Saying goodbye…

“Mom! Mom! Something’s wrong with Ben!” Jeremy wailed. “Please, can you help me clean his cage? He needs to have a clean cage to die in!”

It was 2 o’clock on Saturday morning and the quickest I’d woke in years.

“Jeremy, give me your guinea pig and I’ll cuddle him in bed,” I said as reassuringly as I could. Zie handed me a freshly washed, sopping wet piggy and I tucked him under the covers and cradled him beside me. Ben snuffled my hair and started chewing. I’m his food lady but today I arrived empty handed. I guess he figured my hair would be good enough.

“Can you give me something to feed Ben?” I asked and Jeremy promptly handed me a carrot.

“Ben’s front leg isn’t working,” zie cried as Ben happily chewed on his favourite food. “And there’s something wrong with his left eye.” I could only see his right which looked fine to me.

I cuddled with Ben for about ten minutes then changed into a dry nightie and went back to sleep. Luckily Jeremy went to sleep as well. I snuck into the living room yesterday morning fully expecting to find a body. Instead I found a bright eyed piggy happily gnawing on his pepper; his full weight on both front legs. He’d eaten well the night before and looked perfectly fine now. I assured Jeremy all was well and zir geriatric piggy was on the mend. Then we went out for the day. Ben still looked fine when we got home.

I woke this morning and decided to start my day off with a morning hike. I had to pass the guinea pig cage to get my shoes. No squeaks greeted me. Anyone who’s ever had a piggy knows how unusual that is. Ben was curled oddly under some hay in the back corner of his cage and he bit me when I reached in. I grabbed him by the waist instead and lifted while Ben flailed… both right legs hung uselessly. His waist was tiny and his anus protruded alarmingly.

I cradled him in my arm and gently fed him a carrot, which he took eagerly, whimpering for more. Then he stopped wanting the carrot but continued to whimper helplessly. I called the local vet clinic only to find out they were closed. One more day… one last day with Ben.

Of course I needed to tell Jeremy and woke zir as gently as I could. This is zir very own pet, one we’ve had since zie was 10 years old, I knew it wouldn’t go well. I handed the piggy over and headed out for apple sauce and baby asprin. I wasn’t going to have his last day full of pain.

Thankfully I bought a mortar and pestle from Dollarama last month so I was able to grind the tablet down to a fine powder to mix with apple sauce. I found orange flavoured ones too so the bitter taste wouldn’t deter him and managed to spoon feed him the whole pill (after checking weight and dosage for cavies). Twenty minutes later he was groggy and ready to lie down. So was I.

“Mom! Mom! Ben’s doing so much better! His legs are working again and he can walk… see!” Jeremy announced eagerly.

I blinked and rolled over in time to see Jeremy place Ben on the ground. The piggy stood trembling for a second then attempted to take a step with legs that no longer worked properly. He collapsed onto his side, legs twitching frantically in his panic to get back up.

“Hon, pick him up now. Please!” I implored. Jeremy immediately complied.

“See, he’s doing even better than before,” Jeremy said happily. “Once he gets more food in him he’ll be even stronger.”

Zir words felt like a blow. Ben’s unable to walk and can no longer lap water from his water bottle. Instead I’m feeding him water from a dropper. He can’t walk and he’s having massive issues with pooping. And he’s eight years old! His brother and cage mate died on my birthday almost a full year ago. He’s an elderly pig and it’s his time to go.

After dinner I’m bundling Ben up in a dish towel and taking him out for a walk in the woods. He’s enjoying being held and, while in our arms, he can feel the wind and smell the grass, trees, and flowers. Then I’ll dose him up with more pain medication so he can have a pain free night before we say goodbye to him tomorrow.

Hopefully Jeremy will be able to forgive me for letting Ben go.

Ben2

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21 thoughts on “Saying goodbye…

  1. Oh hugs to you all!!!! Ur pets are part of our family and for all, adult and children alike, seeing them suffer is tough…. Hope Bens time with you is smooth and pain free xxxx

  2. It’s really hard to see a pet suffer. They become part of the family and it hurts to have to let them go. It won’t be easy but I’m sure Jeremy will understand.

  3. Well, I read the post and was going to wish you things including an easy trasnition (death) for Ben. (Yeah, I see it as transition, but realize others see it differently, which is fine).

    So, I see I’m here after Ben has left. So now I will wish you support (for you and for Jeremy) in this time of grief and loss and sadness. And I wish you supportive people who appreciate the wonderful connection you had with Ben, and sweet care you gave him, and the meanings he had in your lives. I also hope both you and Jeremy will (over time) find ways to make meaning of Ben’s death that feel good and appropriate, and find ways to honor the connection and the meanings that continue on in you.

    I am so touched by your description of the care you gave to Ben in his last days.

    RIP, Ben, knowing you have been loved and you have expressed love in your very own ways.

  4. Just like to mention – have you talked to a vet about what human pain meds are safe for guinea pigs? Because other species often react very differently to meds that are safe for humans. My Mom was tempted to put tea tree oil on a wound our cat had (as she would with us) but I insisted we not do it unless we clear it with a vet. I later found out tea tree oil is very poisonous to cats.

    • He was dying at the time. The baby advil seemed to help and he died in Jeremy’s hands the next morning.

      Thanks for the information about tea tree oil as we have three kitties.

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