Sponsor a Guinea Pig – January

Posted in Medical, Sanctuary Spotlight at 2:01 pm by Jenn

Our very own Pinball is the pig of the month for Sponsor a Guinea Pig in January!  We are pleased and honored that we were choPinballsen to be January’s rescue.

Pinball was in again today for dental surgery (his incisors had overgrown horrendously since his first tooth trim on December 10th), and we got some extremely bad news for him.  His molars had also overgrown — and not only overgrew, but overgrew enough to trap his tongue!  Because of the speed with which they overgrew since his intial trim, his prognosis is not looking very good.  We have elected to go ahead and trim him back down to “zero”, to attempt massaging and possibly purchase a chin sling for him, and to give this guinea pig the chance that he didn’t get the first go-round.

We ask that you keep Pinball in your thoughts.  There has been an outpouring of love and support from all across the country, and we are touched and amazed that one little pig has meant so much to so many people.   As always, at ACR&S, we try to make the best choices for all of our animals, and sadly acknowledge that sometimes the best choice is a gentle end.  Be assured as we struggle to make the best choice for Pinball, our hearts are always looking to what is best for him in the long run.  Thank you again, everyone, for all the kindness that you’ve shown to a spunky little pig that got a second chance.


Another eye problem, another vet visit

Posted in Humor, Medical, Sanctuary Spotlight at 12:21 am by ACR&S


The oldest animal in my house is KiWeed, a 26 year old male cockatiel. He was surrendered to me in 2000, before I was really even an official rescue, due to aggression and biting.  He had significant damage to the right side of his head, including a misshapen nare and a cataract in his eye, probably due to being attacked by a cat in his youth. He ended up being a funny, pleasant bird, whose primary vice is attacking poking fingers (he has no problems with fingers as long as they are shaped like perches, and he has no problems with being kissed).

KiWeed is pushing the upper end of a normal cockatiel lifespan, so when he gets sick we always expect the worst. On Saturday, when I went in to wake him up, I noticed that his bad eye was watering and he was repeatedly rubbing that side of his face. With Chester’s eye problem fresh on my mind, I rushed KiWeed to the emergency vet, expecting that his old injuries were finally going to cause him to lose his eye or his life. All sorts of probabilities ran through my mind – tumor, infection, traumatic injury, you name it. Three hours and$300 later, we had our diagnosis:

A really big booger.

That’s right, KiWeed had nothing more than a stuffy nose (admittedly, probably due to a tiny fleck of food getting in there) and it was bothering him enough to cause the eye watering and the face rubbing. The vet flushed out the booger with saline, and we went on our merry way with no further difficulties.


Elmer has issues – or does he?

Posted in Medical, Sanctuary Spotlight at 12:09 am by ACR&S

Elmer is one of  our earliest rescues. He came into the rescue in early 2003 – his owner had bought him for her son for Christmas 2002, but her son was horribly disappointed that he wasn’t “cuddly enough” and so they decided to get  a kitten instead. She reported that she got Elmer from a family friend who had purchased him as a Christmas present in 2001, but this year got a puppy and decided to dump the pig. Twice rejected; what a start to his life!

elmer-cuddleElmer turned out to be an absolute darling, with cuddliness in excess, but we could never get anyone to adopt him, even after we bonded him with the lovely young Strawberry. After two years he came off the adoptable roster and became a Sanctuary resident.  Strawberry crossed the Rainbow Bridge in May of 2008, and in August we found a new young lady for Elmer – a timid little satin from WI-GPR who eventually gained the name of Amber. It’s a true May-December love affair; Amber is probably less than 18 months old, but Elmer is easily pushing 8 to 9 years.  He’s also showing his age – he’s become slower, quieter, and thinner as the years have passed.

Two weeks ago,  it looked like Elmer’s time was up. He declined his dinner on Saturday, and by Sunday evening had lost 100 grams (an 8th of his weight!). We stabilized him with subcu fluids and critical care (not much, he fought it tooth and nail), and we got him to the vet Monday morning. They ruled out tooth problems and bladder/kidney stones, the two most obvious culprits. An X-ray did reveal that his kidneys seemed slightly small, so bloodwork had to be done. Unfortunately, with the possibility of kidney problems on the table, we couldn’t give him any pain medication for the three days it took for the bloodwork results to come back. We kept him going with more fluids and feedings, and after a day or two he did start show some interest in lettuce, but we were pretty certain that he was terminal.

