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Coping With Piggy Loss

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PiggyRuss

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Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well. I have just signed up to this forum so I can speak with other piggy lovers and share experiences and get advice.
My wife and I have kept two lovely Guinea Pigs, Cairo and Caesar, since we moved in together nearly 8 years ago. They have always lived in the hallway under the stairs (Don't worry, not like Harry Potter! Under the stairs is open plan so they have a lovely big run and home to enjoy).

Here is a picture of our lovely boys


Caesar is on the left, Cairo on the right. Caesar is the loud and naughty one, where as Cairo is the quiet, scared one (but he is the boss). They became part of our every day life, and of course living right next to us every day joined in on all aspects of our home life. For 7.5 years old, they were still the same happy wigglies with their own distinctive personalities, we love them so much. We don't handle them much, so they are not overly fond of cuddles, but still they are very much part of our little family.

I came home from work last Wednesday (I get home before my wife) to give them a clean out, started to take some of the hay out of the run. Cairo ran into the hut as he normally does, but Caesar just lead there staring at me not moving (he usually gets excited about being cleaned out). I noticed that he tried to get away from me but there was lots of hay tangled around his two back legs. I held him gently and untangled the hay, after which he tried to run away but his two back legs were hanging from the side of him and he was pulling himself with his two front legs.

This was immediately upsetting so I picked him up and separated him from Cairo (I have seen Cairo get a bit aggressive before when Caesar has been poorly so I wanted to make sure he was ok). I packed a nice safe box with fresh hay for him and took him down the to vets. The vet said he wasn't sure what had caused this, but was confident he could resolve the leg issues as Caesar still seemed quite high-spirited. The vet gave him a shot of anti-inflammatory and told us to come back in two days.
We kept Caesar from his bother still, and also because we didn't want him to try to walk around too much and get tangled with hay again from waking in circles. We noticed that he quickly started to appear quite glum, and we had to introduce him to his water and food because he wasn't going the drink or eat voluntarily. He also stopped eating hay, which was very worrying because fresh hay was always his favourite thing. He did have a little drink every so often, and had a nibble of some celery but that was it. My wife and I made sure we got up every 2 hours throughout the night and day to make sure he had a drink and something to eat, most of the time he refused.
We took him back to the vet 2 days later, and explained everything to the vet. The vet stated that he could seem some improvement as Caesar was starting to pull his leg back in when it was extended out by the vet, and that we was consciously aware of where his legs were, which was good. We were again to take him back in 2 days
From then on things got worse quick quickly. We tried to feed him and give him water via a syringe which the doctor recommended. We tried to give him vitamin C, his favourite celery and hay, but he wouldn't eat. We could get the food in his mouth but he wouldn't chew or grind his teeth and it just feel out the side. When we tried to get him to drink he would put his mouth on the water bottle but just stop and stare, like he had forgotten how to drink. Then each time we tried to give him anything he would turn his head away or bury his face. It was impossible, we tried everything. He became very weak, had lost quite a bit of weight and wasn't able to poo. We had to help him with that too, which wasn't very dignified for an old piggy. He would spend the time just lead there, not even trying to get up, and it was breaking our hearts.
After a few days we just spent our time cuddling him wondering if we should make the decision to PTS. Eventually we decided to take him to the vet as his quality of life was practically non-existent and he seemed to be suffering with breathing. We had mentally prepared ourselves for this, which as you probably know or can appreciate is a heart-breaking thing to do. We eventually got around to seeing the vet who knew about the decision we had mad. He then said to us that neurologically he thought Caesar hade made an improvement because his leg had more spring in it, and that he thought he could save him by injecting him with some painkillers and seeing how he progressed. This made my wife very upset as she now didn't know what to do. We said to the vet that our beloved Caesar was not the same animal anymore, it is like he had given up, would not eat or drink, and couldn't go to the toilet or look after himself anymore. I explained that he didn't have any quality of life anymore and that he was dying in front of us and we didn't want him to suffer anymore, it wasn't fair on him. He couldn't stand up or walk, and his breathing had become noisy and heavy. He was disorientated. The vet replied "I can save him though". I really didn't think it was possible, and I couldn't bear to see our little boy suffer anymore. My wife is heavily pregnant, breaking her heart over Caesar. and I made the decision to have him PTS.
We stayed with him whilst he has heavily sedated by the vet, we wanted to stay with him so he wasn't scared and that we could say goodbye. when he was under heavy sedation we left him with the vet and went home to prepare the garden for him to come back and finally rest. I picked him up 45 minutes later, and took him home. We had a cry and buried him in a special place in the back garden and are in the process of getting some lovely plants and flowers around his burial spot (my wife is a florist so it will look amazing!). He is now resting there, and we are making sure his brother Cairo is ok.

