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Lonely Guinea Pig, Lost Her Boyfriend.

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Parnassus

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(Please let me know if I'm posting in the wrong topic area, I'm new to the site.) I need advice or support or tips of any kind!

A few months ago, we adopted a newly bonded pair that was fostered by the lady who runs the local rescue. One is part satin (4-6 months old, the rescue wasn't consistent on this age) and her boyfriend was a teddy (est. over 1 year old).

When we first adopted them (and were told nothing of their medical or behavioral problems - only that the foster home rarely if ever gave them veggies (yikes!) ) and took them for check-ups (only days after we brought them home), the boy had the following:
1. TWO different types of ear infections in each ear, caused by two different kinds of bacteria
2. he was overweight, but had underdeveloped muscles (the vet thinks he was in a bad situation either with other pigs, a human, or both)
3. terrified of our hands
4. aggressive in the cage, deer in headlights in our laps
5. warned of a possibly developing UTI, and to keep an eye on his urine

The girl had chompers getting too long.

After a month, we got them both to these states:

The boy:
1. Cleared of ear infections!
2. Losing weight, getting lots of floor time for exercise (we would hide treats in cardboard rolls, so he had to sniff around find them and pull them out of the cardboard! It worked great!)
3. Conditioning to love hands like he loved food (pets on the nose, then a veggie - eventually, he would offer his nose to me so he could rush the process, so we started petting further back over time - slowly, consistently! We let him tell us when he was ready for progress.)
4. He developed a UTI just after we cleared his ear infections, we rushed him into an emergency appt. and cleared him of that 1 week later (we had x-rays done to eliminate stones as well, and vet said there were no signs of stones)

The girl: Excellent chompers! Seems she didn't know that wood toys were a chewing option, so we had to teach her she can chew on things that aren't food (the boy helped lead the way).

The boy passed away a few days ago, in my lap, on the way to the vet. We suspect it was liquid bloat and we've had two vets favor this theory. We didn't perform a necropsy as this was a sudden, painful death for our household, and we're still struggling to cope. So, we buried him in our yard to start the grieving process.

We need to look forward for our lonely piggy. She's still eating and drinking, but she's lost her spark. We're giving her extra love and attention, we bought her a baby stuffed toy to cuddle, which she lays next to a lot. She's skittish without her man by her side. Yesterday, she puddled in my boyfriend's lap during dinner veggie time, which I think is a good sign.

Now here comes my problem: I already contacted the local guinea pig rescue where we first got them to see about our piggy's grieving process and when we should start looking for a new friend. The lady who fostered them is accusing us of neglect for not bringing the boy to a "guinea pig savvy" vet in the first place, and has insisted we release his medical records to her to "examine" herself. And we took our piggy in to see a new vet (one that this lady recommended) to ensure she doesn't have anything that could have been bacterial, viral, fungal, etc. I insisted on a blood test despite the vet's skepticism that it's necessary and it all came back perfectly normal. I've shared all our boy's records with this lady and even shared that a vet she "trusts" cleared our piggy of any danger or problems.

1. I listed the vet we planned to (and did) use on our adoption application, which she approved. If she had a problem with that vet, that should have been discussed before she gave me animals.
2. She gave me a guinea pig that was not taken care of or given the time and attention he needed it the most! Something happened to him to scare him with hands and she just chalked it up to a "funny personality". He had bifurcations on both ears, so he was obviously kept with piggies that attacked him before he met our girl and he was with this "rescue" for almost a YEAR.
3. I'm livid that she would try to blame something out of our control on us, especially so soon after we lost him, and he didn't die for our lack of trying! But we have no other rescue in town, so I'm afraid that she's going to try and fault us anyway, and our piggy will be lonely forever.

We grew very attached to our special guy, because he came to us with so many problems and we spent every day for over three months working through it all with him. We wanted to save him from what life he was given before us, and it already feels like we failed him. But taking blame from someone who contributed to his problems is making this time more difficult. I don't know where else to turn.

Has anyone else had to deal with unprofessional rescues? What did you do to avoid your piggy suffering as a consequence? I'm so worried for our piggy, I want her to be happy and popcorn again!
 