The bloodwork came back this past Thursday, and it was mostly unremarkable. There were some elevated liver values, but those are consistent with an animal who hasn’t been eating or drinking. By this past weekend, Elmer has been eating and behaving much more normally, and has put on nearly half of the weight he lost. We’ve had to mark this issue as resolved and he’s moved out of the hospital cage back into his old house with Amber. They seemed very happy to see one another!

So what was wrong with Elmer? My vet has no idea, neither do I. It could have been a simple case of stasis, but percipitated by what? He had no changes in diet or anything in the days leading up to this.  His case should stand as a warning that severe, life-threatening illness can arise quickly and for no apparent reason. If I had left Elmer alone for a weekend vacation, as so many owners do, I would not have noticed his decline in health and he would probably have been dead when I got back. Only daily observation and constant vigilance can ensure the health of our fragile little friends.  While it’s frustrating to have no diagnosis and no explanation to an illness that initially looked fatal, but I suppose it’s a good endorsement of my care that I can have a piggy get this ill and not lose him!


Sponsor a Guinea Pig for March!

Posted in Sanctuary Spotlight, Sponsor A Guinea Pig at 8:55 am by ACR&S

Yay for Maddie! Sponsor a Guinea Pig raised an amazing $370 for our little girl in February, that’s $100 over our original goal! We can’t say thank you enough to all the wonderful folks who have donated!

maddie-snoozeMaddie will say THANK YOU when she’s not catching up on her beauty sleep!

Now it’s time for the March piggies! Meet Josh and Yetti

from the Scottish Rescue Thistle Cavies!

Josh and Yetti are just two special needs piggies at Thistle Cavies, and they are the best of buds. Josh is 6.5 years old and has been with the rescue for 3 and a half years. Yetti is a white rex who developed heart problems about 18 months ago, at the same as Josh, who had already suffered from a host of other medical problems.

Prior to his heart issues, Josh required extensive surgery for a jawbone abscess shortly after his arrival. An infection had eaten away part of his jawbone and part of his jaw had to be removed, as well as one of his bottom incisors. Despite the most meticulous of care the rescue feared they might lose Josh, and for two months his recovery seemed unsure. But eventually he started putting on weight, and never looked back!

Now his surgery site needs to be maintained with regular procedures, but Josh is the definition of a patient piggy. He is a calm sweetheart who loves being syringefed, despite his mouth issues. He is also a super cuddle piggy who just snuggles into you as soon as he’s picked up.

Yetti is his best friend, and the two simply can’t be separated. Yetti’s heart issues make him a candidate for Sponsor a Guinea Pig alone, but with the close bond they have it’s doubtful Yetti would let Josh go on without him anyway! We hope to help ease the financial burden of this small, home based rescue by fundraising for part of their care, just as the medications will be easing the physical burden on these small boys’ dear hearts.

SAGP is trying fundraise enough to pay for the expensive dental growth removal (£45.oo or $63. 71), six weeks worth of medication: Fortekor (£22.50 or $31.85), Frusemide (£2.20 or $3.11), Rimadyl (£18.30 or $25.91) and Critical Care (£29.29 or $41.47), as well as two additional packages of Critical Care for the boys 2x(£29.29 or $41.47). This is for a total of £175.87 or ~$248.99, using an exchange rate of £1:$1.41574 as of 2/28/2009.

Please visit Sponsor a Guinea Pig to see both US and UK currency donation links at bottom Josh & Yetti’s entry!


Sponsor a Guinea Pig for February!

Posted in Sanctuary Spotlight, Sponsor A Guinea Pig at 8:10 am by ACR&S

The January piggies, Jackie & Chester, exceeded their fundraising goal!! Thanks so much to everyone who supports Sponsor a Guinea Pig!

With a new month comes a new piggy – our very own MADDIE!


Maddie was found in a shelter in Lynchburg, VA. She had been surrendered by her owner with no reason or explanation. When our volunteer arrived to pick her up, she was panicked. She was screaming at the top of her lungs and smashing into her pigloo and the walls of the cage. In short, she was hysterical. The shelter didn’t realize anything was wrong with her, but our volunteer quickly did.

