The story goes on and on…

Posted in Day-to-day at 10:33 am by Jenn

This is the story of Ferdinand the guinea pig, and how he came to an end at the hands of humans without compassion.

I was called on Tuesday, July 22rd, around 12pm on the rescue line at work. I listened to the voicemail when it came in. Two guys, working at a small office in a neighboring city, had come into possession of two guinea pigs. They had been found outside that morning, and could we come and pick them up? They admitted they were nice animals, but they had no experience or personal desire to keep said nice animals, and really felt like we knew more of what we were doing.

I asked some questions about their health to ascertain how emergent the situation was. He said their eyes were clear, they were moving around the cage, and that he couldn’t see any mucous caked around their noses, and that both were nibbling at food and that he heard the water bottle being used (and saw water disappearing, consequently). All of these things sounded completely normal for two very freaked out pigs who had just survived a night in the parking lot. I made plans to pick them up after work.

When I arrived, the very nice people at the office had actually made an emergency supply run to the local Walmart to procure some bedding, a water bottle, a cage, just for temporary use. But even with completely new supplies, the pigs smelled absolutely fetid.

I pulled each pig out in turn, checking sex to see if we were soon going to have a lot of stray pigs. Luckily, both were male.

The larger of the two seemed to be in fine shape. An almost completely black abbyssinian, he was big and frisky and chowing down heartily on the food they’d purchased for him. Unfortunately, nearly his entire underside was bald and covered with scabs. He appeared to have “urine scald”, which happens when animals stay in their own urine and feces for extended periods of time. The acidic nature of urine will actually burn the skin.

The second pig was not in good shape. He was much smaller, and for whatever reason, the entire ordeal had been much harder on him. When I picked him up, he flopped like a rag doll, and some clear liquid (perhaps water?) streamed out of his mouth onto my hand. I thanked the office profusely and told them we were going go the vet.

I arrived at our vet’s office 20 minutes later. Both pigs were examined, and the smaller one actually sat and retched repeatedly during his gentle palpations. I was told, basically, that he was not doing well, but that anything we could do may make him worse from stress. Take him home, give him pedialyte at room temperature, wait, and say a prayer to the deity of my choice. He was breathing in gasping, heaving breaths.

I arrived home at 5:30pm. Knowing that the smaller of the two pigs was not likely to survive, I enlisted Anthony to help me ready their living area. We quickly sat up my largest quarantine cage (much smaller than a C&C, but 3 times as large as the cage they had been in), and inserted the pigs. The bigger pig immediately started wolfing down pellets and nibbling at hay, but the smaller one was not interested.

He felt very cool to the touch. I got some Pedialyte that hadn’t made it into the fridge, got a 1CC syringe, and started slowly working some liquid into his system. While I did that, Anthony grabbed the laptop and we started looking for names. He deserved to have a name and a home if the worst happened. The horrible people who had abandoned him in a parking lot had taken everything from him — identity, home, health, and now even his hope. He deserved to have something of his own.

While browsing, we saw the name Ferdinand, and both of us were reminded of the book, “The Story of Ferdinand” about a bull who didn’t want to fight, but wanted to smell the flowers instead. This little guy certainly needed a bull’s strength, but had such a kind, patient eye, that the name seemed perfect. The actual meaning of Ferdinand was “to be courageous”. It was appropriate.

It took about an hour of careful syringing to get an entire CC into his poor little body. As I finished, he wheeked at me weakly, and gave me a small headbutt as I petted his head. I put him back into his cage so I could grab a quick bite of supper and then come back to continue nursing him.

30 minutes later, I heard him scream and saw him convulse. I knew it wasn’t good. I called Susan on my cell phone, and we decided to run for the emergency vet. He was probably going to have to be euthanized, but at least he wouldn’t be in agony for hours. I threw on my shoes and tucked him into a cat carrier, wrapped in a fleece. I called the vet on the phone to let them know I was coming.

I opened the carrier for the trip, and stuck my hand into the fleece so that he could feel me. His breathing had finally calmed down. About a mile out of my driveway, I felt him draw a deep, ragged breath. He seemed to sigh and laid his head down against my hand. I told him with a choked voice that it was ok to go, because I knew he was hurting. And then he died.

I pulled over into the parking lot of some warehouse and pulled him out of the carrier. I didn’t want to believe it. It wasn’t right that he should die. He didn’t do anything wrong. He was so young, only a baby. He couldn’t have been more than 7-8 months old. But he was gone. And I sat there with him for several minutes and cried.

I returned home with him. It was 7:24pm. I had known him for 3 hours, and now he was dead. He awaits burial in my freezer. It was pouring and lightning last night, so it wasn’t in the cards.

So this is the story of Ferdinand. Of a guinea pig that had everything taken from him, even his hope. And who was left in a way that made death the only option left for him.

Ferdinand left behind his buddy, Sullivan, the black abby pig. Sullivan is getting along very well, and eating with hearty appetite. He will be looking for his forever home very soon.


  1. Searching for happy endings » Bladder Stone Trouble said,

    August 29, 2008 at 3:47 am

    […] I asked him to try and break them and find her bladder, but gave my blessing to euthanize her on the table if for some reason organs were damaged. It’s extremely common to do so, because adhesions are tough to get around. I fully expected to be burying Mnemie next to poor Ferdinand. […]

  2. Searching for happy endings » Sullivan writes his own ending. said,

    September 29, 2008 at 10:02 am

    […] one of the two pigs abandoned in a parking lot in July of this year, got to write his happy ending this […]

  3. Lovemypig said,

    September 29, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I am crying for poor Ferdinand’s short, unhappy life here on earth. He surely deserved better than living a short life, uncared for and eventually abandoned and unwanted. Any animal deserves better, except for those heartless humans who did this to him.

    At least he died knowing that at last he was in the hands of someone who cared. Still, my heart breaks for him.

    Thank you, Ferdinand, for the gift of sweet Sullivan. We are honored to now be his forever home and hope to serve your memory well by lavishing him with all the love, care and attention that you surely deserved as well.

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you to All Creatures for saving these two pigs, even though Ferdinand lost his battle for life. Thank you for saving Sully. He is happy, safe and loved now and we are so appreciative.