Goodbye, Gonzo

Posted in Memorials at 12:47 am by ACR&S

On September 2, we lost Gonzo. Gonzo was one of the Jacksonville 48, a group of mostly young, male pigs who were dumped by a breeder in summer 2005. They came from horrendous conditions, and Gonzo was among the older animals in the group, meaning he had endured neglect and malnutrition longer than most.

Gonzo was one of those who never left the Sanctuary. He was briefly placed into foster care, but returned within a couple of weeks when he started showing aggression towards other pigs.

For most of his subsequent time with us, Gonzo lived alone (although always in a divided cage so that he had a friend or two to talk to). It wasn’t until Spring 2008 that we managed to conduct a successful introduction, with two other pigs. He turned out to be the most submissive and least aggressive of the bunch, and seemed very happy with his new friends Freddy and Aragorn.

Unfortunately, we had already noticed that Gonzo was starting to lose weight. Combined with the behavioral change (more mellow temper), this alerted us that something was wrong. Bloodwork showed that his kidneys were not functioning normally. He didn’t have stones and was still eating like a horse, but after a few months it was clear that his kidneys were failing.

Unfortunately, in guinea pigs, there is no good treatment for kidney failure. Mostly, you provide fluids and supportive feeding as long as possible. He didn’t need any help eating – if anything, his appetite was bigger than normal – but his body just wasn’t getting what it needed, no matter how much he ate. He continued to lose weight.

It was hard to see him transform from one of the biggest, fattest, bravest pigs into a frail, thin thing with no interest in his friends. His weekly weighing on September 1 showed that he had finally lost nearly half his peak body weight, and we decided it was time. We said goodbye to him the next day.

I’m sorry we couldn’t do more for you, brave little man. See you on the other side.

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