I have been haunted by the decision I made. I love Caesar so much, I did what I thought was the best thing for him because I loved him. It wasn't fair for a nearly 8 year old Guinea Pig to have to go through this, but what the vet said about keeping him alive has played on my mind and I am so upset about it. Our house is very quiet now, apart from the odd shout from Cairo asking for his tea. We will have a new addition to the family soon with the arrival of our little girl, but we will always miss Caesar.

Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to share this with others because my friends don't really understand, I have been getting "it's only a guinea pig" quite a lot which is really upsetting. if anyone has been through anything similar I would love to know if I did the right thing, it might help me with closure.

One last picture, Cairo on the left this time, Caesar on the right


Thanks everyone

Russ xx
 
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Beans&Toast

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So sorry for you're little Caeser. It sounds like he was loved very much and you and your wife did everything you could.

As far as the vet saying he could keep him alive, only you know your piggy well enough to make the decision you did. The vet may have been able to keep him alive but that doesn't mean it would have been a happy pain free life. You know him best, if he was miserable and not himself then PTS is sometimes the kindest thing you can do for them. He will have known in his final moments how much he was loved and cared for, so you have nothing to feel guilty or bad for, you gave him a good, happy life and he is at peace now.

I hope Cairo is doing okay, have you seen this link?
Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig
 

sport_billy

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Russ, Hello. I have spent a while reading through your post

I honestly think you made the right choice to PTS. There did sound to be more going on than a 'bad leg' I am thinking possibly a stroke or something, but it would be impossible to tell. You did not rush the decision and considered all the issues going on and his quality of life. I honestly think there was an underlying issue here that cause the paralysis and other problems.

I know you are hurting and in pain from losing Caesar you loved him so much. The are not just 'guinea pigs' any animal we love is part of our family - some people are just so narrow minded they can't understand loving animals and their lives in my opinion are worse for it It is not the species but the strength of the bond that defines love.

Making the decision to PTS is such a difficult one, it is a brave choice. You are helping your pet when they need you the most to stop them from suffering. You loved him so much you would never make the wrong decision on this. For what it's worth in your shoes I would have done the same thing.

Please feel free to write a memorial for beautiful Caesar in our Rainbow Bridge Section.

I would suggest having a read of this thread here to see how you can help Cairo get through this difficult time Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

Sorry for your loss, I really am

Lee
 

PiggyRuss

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So sorry for you're little Caeser. It sounds like he was loved very much and you and your wife did everything you could.

As far as the vet saying he could keep him alive, only you know your piggy well enough to make the decision you did. The vet may have been able to keep him alive but that doesn't mean it would have been a happy pain free life. You know him best, if he was miserable and not himself then PTS is sometimes the kindest thing you can do for them. He will have known in his final moments how much he was loved and cared for, so you have nothing to feel guilty or bad for, you gave him a good, happy life and he is at peace now.

I hope Cairo is doing okay, have you seen this link?
Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

Hello!

Thank you so much for your reply. He was miserable, it was so horrible seeing him like that. I think the vet was just interested in keeping him going and was only doing his job, it just made it that extra bit difficult for us to make the decision.
Cairo seems to be ok, although it is sometimes difficult to make out what a piggy is feeling. Thank you for the link, I will check it out. Very kind of you to reply :)

Russ
 

PiggyRuss

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Russ, Hello. I have spent a while reading through your post

I honestly think you made the right choice to PTS. There did sound to be more going on than a 'bad leg' I am thinking possibly a stroke or something, but it would be impossible to tell. You did not rush the decision and considered all the issues going on and his quality of life. I honestly think there was an underlying issue here that cause the paralysis and other problems.

I know you are hurting and in pain from losing Caesar you loved him so much. The are not just 'guinea pigs' any animal we love is part of our family - some people are just so narrow minded they can't understand loving animals and their lives in my opinion are worse for it It is not the species but the strength of the bond that defines love.

Making the decision to PTS is such a difficult one, it is a brave choice. You are helping your pet when they need you the most to stop them from suffering. You loved him so much you would never make the wrong decision on this. For what it's worth in your shoes I would have done the same thing.

Please feel free to write a memorial for beautiful Caesar in our Rainbow Bridge Section.

I would suggest having a read of this thread here to see how you can help Cairo get through this difficult time Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig

Sorry for your loss, I really am

Lee

Thanks for your reply Lee.

That is a really nice supportive message, thank you for taking the time to write a response to me. We know that we did the right thing really, it has just been hard for me to come to terms with the fact that it was my decision to end of the life of something that I loved so much. Your response has made me feel better and is very reassuring, thank you :)

I would love to write a memorial for Caesar, I will do that very soon.

Russ :)
 

Wiebke

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Hi and welcome!