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artcasper

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Ahh so sorry for your loss.. Sounds to me like you did everything you possibly could .. Good luck finding a new friend for your girl xx
 

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By-gum!
Sounds like you have done an absolutely sterling job with both your rescue piggies, and nothing you could have done any better. In fact already I see your first post and think to myself "oh touch-nose-and-veggie-treat", what a fab idea to try with one of my shy untouchables. - It sounds like you are very piggy-savvy, more so than the rescue.
If it were me I would keep everything documented, as you have, and inform her that you do not appreciate her tone, especially as what you did was pre-approved by her and that you have the medical records to show the health issues they had when you first adopted them, as compared to the much better health they were in shortly before the boar suffered his suspected bloat. I would also inform her that you are disgusted with the way she has handled the whole thing and that you intend to cut ties with her. But that's me.

What a shocker!

In the meantime I hope you have some much better luck with another rescue. There is a rescue locator at the top of the forum, and these rescues have a good reputation amongst forum members.

And on top of all of this you are grieving too, so I do understand that you're really going through it right now. Huge hugs to you xx
 
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Wiebke

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You are obviously a very caring piggy slave. I am so sorry for your loss; your poor boy couldn't have been in better hands. At least you will have that comfort.

I am ever so sorry for your bad experiences! Sadly, there is no licence or description of standards of what makes a good rescue, so basically anybody can call themselves a rescue and there is no control as their standard. Sadly, this means that there are some rather funny places and some true hellholes out there. :(

Personally, I would not use this rescue again if you have got other options. It is clearly not up to standard.

It would be very helpful if you please added your country, state/province or UK county to your details, so we can help you with more local recommendations if possible. We have got members from all over the world. Click on your username, go to personal details and scroll down to location. Thank you!

You can find a recommended good standard UK rescue locator on the top bar, but we can also provide a link to recommended rescues in other countries if wished.
All these rescues we can guarantee for in terms of care while in rescue and during the rehoming process; they all have a mandatory quarantine and medical care, a pregnancy watch for incoming sows and will only rehome guinea pigs that have been declared healthy after a vet check, will only be rehomed to owners of an appropriate experience level if there are fear/trauma issues and will be carefully bonded/character matched at the rescue. If one of these things cannot be done, a piggy will stay on as a permanent well looked after resident. Most of our recommended rescues offer dating (meet&greet bonding) at the rescue under expert supervision, but not every rescue has got neutered boars.

PS: You are welcome to post a tribute to your much loved boy in our Rainbow Bridge section if or whenever it feels right for you.
 

Parnassus

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By-gum!
Sounds like you have done an absolutely sterling job with both your rescue piggies, and nothing you could have done any better. In fact already I see your first post and think to myself "oh touch-nose-and-veggie-treat", what a fab idea to try with one of my shy untouchables. - It sounds like you are very piggy-savvy, more so than the rescue.
If it were me I would keep everything documented, as you have, and inform her that you do not appreciate her tone, especially as what you did was pre-approved by her and that you have the medical records to show the health issues they had when you first adopted them, as compared to the much better health they were in shortly before the boar suffered his suspected bloat. I would also inform her that you are disgusted with the way she has handled the whole thing and that you intend to cut ties with her. But that's me.

What a shocker!

In the meantime I hope you have some much better luck with another rescue. There is a rescue locator at the top of the forum, and these rescues have a good reputation amongst forum members.

And on top of all of this you are grieving too, so I do understand that you're really going through it right now. Huge hugs to you xx
Thanks for the tip! I already sent his records over, awaiting a response. My thinking was that I didn't want my anger to stop our piggy's progress to move on, but after hearing some confirmation that the local rescue is not doing a good job with their piggies, I'm not so sure I want our healthy girl to get attached to yet another one that may pass a few months later. I don't want to put her at risk, either.

On the nose touch and treat, I also found it helpful to just leave a veggie in my hand (slowly, low, and right in front of him) for him to sniff while I pet the nose, so he'd associate my smell and the touch with the delicious heavenly treats. It's totally worth it! Our vet noted his attitude was much improved after just a month of this.
 

Parnassus

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You are obviously a very caring piggy slave. I am so sorry for your loss; your poor boy couldn't have been in better hands. At least you will have that comfort.

