonymous said...

I haven't commented before but I thought I'd let you know this post was a real tear jerker. I'm sorry you've lost Cookie, she was obviously a really special pet and will be missed greatly. I hope you can find Nutmeg another little friend, not to replace Cookie of course, just to keep her company.

There is definitely something about 7 year old boys and pets. Our son's "Cookie" is a cat, which will result in the same sad experience one day. I'm not looking forward to it.

Hugs to you all and give Nutmeg and extra special treat today...
Missy (AHS)

Catherine said...

So sorry to hear about your dear little Cookie, Kendra. xx