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One Piggie Passed Away - Will The Second Be Okay?

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Mayski

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My darling Gus (he was only 3) passed away on Sunday night. It was from a very bad case of bloat – at least that’s what the vet said. It started in December, when he stopped eating, drinking and pooping but was still fairly active and alert. It took 5 trips to the vet and lots and lots of syringe feeding, antibiotics, massages and cuddles to get him back to normal, but after a couple of weeks he was back to his fat happy self again.

Unfortunately last weekend I woke up to find him lying on his side and his underbelly was drenched in urine/faeces. He’d been completely fine the day before, still eating and drinking happily, if a little lethargic towards the end of the night, but seeing him like that was a shock. I rushed him to the vet and they said the bloat was back and his stomach had completely stopped working. Gave him injections to restart it and me antibiotics with instructions to syringe feed him and bring him back in 24 hours if he wasn’t better. Unfortunately my poor Gus didn’t last 24 hours – exactly 9 hours after our trip to the vet Gus passed away in my arms, after a horrific day of fits and seizures.

I’m devastated. He was my first pet and we had a really strong bond. I’m 23 years old and I’ve been turning up to work in tears since Sunday. I loved him and miss him terribly – but also, those few hours where I had to hold him while he lay on his side convulsing, water leaking from his eyes (was he crying? Please tell me he wasn't crying) while I rocked him and told him everything would be okay, just keep haunting me. I’ve never watched anything die before – let alone a creature I loved so, so deeply. I can’t get the image of him taking his last breath out of my head.

I’m sorry – this isn’t the point of this thread, I just don’t know who else to talk to. People don’t really seem to understand and think I’m being a bit melodramatic.

I have another piggy, Denzel, who at the moment is okay. They didn’t share a cage – I separated them about two years ago when they started fighting, but their two cages were always right next to each other. Now that Gus is gone, I’m worried that it’ll negatively affect Denzel. Apart from the odd moment when I’ll catch him sitting in the corner of his cage that used to be closest to Gus’s cage looking thoroughly confused (can guinea pigs look confused? Perhaps it’s in my head) he is still happily active and wheeking and eating. I just read so much about piggies who die of heartbreak after their companions leave them and I’m worried the same will happen to Denzel.

I’m not at all ready to get another piggy so getting him some company just isn’t an option. Just the thought of another little man in Gus’s place makes me heartsick. I have been giving him plenty of love and cuddles since Gus left us – I just wanted to check if there was anything else I could do.

Would be grateful for any advice. Thanks all.


xx
 

Wiebke

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Hi and welcome!

I am very sorry for your loss. Several of us have lost guinea pigs to bloat or blockage, including myself; it is one of the most awful things to happen to a guinea pig and it is truly frightening to witness how quickly and unexpectedly it can hit and develop! :(
You are most welcome to post a tribute to Gus in our Rainbow Bridge section anytime it feels right for you.

Poor Denzel is missing Gus and his company; even when they are not in the same pen, they rely on the interaction for stimulation. He knows that Gus has been very ill, but not what has happened to him. :(

Unfortunately, humans and guinea pigs grieve at different speeds, but they do not grieve less deeply. Right now, you are still too upset and raw and Denzel, too, needs some days to get over his own loss, but in the medium to long term, he really depends on regular piggy company and stimulation.

Perhaps you could consider taking your guinea pig journey in a completely different direction so it fills Denzel's need for companionship but doesn't feel so much like a replacement of Gus for you? Would you think of looking for a pair of rescue sows as next door neighbours for Denzel? Unfortunately, spayed sows are about as rare as gold, as the much more invasive and expensive operation is usually only performed for medical reasons, and there are now alternative treatments available.
There will never be a guinea pig like Gus! He was unique and he will always hold a very special place in your affections; the first piggy is always extra special! Each bond you make is different and ties into its very own unique place in your heart. As you are a very good and loving piggy mummy, you feel of course rather conflicted at this point, especially after the huge shock of how quickly poor Gus has gone. But you may also find that the joy that a new arrival brings to Denzel and is giving him his own sparkle back will help you to focus on your own grieving process for Gus without feeling guilty about Denzel. Just don't try to force yourself to bond with any new piggies while you are not yet ready yourself. That will happen on its own in its own time - and it is bound to be a very different bond to what you shared with Gus.

