It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but that doesn’t mean the rescue hasn’t been busy. We’re just too busy to write much!
2010 was a great year for the rescue: we placed nearly 100 animals. That’s astonishing to me. It’s the most we’ve ever placed in the nearly 10 year history of ACR&S; twice as many as our next-best year and over three times what we budget for every year! Fortunately, we’ve had more support than ever from adopters, donors, and foster homes, so we have reached this great milestone without too much financial hardship.
2010 was a much harder year in terms of losing animals, especially our older Sanctuary residents. We started the year with 14 guinea pigs in the Sanctuary. We ended it with only four; the lowest number of piggies I have had since I started guinea pig rescue in September 2001. I haven’t been able to bring myself to blog about the losses for several months; after this much time with them, losing them is more of a matter for personal, private grief.
However, so many people have been involved in this piggie’s life, that I feel it’s important to share: We said goodbye to Sadie last night. She was originally rescued and placed by our friends at Cave Springs in Virginia, back in 2005. In 2008 she and her partner were returned by their adopter, and due to their location, we ended up picking them up in North Carolina. At around 5 years old, it was felt that they wouldn’t be adoptable, so we transferred them to the Sanctuary in Wisconsin a year later.
Chester passed earlier in 2010 and Sadie was re-bonded with Tug, the last remaining resident from the Jacksonville 48 rescue in 2005.
Sadie started having trouble with bladder stones this past summer. We kept her on a very careful diet, which reduced the frequency and severity, but once stones start to occur, they come back again and again. She also had severe arthritis and we’ve been fighting an increasingly difficult battle of pain management.
We have been able to have all of her stones flushed out, but this last one was too big. The vet also felt that her age (she’s pushing 7, if not 8 ) she was not a good candidate for the extensive surgery and long recovery that would be required to remove it. We let her go yesterday evening. Her pain is gone now.
Now Tug is alone again, sharing a divided 3′x7′ cage with Dozer and Skunky, a pair of 4 year olds who were born in the rescue and never adopted. He’s pushing seven years himself, and having recurrent tooth problems that require twice monthly trims. I honestly didn’t expect him to outlive Sadie. Dozer had a thyroid tumor removed last summer, but otherwise he and Skunky are healthy.
I have just one guinea pig cage now, for the first time in nearly a decade.
Just three pigs, who all entered the rescue and never left it. None of them ever received a single adoption application. They’re all pigs that nobody else ever wanted.
They’re all I have left.
We lost Douglas last night. He came to us in September of 2008 after having been abandoned in an aquarium at a children’s camp – you can read the full story here. He came in with a giant tumor, and unfortunately our vet felt that it was of a type of tumor highly likely to return. Apparently these tumors pop up pretty quickly – Douglas received a clean bill of health from an excellent vet just a couple weeks ago, but last night I noticed he was drooling and found he had a large, hard lump under his chin. Aspiration revealed it was a large tumor that had started to necrotize in the center. The vet felt that removal of a tumor in this location and in this condition would be very difficult, potentially resulting in serious damage to his lower jaw, so we opted to euthanize rather than put him through that.
Douglas was a beautiful, friendly pig who has been a joy to all his cagemates as well as to every human who has known him. Goodbye, little guy.
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.
ACR&S wishes a sad farewell to Ori the rat, who had been sanctuary with us for nearly two years.
Ori came to us with another rat named Patchy. The two were surrendered because the owner’s cat kept pawing at the cage and trying to eat them. A couple of short weeks after surrender, Patchy was found prone and gasping for unexplained reasons. A trip to the emergency vet did not produce good news, and we lost her that evening.
Ori was left alone. We deliberated what to do with him — he wasn’t a very adoptable rat. He was scared of his own shadow (and everyone else’s) and would not accept treats, did not want to be social with people, and basically kept to himself. We made the decision to bring him in as a sanctuary animal to help keep company to some of our other, more sickly rats (we had Phredre and Ysandre at the time). He thrived in a quiet environment where he could laze in hammocks, inhale Suebee’s mix, and basically be respected as a scaredy-rat who didn’t want much to do with us.
About a month ago, we noticed that Ori seemed to be having heart problems. X-rays weren’t conclusive, and we opted to try heart medication to see if we could improve his health. He did get marginally better, but never really seemed to recover. On his last day, he seemed to panic when I picked him up and began gasping heavily for breath. We stabilized him at home and got him in to Dr. Munn first thing the next day. We could never get his breathing entirely to normal and as he began to degenerate we opted to euthanize him.
Necropsy revealed that Ori hadn’t had a heart problem at all. He had an enormous lung tumor that was pressing into his heart, mimicking the symptoms of heart disease. We were comforted that, although we were wrong, we hadn’t missed a problem that we would have been able to solve anyway. Lung cancers are fast moving and deadly. Rest is peace, Ori, we were happy to have you as a friend for so long.
It it with a very sad heart that we wish Huckleberry (formerly Buddy Holly) a swift trip to the bridge.