Maddie is a “lethal” guinea pig. A lethal is a genetic deformity caused when irresponsible breeders or ignorant owners allow dalmatian or roan guinea pigs to breed with each other. In a dalmatian or roan pig, they have one copy of the gene which makes their unusual color. When a guinea pig has two of those genes, they’re a lethal, and they have severe congenital problems from birth. More disturbing is that some breeders even purposefully breed this combination in order to have a higher chance of producing the pretty pigs with the markings they so highly prize.

In Maddie’s case, this means a variety of things:

  • she has small, deformed eyes (a condition called micropthalmia)
  • she is blind due to her undersized eyes
  • she is deaf
  • she is missing several teeth
  • her remaining teeth are constantly overgrowing and coming out alignment due to jaw malformation issues.

She may also have internal digestive issues. Other lethals, upon necropsy, have shown a variety of deformities and abnormalities in their digestive tract which contribute to a shortened lifespan, even with a doting and caring parent.

Despite her medical issues, Maddie has become a special friend to many. She is unusually friendly, and enjoys being held and petted. She is the loudest wheeker in her sanctuary mom, Andrea’s, household, and brings a smile to faces as she begs shamelessly for treats.

Maddie requires monthly trips to see her favorite vet, Dr. Powers, in Charlotte for tooth trims. These cost $70 ($50 for the trim, $20 for the anesthesia). We’d like to raise enough for two months of trims ($140), as well as pay for a three month supply of metacam ($30), a three month supply of critical care ($20), and a one month supply of veggies ($40)! In total we’d like to fundraise $230.

Read more about Maddie over at Sponsor a Guinea Pig, check out the upcoming March piggies Josh & Yetti, or donate to support Maddie now!!


Sponsor a Guinea Pig for November!

Posted in Sanctuary Spotlight at 4:39 am by ACR&S

Time again to Sponsor a Rescued Guinea Pig! NOVEMBER‘s guinea pig of the month is Sono, a one year old guinea pig with the Critter Connection in Connecticut. She was a stray guinea pig brought to animal control, where she was then picked up by the Critter Connection–and just in time! Sono was malnourished, dehydrated, and suffering from vitamin C deficiency. An x-ray showed that metabolic changes were occuring in her spine, either from an injury or the severe malnourishment. She suffered from infections in three out of four of her footpads. These are classic signs up a guinea pig being housed on a wire floor.

Sono now has a daily medication schedule, as well as daily food and vitamin supplements. She also needs daily physical therapy. This only the start of her recovery. Despite all her woes, Sono remains a plucky pig, always happy for attention.

Please CLICK HERE to make a tax-deductible donation directly to the rescue, or CLICK HERE to read more from our friends at Sponsor a Rescued Guinea Pig!


Sponsor a Guinea Pig for October!

Posted in Sanctuary Spotlight at 12:02 am by ACR&S

Sponsor-A-Guinea-Pig has a new pair of piggies up for October! Cinnamon and Salizar are a senior pair of sweethearts-at six years old, they have been through adoptions, returns, lost mates, and now they’re going to spend the rest of their life at the rescue, living the good life. They met and fell in love in the rescue in their senior years.

SAGP hopes to raise $200 to fund two months of their care!

When Salizar (on the left) was just a young boy in the rescue he lost his eye in an attempt to assert dominance. He still found a loving adopter, and was able to be paired with other males successfully. He had to be returned to the rescue when his owner moved to New Zealand.

Cinnamon and her mate were returned to the rescue when her owner was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her owner was devastated to return them. The rescue wrote, “Collecting them from their Mom and watching their farewells was incredibly hard. Sadly she passed away several weeks later and Cinnamon’s beau also passed following surgery to remove a stone from his bladder.” Around the same time Salizar’s bonded mate, who was in poor health, passed away, and both pigs were lonely and depressed. The two were introduced and have now been bonded for years.

Cinnamon and Salizar have slowed over the years. Salizar suffers from arthritis and asthma, and needs his eye socket cleaned daily. He also suffers from impaction issues. Cinnamon is presently fighting an infection. The two pigs are still close friends who love each other deeply. “They snuggle together and still love to dine in style together..Salazar and Cinnamon are an ‘old’ couple, they do not run about their cage but rather paddle about it.” Thank you to Wee Companions for caring for homeless animals in their old age!