Going for PTS is always a decision that is playing on your mind, especially when it is not a clear cut emergency. There is no right or wrong in these situations; it is down to where you set the accent between your piggy's interests, the prospects of recovery/quality of life, your own desires and (often) also how much you can afford to continue paying for usually very expensive care.
PTS is often the last, most loving but equally heart-breaking gift we can make a beloved pet. As long as you make the decision with Caesar's needs and quality of life first and foremost in mind, then you have not failed him.

It is also perfectly normal to have these feelings of doubt and failure at the beginning of the grieving process. They speak most loudly for your love and responsible care. We all have them in some form or shape.

You are welcome to post a tribute in our Rainbow Bridge section whenever it feels right for you.
 

helen105281

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You 100% made the right decision for him, as Lee said, yes the vet could have kept him alive but he wouldn't have been able to do all things piggy and that to me is a sign that a decision needs to be made. I have been through it a lot over the years and have learnt to judge when the time is right. It never gets any easier though. I'm so sorry for your loss.
 

Tiamolly123

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I am so so sorry for you both, I can see from your post that you loved him so much. It was wrong of the vet to put you in such a spot. You are a loving couple, & the decision to have Caesar PTS was a brave one but hard.
The people that said he was only a Guinea Pig, would not have a clue how Ceasar enriched your life. For him to have reached nearly 8yrs was a testimony of how, much you cared & loved him.
I have kept hamsters & recently had 3 die fairly recently, & we cried over everyone of them.
My heart goes to you. Sleep tight little man.
 

VickiA

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I am so sorry for your loss. I think you made exactly the right decision and for the right reasons. It's so hard to make that decision but I would have done exactly the same thing. You clearly loved him enough to do what was right for him.
 

PiggyRuss

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Hi and welcome!

Going for PTS is always a decision that is playing on your mind, especially when it is not a clear cut emergency. There is no right or wrong in these situations; it is down to where you set the accent between your piggy's interests, the prospects of recovery/quality of life, your own desires and (often) how much you can afford to continue paying in usually very expensive care.
PTS is often the last, most loving but equally heart-breaking gift we can make a beloved pet. As long as you make the decision with Caesar's needs and quality of life first and foremost in mind, then you have not failed him.

It is also perfectly normal to have these feelings of doubt and failure at the beginning of the grieving process. They speak most loudly for your love and responsible care. We all have them in some form or shape.

You are welcome to post a tribute in our Rainbow Bridge section whenever it feels right for you.

Thank you so much for your reply. That does help a lot thanks, and it helps to share this with people who understand. We are pleased that his brother Cairo doesn't seem to be showing much grief at the moment which is good, because the last thing we want is for him to be sad. I will definitely write a tribute for Caesar on that page. Thank you :)
 
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PiggyRuss

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You 100% made the right decision for him, as Lee said, yes the vet could have kept him alive but he wouldn't have been able to do all things piggy and that to me is a sign that a decision needs to be made. I have been through it a lot over the years and have learnt to judge when the time is right. It never gets any easier though. I'm so sorry for your loss.
Thank you so much, your kind words are comforting to us :)
We were glad we got to spend some close last moments with him too, but we knew the time had come. We always knew it would happen, but nothing can prepare you.
 

PiggyRuss

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I am so so sorry for you both, I can see from your post that you loved him so much. It was wrong of the vet to put you in such a spot. You are a loving couple, & the decision to have Caesar PTS was a brave one but hard.
The people that said he was only a Guinea Pig, would not have a clue how Ceasar enriched your life. For him to have reached nearly 8yrs was a testimony of how, much you cared & loved him.
I have kept hamsters & recently had 3 die fairly recently, & we cried over everyone of them.
My heart goes to you. Sleep tight little man.
Thank you so much. I know everyone is different, and some people just don't understand. These people are missing out if you ask me, but they are entitled to their opinion. I just thought it would help me deal with this by speaking to people who know and appreciate things like this. Never had to do anything like this before, but my wife and I are slowly starting to focus on the positive happy memories we have of him :)
 

PiggyRuss

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I am so sorry for your loss. I think you made exactly the right decision and for the right reasons. It's so hard to make that decision but I would have done exactly the same thing. You clearly loved him enough to do what was right for him.
Thank you for your kind words. We certainly did love him and still do, him and his brother have always been very spoilt :)
 

Freela

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I'm so sorry for your loss. Making the decision to have a beloved pet PTS is always so hard... I have been there a time or two myself. As you said, it all comes down to quality of life. Sometimes we 'can' keep them going a little bit longer, but is it really in their best interest? For what it's worth, I think you made the most compassionate choice for him, and with what you said about him refusing food and drink, I suspect he was likely either uncomfortable or his body was already in the process of shutting down and you just helped him along a little faster so he would suffer less. It's an awful decision to make, but I know when I have been there I knew in my heart that it was the kindest thing and the last act of love I could give, to spare them pain and give them peace. At 8 years old, he had an amazing life with people who clearly loved him... you were lucky to have each other.
 

