Amidst all the crap that was last week, the worst thing that happened finally happened: our first, and oldest, pet passed away.
You know how sometimes you just know that something really bad is about to happen? Or how sometimes you just know that someone (or something) is going to die shortly? Well, I had that feeling about Furry, our guinea pig. The six months or so, she was moving a little slower, sleeping a little more, and losing a bit of weight. We started giving her more food by hand because we thought that perhaps Mo, our 2-year-old guinea pig from hell, was stealing all the food (because she does). I'd sit with Furry and she'd nibble on pieces of cucumber (from the middle part out) or green pepper, as pleased as a pig can be.
Although she never really gained back any weight, she seemed fine otherwise. Totally happy, eating, drinking, curious, doing all the normal piggy things. But all along, I watched her, because something told me her time was coming. It wasn't just the fact that she was now 7 years old (which equals OLD in guinea pig years). It was something else that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
So, last Wednesday, I got up and noticed that Furry wasn't moving around, was facing the back of the cage, and seemed a little too quiet. Her breathing was also different. So, I picked her up and held her all morning while I studied anatomy. I held her in my lap on a soft blanket, with a small bowl full of cut-up green pepper, and I talked to her and fed her. I massaged her ears the way she liked. I brushed her little hair tuft with my finger, knowing it was probably one of the last times I would do so.
I had to go to school that afternoon, so I called Mr. Handsome to give him a heads-up. The last thing I wanted was for the kids to come home from school and find Furry had died.
We had a break at about 6 p.m., so I called home to see how things were going. And I could tell right away that what I feared would happen had happened. Mr. Handsome sounded flustered, sad, not himself. He said Furry had passed away about 10 minutes earlier, very peacefully. Everyone had said their good-byes, spent lots of time with her, and then she just lay down and stopped breathing.
It was so hard for me not to cry right there in class, but I kept it under control. That is, until I got home after class that night. Mr. Handsome and the kids had already put Furry into her resting place -- a shoebox filled with hay, some fresh veggies and Vitamin C, to tide her over until she got to piggy heaven. When I opened the box and saw her, lying so still, I broke down and sobbed.
And I have to admit that, although animals are precious to me, I kept telling myself to stop being so emotional. She was, after all, "just" a guinea pig.
But she wasn't. She was Furry. And Furry was our first dear pet, our pig with attitude. She was quirky, and cute, and had a sense of humour, and we all loved her a lot. She had a very strong personality, and was more like a tiny dog than a guinea pig. Not only that, but she was darn cute.
We're going to miss you, Furry.