It also may help you with your own grieving to create a little legacy in memory of Gus. I found that it helped me a lot sponsoring a residential rescue guinea pig in memory of a beloved piggy of mine on several occasions (either because they shared a name or were vaguely similar looking). But there are lots of other ways you can set a sign.

Here are our tips for bereaved guinea pigs: https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/looking-after-a-bereaved-piggy.110463/
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/guinea-pig-toys.43520/
https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/pages/guinea-pig-rescue-locator/ (UK rescues, but we can provide contacts for good rescues in other countries, too)

PS: As were have members from all over the world, we find it very helpful if you please added your country, state or (for the UK) your county or city so we can give you the best possible advice at all times. Please click on your username on the top bar, then go to personal details and scroll down to location.
 

LukeStanforth

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Mayski I'm really sorry you lost Gus I'm afraid I don't no much to answer any of your questions but I have found people on this forum incredibly helpful.

But I would say don't feel melodramatic your grieving for a big loss unless you keep GP you can't understand the bond and responsibility.
 

Wiebke

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And please don't feel like your grieving or your reaction to Gus' passing is overdone! We grieve to the extent that we love; it doesn't matter what species, it matters how close a bond you have had. We have all on here had similar experiences, as far as we have lost piggies of ours, so you are in good company.

If you find however that your grieving is interfering with your ability to sleep or cope with your daily life for any length of time, please contact one of the free numbers in the link below to speak about your feelings with somebody who has had sepcific training. Pet bereavement is an acknowledged problem that can affect anybody, so there is no stigma attached to it.
http://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/bereavement_pets.php
 

Moo

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So sorry to hear about Gus, you are being very brave as this is an incredibly difficult time for you and Denzel. You should take as long as you need to grieve and never feel guilty about it, it takes as long as it takes. I found speaking to the forum members helped me more than anything else as they all understand the love we share for our piggies.
 

Freela

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I'm so sorry for your loss... that sounds terrible to go through. My 6-year-old pig, Linney, passed away a few weeks ago, also fairly unexpectedly after less than a day of illness and also in my arms. I still catch myself thinking about it and getting upset at times, and I miss her quite a bit. She was the only pig left from my original pair and she was a wonderful buddy to the kids and I over the years, and actually feeling an animal I love pass in my arms is a hard memory to live with, although I'm still glad I was able to be there for her. All that I mean to say is that I totally understand the grief and trauma and feel for you- you won't run into any judgment here about that!

If you're not ready to get another pig right now, giving Denzel extra love and cuddles is the best thing you can do. Since they didn't actually share a living space, he may not feel the loss as acutely as some other pigs. In the long run, he would probably be happier with company, but so long as he is eating and drinking and carrying on relatively normally, you have some time to sort out your own feelings.

My own experience is that so far I've twice had half of a bonded pair pass away. My first two pigs were Linney and Frenzy. Sadly, around 18 months Frenzy developed a facial abscess that spread to her jawbone and she passed away from sepsis, even though we tried as best we could to help her beat it (I found out later that the vet we were using at the time was probably out-of-date in his methods, which still bothers me to this day.) After she passed, I was really concerned about the effect on Linney, although she seemed to deal fairly well. But nonetheless we went out an got a companion pig within a few days because I wanted to be sure to have a quarantine period before introductions. I confess, at the time I wasn't too thrilled with the new pig (Sundae.) I really wasn't ready to love a pig that wasn't Frenzy. However, she and Linney got along well, and as I got to know her, of course I fell in love with her as an individual in her own right. We had Linney and Sundae as a pair for 4.5 years, until last month when Linney passed away at the age of 6. Sundae... didn't take it very well. She has always been 'anxious' in her personality, and she clearly didn't like being alone. She kept wheeking to try to get us to come over and see her- not a behavior she had ever shown before. She was restlessly active and wouldn't settle, she ate less, and she was clearly distressed alone, so in her case we knew right away that she would do better with company. So again, although I grieved Linney's loss really hard because she was always my favorite and I was very close to her, we went out to find a companion for Sundae. We ended up coming home with Hadley (my avatar pic is from her first day home.) She is beautiful pig, but I didn't really feel anything for her at first. However, we've had her about 2.5 weeks now, and she is making her own way into my heart. We introduced her and Sundae last week and it went really well- Sundae is back to eating and being more settled and obviously much happier, so I'm glad we could give her that. And Hadley is settling in really well and we are getting to know each other. She'll never replace Linney, just like Sundae never replaced Frenzy, but I love her more as I get a change to get to know her.
 
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