Grieving Guinea Pig :'(

roseriley

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Hello everyone. Last year was the worst year of my pet owning life. It was full of so much illness and loss from cancer (three different animals), heart failure (two of them), and other completely unpreventable illnesses. Tragically, I lost three out of my four piggies. Only my little Puddles was left. He's an incredibly sweet and sociable pig who doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body. Naturally, the day after we lost his final brother we got him a little sister because Puddles couldn't be alone. This was months ago.

While him and little baby Yona get along amazingly, I can tell Puddles isn't the same. Along with just a general attitude change and him being a lot less playful, every so often he'll startle me awake with chirping. Before we lost the piggies he had only chirped once, and it was when we were dismantling my bed frame, which was very loud. Now he does it semi-regularly, and it breaks my heart.

I really am wondering if he would be happier if I added another baby sow into the herd, because he was in a herd of four before? Is this a possibility? I'm really considering it. I don't want to jump into anything because I'm still grieving also. But, if it would help liven him up, should I take the leap? I'd do anything to make him feel less pain.
 

Elthysia

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Firstly I am so sorry for your losses. It sounds like it has been a very difficult time.

I understand he has been with baby Yona for some months now, and that makes me think that he is not necessarily grieving anymore. I am not sure he is in pain. Doubtlessly however I think you probably are, and that says a lot about what a caring owner you are.

Having a little herd is always more lively than a pair of piggies, but it can also be a lot more aggro. Liveliness doesn’t always mean happiness. I know my sow is a lot happier with just one companion then in a group - she’s become a lot more lively now there are fewer. However my boar was more lively in a group of women.

All piggies are different and yes adding a sow may make things more lively, but equally baby Yona may be much unhappier even if Puddles becomes more lively. Then you may have to split them up and end with 2 and 1 in separate cages. So adding a sow is an option but no answer for piggy happiness. I think piggy happiness is quite simple: love, clean cage, food and companionship.

After months I don’t think he will be pining for his lost companions, not because it didn’t hurt but I think their minds are just simpler than ours. Perhaps some new toys or a change of cage layout can help. And lots of love which I’m sure you’re already providing.

I’m sorry this isn’t a yes or no answer, I guess I’m saying you could add another sow but be careful and have a plan b in case it doesn’t work out.

Sending you lots of love and wishes for a better pet year.
 

roseriley

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@Elthysia Thank you so much for the response!

I actually completely changed their cage out, got new hides, toys, snuggle sacks, etc. because I thought that maybe he just needed a change, but it didn't seem to change much.

And yeah you're right. It's not just about what Puddles needs, but what Yona needs too. I'm just wondering if he's used to having a bigger herd, and if that's something they can miss. He's never been in a pair. He was the baby I got for my trio who brought life to their cage. If Yona couldn't handle it though, that would be a big problem :(
 

Elthysia

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I don’t think he misses being in a herd - I say that because I (in plain terms) don’t think they have the capacity to sit and think “I really miss being in a herd”. Sure he may miss his old companions though.

Personally I’ve always added more pigs at the point I got down to two, as I too like the herd liveliness. But last time I added more it didn’t work out so now I have two cages rather than one huge one, with a pair in each. Not quite what I had hoped for. So just make sure you have a plan B if you decide to get more companions and it doesn’t work out.

In all I’m saying don’t rush, have a plan B, take some time to get to know baby Yona too and what she likes. And also some time for you to come to terms with everything until you’re ready to bond. Take care of yourself. Puddles is ok (unless there’s a med issue we didn’t discuss) and not pining away or in pain.
 

Wiebke

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Hello everyone. Last year was the worst year of my pet owning life. It was full of so much illness and loss from cancer (three different animals), heart failure (two of them), and other completely unpreventable illnesses. Tragically, I lost three out of my four piggies. Only my little Puddles was left. He's an incredibly sweet and sociable pig who doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body. Naturally, the day after we lost his final brother we got him a little sister because Puddles couldn't be alone. This was months ago.

While him and little baby Yona get along amazingly, I can tell Puddles isn't the same. Along with just a general attitude change and him being a lot less playful, every so often he'll startle me awake with chirping. Before we lost the piggies he had only chirped once, and it was when we were dismantling my bed frame, which was very loud. Now he does it semi-regularly, and it breaks my heart.

I really am wondering if he would be happier if I added another baby sow into the herd, because he was in a herd of four before? Is this a possibility? I'm really considering it. I don't want to jump into anything because I'm still grieving also. But, if it would help liven him up, should I take the leap? I'd do anything to make him feel less pain.
Hi and welcome!

I am very sorry for your losses. it is hard when you come to the end of an era. Sadly humans and guinea pigs never differ as much as when they grieve. Not in the depth of their feelings but in how strong the need to survive and the need for companionship is.

As long as your boy has already got company he will be fine while you do your research and sort out yourself.

Please be aware that adding a second baby may not find the consent of his new baby wife if she feels that her position is threatened; trios are pretty much the trickiest constellation to get just right! I have often made that experience in well bonded cross gender or sow pairs.
You have to have a plan B at the ready if you can't take your piggies rescue dating to choose any more mates (two sows are likely working better than just one as you move into small group dynamics again). The safest place for expanding a bonded pair is a good standard rescue with mandatory quarantine/vet care and pregnancy watch for incoming sows, you come home only with healthy piggies where accpetance has already happened and where you have the rescue to fall back on if you have problems; a little extra effort for avoiding all the pitfalls that can await the unwary goes a long way!

Please make sure that you have your boy vet checked in case there is an underlying health problem that his grief-lowered immune system is no longer holding in check. it is important that you always close out the illness angle, especially in older piggies before you diagnose a depression.

Please take the time to read these links here. You do not want to rush into anything and end up with problems
Looking After A Bereaved Guinea Pig (Includes links to recommended rescues that offer rescue dating in several countries as well information on short and long term care for bereaved piggies and human grieving support).
Adding More Guinea Pigs Or Merging Pairs – What Works And What Not?

What to check and look out for in new guinea pigs (vet checks, sexing, parasites&illness)
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
 

Merab's Slave

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Welcome to the forum and so sorry you had such a rough year.
I've found that with new bondings and bereavements piggies simply adapt and find a new way of living with their companions.
For Puddles being with Yona is a new relationship and so he behaves differently with her.
Look after yourself and allow yourself the time to grieve - it really does take time.
 
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