I am ever so sorry for your bad experiences! Sadly, there is no licence or description of standards of what makes a good rescue, so basically anybody can call themselves a rescue and there is no control as their standard. Sadly, this means that there are some rather funny places and some true hellholes out there. :(

Personally, I would not use this rescue again if you have got other options. It is clearly not up to standard.

It would be very helpful if you please added your country, state/province or UK county to your details, so we can help you with more local recommendations if possible. We have got members from all over the world. Click on your username, go to personal details and scroll down to location. Thank you!

You can find a recommended good standard UK rescue locator on the top bar, but we can also provide a link to recommended rescues in other countries if wished.
All these rescues we can guarantee for in terms of care while in rescue and during the rehoming process; they all have a mandatory quarantine and medical care, a pregnancy watch for incoming sows and will only rehome guinea pigs that have been declared healthy after a vet check, will only be rehomed to owners of an appropriate experience level if there are fear/trauma issues and will be carefully bonded/character matched at the rescue. If one of these things cannot be done, a piggy will stay on as a permanent well looked after resident. Most of our recommended rescues offer dating (meet&greet bonding) at the rescue under expert supervision, but not every rescue has got neutered boars.

PS: You are welcome to post a tribute to your much loved boy in our Rainbow Bridge section if or whenever it feels right for you.
Thanks for acknowledging that this rescue isn't impressing you, as it can seem like I'm a little crazy for thinking this is more on them than they would admit. I added my location to my profile! If anyone can recommend a rescue that isn't the Portland one, that would be amazing.

Thanks so much for the feedback, it's helping more than I could describe.
 

Wiebke

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Thanks for acknowledging that this rescue isn't impressing you, as it can seem like I'm a little crazy for thinking this is more on them than they would admit. I added my location to my profile! If anyone can recommend a rescue that isn't the Portland one, that would be amazing.

Thanks so much for the feedback, it's helping more than I could describe.
I must admit that until now I had the impression that Portland Guinea Pig Rescue was operating to a high standard and had access to a good vet. As far as I know, they are a fairly new rescue and may have felt rather defensive about having been caught out very much on the wrong foot. It wouldn't be the first time that has happened. At least you have got the vet records that show that you have appropriately cared for your boy and that he has been promptly treated.

Sadly, it is the only guinea pig rescue in your whole state. The next decent one I know of would be North Star Rescue in Pacifica in the Bay area. The only rescue in Washington is very much upstate. :(

However, in all fairness, it sounds to me that your issues lie with the particular fosterer and not the rescue itself, except that they should have made sure that the piggies were health checked again before rehoming, especially if they had been in rescue for some time.

PS: Did your vet check just the front teeth or the back teeth, too? Most overgrown front teeth are caused by overgrown premolars. Guinea pigs don't need chewing toys with healthy teeth.
They need to eat up to 80% of the daily food intake as hay to keep the crucial back teeth ground down evenly; only about 10-15% of the daily food intake should be vegetables and 5-10 pellets. The front teeth should be self- sharpening in a healthy mouth and not need any treatment at all.

A low vegetable diet is actually recommended.
 

Critter

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No, it's not you at fault, it's them. It is good you sent the records though, they will hopefully learn a thing or two from it....
I hope someone can point you to a good rescue not too far from you.

It's great that chatting on the forum is helping you through this difficult situation, that's what we are all here for :) x

And thank you for that tip, I will be trying it on my shy little Oreo. She is warming up to me and likes to nose-sniff me through the bars and eat from my hands, but is scared of being touched, so I tend to respect her wishes, but if I can get her used to being touched without fear then that would be better, especially as I do need to pick her up on occasions to check her over and clip her nails :) x
 

Parnassus

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I must admit that until now I had the impression that Portland Guinea Pig Rescue was operating to a high standard and had access to a good vet. As far as I know, they are a fairly new rescue and may have felt rather defensive about having been caught out very much on the wrong foot. It wouldn't be the first time that has happened. At least you have got the vet records that show that you have appropriately cared for your boy and that he has been promptly treated.

Sadly, it is the only guinea pig rescue in your whole state. The next decent one I know of would be North Star Rescue in Pacifica in the Bay area. The only rescue in Washington is very much upstate. :(

However, in all fairness, it sounds to me that your issues lie with the particular fosterer and not the rescue itself, except that they should have made sure that the piggies were health checked again before rehoming, especially if they had been in rescue for some time.