We are grateful to SAGP for featuring our own Piglet as August’s Piggy of the Month, and hope all our supporters will pay it forward by visiting SAGP to continue to support other needy Sanctuary piggies!


Piglet’s SAGP month ends with over $200 in donations!

Posted in Sanctuary Spotlight at 2:43 am by ACR&S

I’ve announced a couple of times that Piglet was chosen as the August beneficiary of Sponsor A Guinea Pig. I’m happy to report that SAGP gathered well over $200 in donations! That means this month’s tooth trimming was completely covered!

Here are some updates and new pictures of our Piglet. As always, click the thumbnail for a larger image.

Piglet is always waiting for dinner in (or under) her cuddle cup when I get home. You can see she still has a smudge of breakfast on her nose!

SO HAPPY DINNER OM NOM NOM!! Finally eating alfalfa. I mix it with a little timothy/bluegrass to try to trick her but that usually just gets pushed to the back

Wait, is there more?

A very happy ending.

We cannot give enough thanks to SAGP and all of the people who donated through this innovative program. It makes a huge difference in Piglet’s life, as well as in the lives of the other animals we can help, now that the whole month’s budget isn’t already earmarked for Sanctuary vetcare.

Please visit SAGP in September to support a new piggy, BOOTS!

He is an absolutely adorable skinny pig who was rescued from a tragic hoarding situation. His lifetime care is guaranteed by private donations and the volunteers of CA rescue Orange County Cavy Haven. Boots has kidney disease, and is on daily medication. OCCH is 501(c)3 so donations to Boots are also tax deductable. You can also sign up for a recurring subscription donation, which lets you automatically donate to a new piggy each month!


Welcome, Sadie & Chester!

Posted in Sanctuary Spotlight at 1:35 am by ACR&S

We’ve got a few new residents up here at the Sanctuary. On June 19, I spent about 5 hours waiting for Midwest flight 2704 from Raleigh to Milwaukee, which had a special climate-controlled, pressurized cargo compartment carrying three new Sanctuary residents. I spoke about Gracie in the last update, now it’s time to introduce Sadie & Chester!

SadieChester & Sadie are a bonded pair of piggies. Sadie is mostly white, with lovely gold and black markings on her head, and a slight coronet (swirl of fur on the forehead). Chester is fawn, red, and white, and is enormous (nearly 3 lbs, over 1300 grams). They came to us through some unusual channels.

When they were about 1 year old, they were rescued by our friends up at Cave Spring Guinea Pig Rescue in Virginia, and then placed into an adoptive home. But after nearly four years, they were returned. ChesterCave Spring was inundated with surrender requests at the time, so having a pair of older pigs was hard on them. But we at ACR&S had very few adoptable pigs. Since these two were already bonded, altered and vet checked, we offered to bring them down to NC and offer them for adoption here, as we’ve done before with other Cave Spring piggies.

We knew that as 4/5 year old pigs, these two would be very difficult to rehome. Guinea pigs only have a 5-8 year lifespan, and we wouldn’t be able to guarantee to adopters that they wouldn’t die of old age very quickly. Also, unusually, Sadie is spayed and Chester is intact, so we couldn’t place them into a home with any other intact females. Chester is also aggressive towards other boys, so other intact boys were also out of the question. We’d pretty much be limited to adopters with no other pigs, who understood that they were taking on elderly animals and was prepared for the medical expenses that might crop up. That kind of adopter is pretty rare!

After several months of offering them up for adoption, we saw they were getting very few views on Petfinder, compared to our younger pigs. Since we were shipping up Gracie anyhow, we decided to ship them up as well, for entry into the Sanctuary. They endured the trip with good health and good spirits, despite having a leaky bottle and damp bedding by the time we made it home. They’ve already settled into the routine and learned when screaming makes the veggies come faster, and when it doesn’t.

We did have to make one special accommodation for these two: our cages are set up so that any empty cage I arranged for them would have to be next to a pair with an intact female. Regardless of how remote the possibility, we had to assume that Chester would scale the divider and impregnate the sow next door, so we had to modify the divider to prevent this. Fortunately, an advantage of having fat piggies is that they aren’t quite so athletic. He’s shown no interest in the other side of the divider at all!


Welcome, Gracie!