PiggyRuss

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I'm so sorry for your loss. Making the decision to have a beloved pet PTS is always so hard... I have been there a time or two myself. As you said, it all comes down to quality of life. Sometimes we 'can' keep them going a little bit longer, but is it really in their best interest? For what it's worth, I think you made the most compassionate choice for him, and with what you said about him refusing food and drink, I suspect he was likely either uncomfortable or his body was already in the process of shutting down and you just helped him along a little faster so he would suffer less. It's an awful decision to make, but I know when I have been there I knew in my heart that it was the kindest thing and the last act of love I could give, to spare them pain and give them peace. At 8 years old, he had an amazing life with people who clearly loved him... you were lucky to have each other.
That is a lovely message thank you so much. We can't believe they have lived so long, and right until the end Caesar was burrowing around, walking about with hay all over his back and telling us off when his tea was 5 minutes late. It was just so sudden, completely out of the blue. Not sure what happened but he went downhill very quickly. The vet seemed to just want to keep him alive but we couldn't bear the thought of him suffering. It is so hard to tell how they feel. Our priority now is to look after his brother, who has always been a bit reluctant to be looked after :)
 

Freela

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That is a lovely message thank you so much. We can't believe they have lived so long, and right until the end Caesar was burrowing around, walking about with hay all over his back and telling us off when his tea was 5 minutes late. It was just so sudden, completely out of the blue. Not sure what happened but he went downhill very quickly. The vet seemed to just want to keep him alive but we couldn't bear the thought of him suffering. It is so hard to tell how they feel. Our priority now is to look after his brother, who has always been a bit reluctant to be looked after :)
Sometimes it's like that... the last pig we lost passed very quickly at about 6.5 years of age. She seemed fine in the evening, a little lethargic in the morning, was unable to swallow by late afternoon, and passed around 10 p.m. that night. It's hard without much warning. ((HUGS)) to you again!
 

GPTV

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So Sorry for your loss, what a handsome pair of boys.:wub:

i agree with your decision & the posts the others have made, you spent time weighing up your options before the vets. It wasn't rushed & his health wasn't improving enough to give him the quality of life he was used to & deserved.

you both obviously cared for the little fella & the decision to have him PTS in these circumstances is never an easy one, the grieving process will throw the feelings of guilt, pain, sadness, the 'what if's' and a whole load more at you, that unfortunately is just the price we have to pay for letting these little critters steal our hearts & becoming such a key part of our lives (especially for an impressive 8yrs).

i was once in a similar predicament, i had a deteriorating sweet little girl, she had a few manageable issues & then things started to build up getting worse, a big lump on her neck appeared (vet thought probably lymphoma) then shortly afterwards she was really unwell, the vet said she thought it was pneumonia. i took her to the vet with the decision in my head to have her PTS as i knew she was seriously ill, i had cried all the way there & must have looked a right mess in the waiting room.

the vet, i think wanted to give me hope (as yours may have done), she said with the pneumonia it would be difficult, but if anyone could get her through it then she thought i could (although extremely flattered she had so much confidence in me!) i decided that as i looked into those trusting, little, beady, eyes that looked up at me, she'd had enough & if i could do one last thing for her i had to help her over the bridge with dignity, where i knew she would be pain free & not suffer. she didn't have the same quality of life that she had always enjoyed & i thought i would only prolong her life- only to need more treatment that wouldn't be successful for the lymphoma ,if she was to survive the pneumonia anyway.
She was nearly 6yrs old & as hard as the decision was at the time i still know in my heart that this was the right decision for her... although it nearly 'broke' me at the time.

take no notice of people who say its just a guinea pig... they don't understand that no matter how big or small an animal is, it doesn't matter how much they are to buy or how long they are expected to live for. an animal is still a member of the family, it still needs care, attention, nurturing & love. if they don't understand this - then its them who are emotionally unsound not being able to relate to relationships & the bonds people form with an animal.

Big hug for you both & a chinny tickle for cairo,
RIP little ceasar, popcorn pain free over 'rainbow bridge'
:bye:

love the girls & I . xx
 
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LorryDriverLuke

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I think you made the right decision, don't let it play on your mind. If he was a younger pig then you'd have kept trying, but you were right, it wasn't fair to subject an elderly chap to more suffering. The decision to put to sleep an animal you dearly love because they're suffering is the ultimate act of love.
 

madguinealady

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We all know or own animals.I have had to make the decision so many times.Luckily every vet I've been to had agreed with me.I just knew when they had had enough.Huge hugs to you and your wife,he was lucky to have you as his slaves.
 

madguinealady

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We all know or own animals.I have had to make the decision so many times.Luckily every vet I've been to had agreed with me.I just knew when they had had enough.Huge hugs to you and your wife,he was lucky to have you as his slaves.
 
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