PS: Did your vet check just the front teeth or the back teeth, too? Most overgrown front teeth are caused by overgrown premolars. Guinea pigs don't need chewing toys with healthy teeth.
They need to eat up to 80% of the daily food intake as hay to keep the crucial back teeth ground down evenly; only about 10-15% of the daily food intake should be vegetables and 5-10 pellets. The front teeth should be self- sharpening in a healthy mouth and not need any treatment at all.

A low vegetable diet is actually recommended.
It sounds like the fosterer was neglectful with our late boar, and that we may have no other adoption route! I know they have a few foster homes, so there's a chance we can possibly be choosy. We do have a local 'Humane Society' that occasionally has guinea pigs, but I doubt they'll offer a "dating service" to find a match for our sow.

Assuming that this rescue is our only option, is there a list of questions we should ask before any dates for our healthy young sow? (Example: When was this potential partner's last check-up?) I want to be sure we aren't exposing her to anything harmful, because I'm skeptical on the quality of the fosterers now. I also don't want to partner her with a new friend who isn't well enough to live long with her. I'm not sure if avoiding this second one is possible.

My local vet checked front and back teeth just after adoption and a few weeks later in a follow-up. The vet we saw two days ago checked front and back teeth, and said everything looks great.

This is her diet:
24/7 access to Timothy hay and fresh water every day
1/2 C. veggies for breakfast
1/8 C. pellets for lunch*
1/2 C. veggies for dinner
Vitamin C supplement for dessert (25mg)
Occasional nibble of a safe fruit for a special treat (1x per week at most)

We use Oxbow Timothy hay-based everything for products. The supplements are even condensed Timothy hay from Oxbow's Natural Science product line. (I'm considering trying orchard hay to keep food interesting for her through this lonely time.)

*On this, everything I've read, 1/8 C. pellets is suggested. I reported this entire planned diet to the rescue, both vets, and approved each time. Is 1/8 C. pellets too much for a specific reason? I've never heard that 5-10 pellets is all we should be giving a guinea pig. Is 1/8 C. a common misconception? If you have any details here, I'd love to know! (If this influences the answer: she is between 8-10 months old right now, the rescue gave us two different ages in the same couple weeks, so we're honestly having to guess).
 

Parnassus

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No, it's not you at fault, it's them. It is good you sent the records though, they will hopefully learn a thing or two from it....
I hope someone can point you to a good rescue not too far from you.

It's great that chatting on the forum is helping you through this difficult situation, that's what we are all here for :) x

And thank you for that tip, I will be trying it on my shy little Oreo. She is warming up to me and likes to nose-sniff me through the bars and eat from my hands, but is scared of being touched, so I tend to respect her wishes, but if I can get her used to being touched without fear then that would be better, especially as I do need to pick her up on occasions to check her over and clip her nails :) x
Here's hoping! And if the vet did somehow miss something pre-existing, I'm sure the rescue should have known and warned us before adoption that there is something pre-existing we need to watch or take care of... :\ All our vet visits happened in the first month of adoption. Everything in this case still points to the fosterer being neglectful to me, but maybe I'm too close to the situation.

Thanks! I hope there's a less well-known rescue someone knows about that ensures quality of life in their foster homes and ensures that regular check-ups occur for every guinea pig while they're with the rescue. At the very least, simple full disclosure policies on the pet's health would be welcome at this point. :)

Best of luck with your Oreo! I hope the conditioning helps her learn to love your pets! Especially since it makes the nail trimming so much simpler. :)
 

Wiebke

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It sounds like the fosterer was neglectful with our late boar, and that we may have no other adoption route! I know they have a few foster homes, so there's a chance we can possibly be choosy. We do have a local 'Humane Society' that occasionally has guinea pigs, but I doubt they'll offer a "dating service" to find a match for our sow.

Assuming that this rescue is our only option, is there a list of questions we should ask before any dates for our healthy young sow? (Example: When was this potential partner's last check-up?) I want to be sure we aren't exposing her to anything harmful, because I'm skeptical on the quality of the fosterers now. I also don't want to partner her with a new friend who isn't well enough to live long with her. I'm not sure if avoiding this second one is possible.

