We lost Amber yesterday. Amber came to the Wisconsin Guinea Pig Rescue in early 2008. She was incredibly skittish, to the point that her foster mom thought she might literally die of fright. She was also a satin, which is a very pretty breed that is unfortunately congenitally prone to osteodystrophy, a disease where the bones do not retain and deposit minerals correctly – some bones become thickened and some become thin and brittle. It was determined that between her behavior and potential medical problems, she would be hard to adopt, and in July 2008 she came to live with us at ACR&S as a companion to Elmer. When Elmer died a year later, Amber went to live with Shtinky, shown here. They have been together ever since.
Amber has never been a friendly pig, but with Shtinky’s calm companionship, she finally stopped assuming that we were constantly out to kill her. In the last six months or so she’s even learned that we are a good source of treats, and has started begrudgingly taking her c-tablets from our fingers!
Recently, Amber has been showing signs of ovarian cysts including enlarged and crusty mammary glands. Fortunately, a spay is usually an easy fix for this problem. She went into surgery yesterday with the wonderful Dr Gibbons at Brook Falls Veterinary Hospital. Prior to surgery, he guessed that she probably had a uterine tumor as well as the cysts. We discussed the chance that she might not make it through surgery and decided that he would evaluate as he went along; if the tumor was diffuse or involved with other organs, we would euthanise her on the table; if it could be removed easily, he would finish the surgery and we’d take our chances with recovery. During the surgery he found cysts on both ovaries, a huge uterine tumor – over 2.5″ long and nearly 5% of her body weight – and multiple adhesions between the tumor and the abdominal wall, the bladder, and the ureters. However, he was able to remove all of the tumor and adhesions without complications and we thought she’d be fine. She woke up and was initially doing well during her post-surgical recovery period, but a few hours later she went shocky and we could tell it was time to let her go. She died peacefully without any pain.
We’re grateful to WI-GPR for giving us the chance to have this little girl in our lives. She was a wonderful and lovely little companion and we shall all miss her.
It’s been a busy week in the Sanctuary. We lost Chester on Friday May 14th. We noticed that he was down a little in weight and had a redued appetite on Sunday the 9th – this is why it’s important to always weigh your piggies frequently! His anorexia progressed into stasis, but we were able to stabilize him with assisted feedings and subcu fluid administration. On Thursday he was still not producing much poops and had started to have labored breathing, so we determined it was time for a vet visit. X-rays showed significant decrease in lung volume, as well as a large volume of air in the stomach and colon – he was swallowing air as he tried to breathe. The vet suspected an upper respiratory infection, but was hesitant to give antibiotics while he was already in GI distress, so we opted to wait another day and check the X-rays again to see if there was any improvement in lung condition. By Friday it was clear that he was losing the battle and we had him euthanized. Necropsy revealed mutiple nodules in the lungs which the vet suspects was lymphoma, although we are still awaiting the lab confirmation.
I’m very sorry to lose him and shall miss him, but I find comfort in the fact that he was over 7 years old. Sadie is still doing well and we’re getting ready to pair her with Douglas, another old man who recently lost his girlfriend.
Goodbye, Chester, and thank you for being such a sweet, wonderful companion to so many people over so many years!
We lost Ms Piggy today. She originally came to us from the Orange County Animal Shelter in late 2005, as a 2 or 3 year old by estimate. We took her in to pair with our Jacksonville pig Cookie for an adopter in early 2006. The pair were returned after about 18 months, and both had lost a lot of weight. Between this and their age it was decided to make them Sanctuary residents.
Cookie died in July 2008 and Ms Piggy was paired with Brownie (shown here to her right). Brownie passed in September. During all this time we were still trying to resolve Ms Piggy’s low weight.
In October 2008 we found an excellent vet, Paul Gibbons, who finally discovered that Ms Piggy’s weight loss, poor coat condition, constant thirst, and hyperactivity was due to hyperthyroidism. Although the guinea pig rescue community is well aware of hyperthyroidism in pigs, there is very little clinical data and only one or two published case reports, and Dr Gibbons had to get creative at adapting the protocols for diagnosis (by measuring T4 levels) and for treatment. We started treatment with Tapazole and after a few months of dose adjustment, found a dose which worked wonders for her. She put on weight and her other behaviors normalized. In December 2008 she was paired with Douglas, and they’ve been together ever since.
Ms Piggy’s behavior last night was perfectly normal – begging for dinner, running from her medicine. Her weight has been up, and there was no indication at all that she was ill or even slowing down. We suspect that it was just her time to go. At the lowest estimate, she is at least 5.5 years old – the length of time she’s been in the rescue, even assuming she was much younger than we thought on intake. She could certainly have been as old as 7!
She has been a sweet pig and we’re sad to see her go, but so happy she was in our lives for this long. Goodbye, little girl.