Isis gave up her long battle with health issues and left us last night.
She’d been unwell for a couple of years, really, but a few weeks ago she got really bad and I feared we were going to lose her. We made a vet appointment but by the time we got in to see him, she’d mostly recovered. Nevertheless the vet gave her a slow-release hormone shot and she sprang back, seemingly better than she’d been in months and months. We knew she was really old for a guinea pig and that we didn’t have much time left with her, but it was so great to see her cavorting like a young pig again.
Then yesterday afternoon I noticed she hadn’t eaten some treats I gave her. By evening her breathing had become very labored, as it had last month. She was still eating some but was becoming very selective. By the time I went to bed she was moving around again and I thought she was going to spring back, but this morning I was greeted by her still body rather than her usual strident demands for breakfast. It seems she went peacefully…she looked like she was sleeping.
On some level there’s a sense of relief. It’s so hard to tell how much discomfort a guinea pig is in, since they’re ‘prey animals’ and showing weakness is a good way to draw the attention of a predator. But I think she’d been pretty uncomfortable for a long while. She was slowly losing weight over the past few months in spite of eating plenty. I suspect her eyesight was going, too.
Her appreciation for pets and cuddles and scritches never left, though. Yesterday evening both Angela and I spent some quality ‘lap time’ with her (though in my case it was more like neck time… she’d crawled up and settled in on my shoulder with her little bum under my chin) and the last thing I did when I went to bed was give her a pet and I got a purr as a reward.
If you’ve never lived with a guinea pig all this fuss probably seems silly. I thought Angela was a bit bonkers when I first met her and she’d talk about Isis. Then I met her and my attitude changed and since then we’ve added two more members to our guinea pig family. Over the years as the vet bills ran into thousands of dollars friends would tell me “Just go buy another guinea pig!” and the pre-Isis me would’ve thought the same thing. But these creatures have strong personalities and are smarter than you might think. They are definitely not interchangeable.
So goodbye to Isis, or “Little bear” as I often called her. She’s somewhere in a better place where there’s plenty of fresh grass to eat and nothing looking to eat her. She’s probably already bossing other guinea pig spirits around, making things “just so” in the same way she managed to do that here with us.
Mimi and Mona are unsettled and a bit confused. When I came into the room this morning instead of the usual chorus of good morning purrs and soft wheeks, there was just silence. They knew something was wrong. Angela wanted to give them a chance to ‘say goodbye’ so we put them with Isis’s body. Mona just seemed perplexed but Mimi kept trying to prod or nip Isis awake. Heartbreaking.
If you have a pet of any kind, give him or her a hug for me today, will ya?