We lost Brownie on Friday September 19.
Brownie was one of the earliest residents of the Sanctuary. He and his brother/cousin/daddy Greyly came to us in February 2003. We were told they were about three years old. They had been adopted from the Orange County Animal Shelter, but returned within a couple of weeks later because they didn’t get along with the adopter’s other pig. At that point OCAS had too many other small animals, and requested that we take them in.
Over the course of the next year, they didn’t garner much interest from adopters. I found this bizarre, since I considered them the most attractive pigs I’d ever seen. Then in 2004 Brownie developed a large number of lumpy growths over his body, which were diagnosed as benign faty cysts, not harmful, but pretty much guaranteeing he would be unadoptable. At the time, both boys were living together in a herd with three other neutered males, so when we finally found a wonderful adopter who was interested in Greyly, we let him go. Brownie was content to remain with his friends Odin, Loki, and Thor.
The last of these original partners, Thor, died in December 2007, and Brownie was alone for several months afterward. We tried numerous other pigs with him but he was fairly defensive and didn’t tolerate much aggression from his cagemates. In August 2008 he was successfully partnered with an older girl, Ms Piggy.
In March 2008, Brownie broke a tooth. It did not grow back correctly, and since then he has had recurrent malocclusions of both the molars and incisors, requiring monthly trimming to control. This is very similar to what we saw in Greyly, who suffered severe and recurrent tooth problems before his death in 2005. With Brownie, we hoped we could manage the malocclusions through monthly tooth trims. These require anesthesia and are fairly high-risk in an animal so old, but without them, his incisors cut into the roof of his mouth and his molars cut into his tongue and cheeks.
On Friday, we took Brownie in for a regular tooth trim. He had a routine pre-anesthetic blood panel that showed no changes in kidney or liver function, which would contraindicate anesthesia. However, he never woke up. About six hours after the surgery, he was still unresponsive, his breath became shallower and shallower. Finally he died in my arms. He was about eight and a half years old, if our original information was correct.
This has been one of the hardest deaths for me to deal with, in this year of so many losses. He was one of the very first animals we rescues as a newly-incorporated rescue. He has been with me through so many changes, and he put up with all of my incompetence and experiments with such good natured patience. And this is one of the first deaths this year where I find myself second-guessing, wondering whether we could have done anything differently, for a different outcome.
I miss you, fuzz butt. Forgive me, and I hope you finally have peace.