My local vet checked front and back teeth just after adoption and a few weeks later in a follow-up. The vet we saw two days ago checked front and back teeth, and said everything looks great.

This is her diet:
24/7 access to Timothy hay and fresh water every day
1/2 C. veggies for breakfast
1/8 C. pellets for lunch*
1/2 C. veggies for dinner
Vitamin C supplement for dessert (25mg)
Occasional nibble of a safe fruit for a special treat (1x per week at most)

We use Oxbow Timothy hay-based everything for products. The supplements are even condensed Timothy hay from Oxbow's Natural Science product line. (I'm considering trying orchard hay to keep food interesting for her through this lonely time.)

*On this, everything I've read, 1/8 C. pellets is suggested. I reported this entire planned diet to the rescue, both vets, and approved each time. Is 1/8 C. pellets too much for a specific reason? I've never heard that 5-10 pellets is all we should be giving a guinea pig. Is 1/8 C. a common misconception? If you have any details here, I'd love to know! (If this influences the answer: she is between 8-10 months old right now, the rescue gave us two different ages in the same couple weeks, so we're honestly having to guess).
Her diet sounds fine. How many many pellets you give depends on the age of your guinea pigs. As they grow and mature, they will need only about half or a quarter of the amount that they need as fast growing youngsters. Here in Britain, we don't use cups, but give weights. The adult amount of pellets is about 10-20g (ca. half an ounce or roughly half to a handful of pellets per piggy per day).
The Importance Of Weighing - Ideal Weight / Overweight / Underweight

I have never come across "two kinds of ear infection". Did your vet mean an outer and middle ear infection? Middle and inner ear infections usually manifest with a sudden head tilt, which can remain permanent if not treated promptly; in the case of an inner ear infection it is usually also accompanied by balance issues or going in circles. An outer ear infection can manifest as head shaking, ear pawing and/or effluence. Acute ear infections usually come on very quickly. Were your piggies exposed to a full A/C during transport or in your home? I know that is an unusually hot year on the West Coast because of El Nino this year. Old ear infections can flare up if they have been undertreated and the immune system is lowered like from a move to a new home, which your boy seems to have taken rather badly.

How new guinea pigs react in new surroundings often depends on what traumas they have undergone in their pre-rescue life. They can go back to instinctive prey animal behaviour at first. They generally come round much more quickly if they have received kind handling at the rescue and it doesn't take months to bring them out second time round.

I am very sorry about the blockage/fluid bloat. This is not something you can prevent. Most (thankfully rare) cases are sadly fatal. It takes a specialist exotics clinic and a very, very good vet to be in with even a small chance.
 

madguinealady

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Is there anyone higher in the rescue that you can discuss this withThey won't want their name tarnished by a bad fosterer or piggies in bad hands.Even if the fosterer just needs reeducating it may save piggies lives.Good luck finding a friend for your furry baby.Does she have a soft toy to cuddle?
 

Parnassus

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Her diet sounds fine. How many many pellets you give depends on the age of your guinea pigs. As they grow and mature, they will need only about half or a quarter of the amount that they need as fast growing youngsters. Here in Britain, we don't use cups, but give weights. The adult amount of pellets is about 10-20g (ca. half an ounce or roughly half to a handful of pellets per piggy per day).
The Importance Of Weighing - Ideal Weight / Overweight / Underweight

I have never come across "two kinds of ear infection". Did your vet mean an outer and middle ear infection? Middle and inner ear infections usually manifest with a sudden head tilt, which can remain permanent if not treated promptly; in the case of an inner ear infection it is usually also accompanied by balance issues or going in circles. An outer ear infection can manifest as head shaking, ear pawing and/or effluence. Acute ear infections usually come on very quickly. Were your piggies exposed to a full A/C during transport or in your home? I know that is an unusually hot year on the West Coast because of El Nino this year. Old ear infections can flare up if they have been undertreated and the immune system is lowered like from a move to a new home, which your boy seems to have taken rather badly.

How new guinea pigs react in new surroundings often depends on what traumas they have undergone in their pre-rescue life. They can go back to instinctive prey animal behaviour at first. They generally come round much more quickly if they have received kind handling at the rescue and it doesn't take months to bring them out second time round.

I am very sorry about the blockage/fluid bloat. This is not something you can prevent. Most (thankfully rare) cases are sadly fatal. It takes a specialist exotics clinic and a very, very good vet to be in with even a small chance.
Interesting, I've never heard that before, re: decreasing pellet amounts over time. I'll be sure to ask about that on our next vet trip. She's still growing, that's for sure! Strong and steady.

To clarify, he had one infection in each ear, but each was caused by a different type of bacteria. The day we brought him home, there was no head tilting or circling, he just scratched at his ears a bit. At the check-up a couple days later, the vet knew by seeing the ears that he had infections in both, so she took earwax samples from each and tested them in the lab during the appointment, so we could be sure to start on a treatment plan that day. That's how we verified it's bacterial and discovered each ear was suffering from a different type of bacteria.

When we adopted them, the weather hadn't warmed up yet, so the trip home wasn't uncomfortable, and we had A/C most of the way anyway. Our house was definitely temperate as well.

In terms of his coming around, he never quite came around for us. The best we could do before he passed was a slow stroke from the nose to the mid-back before he got nervous. And that was after three months of daily reinforcement multiple times per day. But to us, this was a promising improvement. Positive interactions with hands + food + pets + patience over and over again.

Thank you, it still feels like a dark cloud is hanging over our house. The added stress over the rescue problem has not helped at all. We just want to look forward and help our girl, but we're stalled. I appreciate all the support I've found on here already. It's been so helpful.
 

Parnassus

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Is there anyone higher in the rescue that you can discuss this withThey won't want their name tarnished by a bad fosterer or piggies in bad hands.Even if the fosterer just needs reeducating it may save piggies lives.Good luck finding a friend for your furry baby.Does she have a soft toy to cuddle?
There's nobody higher. And I still haven't heard back, I sent everything they asked of me two days ago, but I'm still waiting with no other options. One of the first things we did was pick up a stuffed toy from the baby aisle and she cuddles it every day! Thanks for the well wishes. :)
 

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I hope that you can find a new friend for your girl.

Thank you for clearing up some points. I try to be as fair as possible before I make any judgements. As there haven't been any major signs of an acute ear infection, it is easy to miss it when giving a cursory check, but there has obviously not been a full vet check before rehoming.

I have some pretty traumatised rescue piggies myself; it takes a long time to bring them round, but you seem to have been on the way with your boy. it is however very rewarding when you finally know that you have won their trust, as it is such a special thing.

Portland rescue are currently extremely busy dealing with an intake of over 90 piggies in very bad state from a hoarder; a number of who are pregnant (and some have already had babies in at risk births) and some are very ill and have needed/are still needing major medical care and operations. You can follow that on their facebook page. The enormous stress and strain of their resources they are currently under may explain some of their reactions and the delay in answering.
 

Parnassus

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I hope that you can find a new friend for your girl.

Thank you for clearing up some points. I try to be as fair as possible before I make any judgements. As there haven't been any major signs of an acute ear infection, it is easy to miss it when giving a cursory check, but there has obviously not been a full vet check before rehoming.

I have some pretty traumatised rescue piggies myself; it takes a long time to bring them round, but you seem to have been on the way with your boy. it is however very rewarding when you finally know that you have won their trust, as it is such a special thing.

Portland rescue are currently extremely busy dealing with an intake of over 90 piggies in very bad state from a hoarder; a number of who are pregnant (and some have already had babies in at risk births) and some are very ill and have needed/are still needing major medical care and operations. You can follow that on their facebook page. The enormous stress and strain of their resources they are currently under may explain some of their reactions and the delay in answering.
Trying to be fair and reserve judgments is always a good plan. :) He did have signs of the infection on the outer ear, so a cursory glance (just lifting up the ear) would have made an infection obvious. :( That hoarder situation is good to keep in mind, because that sounds incredibly stressful for them! I'm sure they're not having an easy time and our problems are likely not top priority since our piggy is at least safe and healthy. It isn't an excuse for poor behavior, but it helps to explain things a bit. Thank you!

Every step forward with him felt very special, that's exactly it. Good luck with your special rescues! :)
 
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