Posted in Day-to-day, Husbandry How-to, Sanctuary Spotlight at 2:33 am by ACR&S

We’ve got a few new residents up here at the Sanctuary. On June 19, I spent about 5 hours waiting for Midwest flight 2704 from Raleigh to Milwaukee, which had a special climate-controlled, pressurized cargo compartment carrying three new Sanctuary residents. I’m spreading their introduction over two posts, so today I’m pleased to introduce Gracie.

Gracie is a spayed female Californian rabbit, between 6 and 8 years old. She was owned for 5.5 years until a job transfer made her owner decide to give her up.

GracieCalifornians are huge rabbits, in the 10lb range, having originally been developed for meat and fur production. Gracie’s size, age, and some fairly minor age-related health concerns would have made it nearly impossible to find an adopter for her, so although it’s not standard practice for owner surrenders, we agreed to a direct transfer to the Sanctuary.

This transfer would also be advantageous for us: we have an existing bonded pair of very large rabbits, Roo and BunBun. Roo is only 7 or so years old, but his partner BunBun is nearly 12. With BunBun clearly showing his age, we’ve been having to give thought to a future partner for Roo once BunBun passes. But we don’t have any other potential bondmates for Roo in the Sanctuary (our primary candidate, Jeannie, has proven beyond a doubt that she hates him and will murder him if given the opportunity), so practically any solution required bringing in another rabbit.

Ideally, it’s best to form a triple in a situation like this, so that there is no solitary grieving period when the eldest bunny passes; the other two can comfort one another. At the same time, making a triple is very difficult. The existing pair-bond is strained, and the difficulties of introduction and bonding are doubled. But I thought we might have a better than average chance with Gracie, Roo, and BunBun, because of some unique circumstances in their history:

Gracie has outlived two previous partners, both neutered males, so she has a proven track record of being able to bond with other rabbits. The members of the Sanctuary pair are both males, the most difficult pair to achieve, so adding in a female wouldn’t strain the relationship to the same extent as if they were a mixed-sex pair. Roo and BunBun also had a female third at one point early in their bond, when all three were still being offered up for adotion (Paula was later placed with one of our board members into a new pairing). Finally, since all the rabbits are members of large, mellow breeds, I didn’t expect the furious scuffling that can occasionally arise in introductions with smaller, more fiery breeds (Jeannie is an exception to this rule).

When planning an introduction, I always schedule it for a weekend when I plan to be home pretty much continuously. Rabbits do best when allowed to work out their dominance issues without too much human interference – one rule of thumb is, “don’t separate them unless you see blood”. Not strictly true, of course (see these pages for detailed HRS introduction techniques), but it gives you the idea that you want to interfere as little as possible. To do this safely, you have to be available to be home and to observe the rabbits carefully in case things turn sour.

So Friday night, I began the introduction. I decided to start by violating one of the main guidelines for intros: using neutral territory. Instead, I dumped Gracie into Roo & BunBun’s cage. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, KIDS. It’s an excellent way to end up spending your Friday night at the emergency vet.

Whether by intuition or luck, I was right: there were no major problems. Gracie decided to show that she’s the new boss, and for all her enormous size (she’s a few pounds bigger even than Roo!), she spent some time chasing and humping both Roo and BunBun. Fortunately, both figured out quickly that they could just go into a litterbox and hide from her, and she’s too lazy and fat to follow for very long.

Once their chubby butts were all tired out and the chasing had stopped, I offered some fresh hay and some veggies and pellets to see whether they fought for resources. Not at all. They contentedly shared hay, veggies, and pellets, occasionally grooming one another’s noses or ears as they happened to brush against them. This is a very excellent sign and indicated to me that they were probably not going to escalate beyond mounting.

[Aside: In the picture above, you can see tufts of fur sticking out all over all three rabbits. In young rabbits, this could be a sign that they had been fur-pulling or biting one another, but in these guys, it’s just a result of their poor grooming habits. Failure to self-groom is a common sign of aging; BunBun in particular needs to be groomed by human hands every few days, otherwise he looks like a dandelion about to explode.]

After two full days and three nights, they’re still doing wonderfully. Mounting has almost totally diminished as of yesterday afternoon. This morning, I caught Roo and Gracie laying side-by-side (BunBun, as is his habit, was snoozing a few feet away in his hidy box). I think we have our triple, and now I have a little more peace of mind about Roo’s future when BunBun crosses the Bridge.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »