About a year ago I bought the boys their first pet; two guinea pigs the boys named Thunder and Lightning. I made the mistake of purchasing these little guys without doing any research. My thought was “how hard can it be to take care of two rodents?” I also made the mistake of buying them from a giant pet store. If ever you decide to buy a guinea pig make sure you look for a reputable breeder. We hadn’t owned them for very long when the dark one (Lightning) seemed to be paralyzed. After a trip to the vet and medication for an inner ear infection, he seemed to get a little better. His back legs continued to sprawl out behind him and after a lot of research through the internet, I discovered he had scurvy. After pumping him with vitamin “C” he seemed to be a little better and could get his back paws underneath his body but he will never be the same and has a hard time walking. However, he is able to get to his food and he can take care of himself so I feel he still has a good quality of life. The other guinea pig(white one) was pretty healthy from the start and never suffered any problems. That is until a few weeks ago, maybe even a month ago. I noticed some different behaviour from Thunder, he seemed more timid than usual. Compared to Lightning who is vocal and gregarious, Thunder is shy and quiet so his behaviour was even more withdrawn than usual. To spare all the details after a few weeks he seemed to go downhill and we got him to a veterinarian but unfortunately we were too late. The vet said since he was only a year old he might pull through and gave us a bunch of medication. When we first started administering the medication he seemed to be a little better but over a 24 hour period he went down hill fast, more like he fell off a cliff, and died. In hindsight, I should have just given him all of the pain-killer the vet gave me and let him die easy because he seemed to be in pain and it wasn’t an easy death. My youngest son (Matthew) was greatly affected by his death and I found his reaction interesting. We decided to bury Thunder in our back garden and my son insisted that he do the digging, placing our makeshift coffin in the ground and covering the coffin up with dirt. Both boys went through the house and found material to make a cross and stuck it in the ground to mark Thunder’s grave. Matthew talked a lot about his feelings that day and he essentially said that he could not get the way Thunder died out of his head. He also came to the realization that at times he played too much computer and didn’t spend as much time as he should have with Thunder. It was interesting as he was going through all the emotions we all go through when we lose someone we love. Lightning, our other guinea pig, was hit the hardest, you could see he was visibly upset. He now goes into his little house and shows us his butt. He’s never done that before, he always faces us when he’s in his house and watches as we move around and communicate. He now moons us whenever he goes into his house. The pressure is on now because the boys and my husband think we should get another Guinea pig for a companion for Lightning, but I don’t want another guinea pig, one is enough for me. Besides this could be a vicious circle; we have to get a younger guinea pig because if we bought an older one they would fight for dominance. One will eventually die and then I have to buy another companion – you see the circle here, this could go on for a long time. No thank you! It’s amazing to me how Lightning knew he was sick and when I think back one of the behavioural changes I first noticed was in Lightning. In the last month or so he was constantly cuddling up to Thunder. If he wasn’t cuddling up to him he was sitting in front of him staring at him, he would stare at him for hours not moving. The behaviour was odd and different from past behaviour but I’ve never owned guinea pigs before so I didn’t know what to make of it. Lightning knew Thunder was sick and if I was listening, I’m almost certain Lightning was trying to tell me. Life’s tough lessons and most certainly the lesson is to not take each other for granted and not to sweat the small stuff. Lessons my 11 year old figured out pretty quickly, let’s just hope the lesson lasts a lifetime.
Below is a couple of pictures of the last hours. The picture showing our two friends confirms how dedicated these animals are to one another. Lightning laid cuddled up into Thunder right to the very end, he never moved from his side – not for one second. This is much more than I expected from two rodents.