His adoptive mom, Swooz, emailed us this morning to let us know that he’d passed away — just two days shy of his four month adoptive anniversary. We first write about Huckleberry back in September of 2009, when he was abandoned at a local animal shelter in a skeletal, emaciated sate.
After fixing his dental issues, he went on to be adopted and became part of Swooz’s herd of older boars — Goldie and Shamojo and they fell in love famously, sharing cuddle cups and tunnels and most especially salads. Everyone at ACR&S was saddened to hear of his passing, and was thankful that he spent four months being loved and spoiled in the company of his brothers after spending so much time being neglected and starved.
We send all our thoughts and prayers to Swooz, Goldie, and Shamojo, and thank yet another one of our amazing adopters for providing an amazing home for one of the many special needs animals that arrive on our doorsteps.
It is with a heavy heart that we wish Pinball the guinea pig a swift trip over the bridge. Last Tuesday, January 19th, Pinball was back in for another tooth trim, in preparation for his new chin sling headgear. The weekend before (5 days after his last trim) we had already noticed his incisors out of alignment, and knew that we were likely to find the same situation this time as we had last time. And we were right. When Dr. Munn got a good gander at his teeth, they’d already trapped his tongue again.
He prepared to start trimming and prodded the first tooth gently. It fell out. The one behind it was also quite loose and with gentle wiggling also fell out. [Picture of the teeth can be viewed here] We were both flabbergasted, but I asked him to trim what remained and we’d go from there. He didn’t appear to have any trouble on the anesthesia while he was under, but showed some difficulty waking up. He was brought home to be coddled and kept warm until he could wake.
Pinball spent most of the evening in a quiet room on his heating pad in his carrier. Much later in the night, he started stirring regularly and we thought he was out of the woods. I went to bed and left my husband to keep an eye on him (to make sure he didn’t get burned on his heating pad and in case he had trouble). At 2am, Anthony woke me up to let me know that he’d sighed and breathed his last.
It was a staggering loss for us. He’d only been here a month, but Pinball was so energetic. He’d learned when feeding times were and would beg as adroitly as any of our other, normal piggies. He loved coating himself nearly head to toe with Critical Care, and tolerated his sponge baths with much dignity. We are still saddened by his loss, and we haven’t yet been able to bring ourselves to break down his little quarantine cage.
We would like to thank everyone who called, emailed, wrote, and posted their good thoughts and good wishes to Pinball. We told him every night how many people were pulling for him and how he’d never have to worry about anything again if we could only get through this. We received donations and cards from all over the US, and even internationally. Our sincere thanks go out to Sponsor a Guinea Pig for allowing Pinball to be January’s pig, and for helping organize all the good will going towards his recovery. If nothing else, Pinball’s illness has been an important wakeup call that vet care is never optional for small animals, and that denying them this care can severely impair them for life. If his suffering can help even one other pig to not end up in the same situation, it has not been in vain.
Thank you again, everyone, for your kind thoughts and for rooting for Pinball. He was one of a kind.
It’s been a very mixed month for us here at ACR&S. Some of our close friends have lost pets, and have welcomed new friends into their homes.
Clementine, first talked about here in the blog crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge. It’s likely that her initial bout with such severe neglect had long term complications that we originally could not forsee. Even though she had such a short time here with us, she lived in spoiled abandon, frolicking with her adopted buddies Ben, Bia, and Raindrop. In her memory, Alyse and Gabriella are going to their forever home with Celia, her mom. They leave tonight for a happy Thanksgiving!
Clementine was followed by Wayne, a senior piggie belonging to friend of ACR&S Blair. Wayne was an elderly guy (estimated to be around 7 years of age), so his passing was not unexpected, although it brought Blair & family a lot of grief, especially in the wake of the loss of their dog Rocco to aggressive cancer despite a hard fight with chemo. In his memory, Blair adopted Petey from us, who was neutered, and who will live with her youthful harem of young ladies.
We also lost Picchu, one of our pair of chins nearly two weeks ago. He was fine during first morning checkup, and bounced energetically to the side of the cage for his afternoon hay refresh, but when I went up in the night to tuck everyone in and do one last refill, he was prone in his hammock and cold. He was an amazing chinchilla that loved chin scratches more than anything, and we were devastated by his loss. His unusually friendly antics and clownish showboating are greatly missed in our little zoo.
On Friday, September 4, I came home to find Piglet had died in her sleep. I’ve posted fairly extensively about her in the past – simply type her name into the search bar to read her complete history. She ended up being with us a little over a year and a half. If the information we had on her was correct, she would have been about 4.5 years old – not too shabby for a pig who was malnourished and nearly starved to death through ignorance of her former owner.
I don’t really have much to say about losing her, because as much as it was inevitable, it really stinks. I’m just very, very glad that we of all people got the chance to be Piglet’s happy ending. Bye, you sweet little girl.
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