New Born Pup
- Jan 21, 2021
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Hello. This is gonna be a long post, I'm sorry for that. I hope someone can bring me some peace. I have a lot of guilt about a guinea pig that my sister had, 7 years ago. His name was Sid. We live in Norway. She really loved him and I know she took decent good care of him. But he was alone too often. She was in high school, and I think her schedule was busy in periods of his life. I fear he was lonely. However, he was always talking (squeaking for attention) and acting normal, eating his food and being curious when someone entered the room. So I hope and think that he was content and happy most of the time, even though he lived alone.
My question is if someone can tell me that his life was good enough, by reading this post. I know it wasn't great, since he was alone. But I need someone to tell me it wasn't terrible either. That it was good enough. That he might have been content and sometimes very happy. Please read further.
He lived in his cage in a room in the basement, a proper room, not like a dark cold basement. We had rabbits who had their cages next to him, so I guess he always knew he wasn't alone in the room. His cage wasn't huge, but it wasn't tiny either. I think it would have been "accepted" as a cage as long as he got enough floor time. But I know he didn't. But still, the cage could have been a lot smaller, so it wasn't terrible. This room was not the room with the most traffic, since it was in the basement, so I guess there could be hours in between each time someone came in. But he always got attention in the morning and the afternoon and evening, for his feeding time. And my sister was strict about cleaning cages, so I guess his cage was always cleaned once a week. And often there would be people walking by during the day too, our parents probably talked to him when they walked by.
I remember him being out in the grass in the summer, not every day, but I can remember that my sister had him outside whenever we had the rabbits outside, in the summer holiday. In separate pens of course. I actually can't remember when she bought him, so I don't know how long she had him for. I lived out of town for most of his life. I remember that I would pet him and hold him occasionally when I was home, and that all of the pets would be out in the grass. Sid too.
I have no idea how much attention he got when I lived out of town. My mom says he was well taken care of, but I have a feeling he might have been alone a lot. That some days the only attention he got was when being fed, in the morning and evening. Maybe my dad would pet him whenever he walked by, as he walked past him to get to the garage where he often spent time fixing stuff. My mom says that they all cuddled him regularly, but I'm afraid it might have been too long in between still. I guess it was more often some days. And my sister has told me that she did spend time with him regularly, not every day, but it must have been often enough to keep him content, or else he would probably have stopped eating and definitely stopped talking and squeaking? He did all of this until the very end.
Was this enough? Should I feel terrible for not making my sister spend more time with him? As I said, I really can't remember how much time she did spend with him. It might have been enough, it might have been more than I know of. But it might also have been too little in some periods. Maybe it was more than enough in the beginning and then too little towards the end. I suspect that it was not perfect, and not very good, but hopefully it was good enough. Maybe in some periods the only attention he got was when she gave him food twice a day, and then maybe he was out of his cage once a week when she cleaned it. And maybe he got extra cuddles some days during the week, or maybe it was less in some periods. I don't know. But I think it was something like that.
He "spoke" every day, I think. I think he must have done that, because I moved back home a couple of months before he passed away, and I can remember hearing him often. And that was after he had lived like this for at least a year, so I'm assuming this is proof that he wasn't feeling neglected, that he was content with his life?
I even remember him "calling for attention" on his last day alive. So he must have been happy and content up until the last day. He had also eaten his food that last day, I think. I vaguely remember telling the Vet that he had eaten like normal (I was the one to take him to the Vet when he passed). This is proof that he wasn't feeling neglected, isn't it? He would have stopped eating eventually if he was depressed and not happy with his life?
Then the end came. He must have had a hidden illness towards the end. I had lived away from home for about 2 years, as I wrote earlier. A few months after I moved back home, there was one day when my sister was at school, and I found Sid collapsed in his cage, and it was like all of a sudden he was very thin. I know he must have gotten thin over time, but I swear he must have lost the majority of the weight the last few days. He had been eating his food like normal, even that last day. I'm sure of this, because I remember it being a conversation. That there were "no signs" except for his weight. And he was talking too, like normal, in the morning, if I remember correctly. So he must have been in that state for a couple of hours, maximum. My dad said he had been normal when he walked by the cage right before I found him. He had been working on something in the garage, and walked by the cage on his way there. So maybe he had just collapsed when I got in the room. Maybe he had been feeling strange for a bit and then collapsed. I don't think he was in pain earlier that day, I'm sure my sister would have noticed if he didn't eat before she went to school.
Me and my dad immediately rushed him to the vet then, where the vet put him to sleep, because he was not gonna make it. I held him the whole way there. The vet said something about an illness that had made it impossible for his body to take up the nutrients from the food. I also remember feeling ashamed for not bringing him earlier, since he was so skinny. I had the feeling of being judged, like this shouldn't have happened to him. I can't remember anything else. But he must have lost his weight in a very short time, and he showed no other symptoms.
Even though he wasn't my guinea pig, I still lived there for a while when he was there, and I do feel responsible for how his life ended. We should have noticed his weight sooner. I should have paid more attention, in case my sister missed something. She was in high school and could have been stressed with exams and so on. Maybe she overlooked something. I was the big sister, I should have looked after her pets too. But I trusted her to take care of them, she had always given her pets everything they needed, except the ideal amount of excercice and playtime. But I really don't think he showed any symptoms but the weight. He was always so happy and social, until the very last day. I'm torn apart when I think of that happy little guy and feeling like we failed him. He wasn't old either, he must have been 2 or 3, depending on how old he was when she got him.
What could the illness have been? Even if she/we did notice it sooner, he might not have made it either way, depending on the illness. But the chance that he could have survived, it haunts me. I find comfort in the fact that I held him the whole way to the vet, in my lap. Even though he wasn't as close to me as to my sister, I assume he felt safe in my arms either way. And I hope he didn't feel like we betrayed him in the end.
We buried him in my parents' garden. I had terrible guilt over it a few months later, and then I managed to move on with my life, and now, 6 years later, the thoughts are back.
Did he have a good life? Was it good enough?
He lived alone, but he was always curious and "awake", and would always come to the door of the cage when someone walked by. He was squeaking regularly, I guess every day. He was eating his food. Is this proof that he might have been content with his life?
If he was very lonely and depressed, would he not stop eating, and stop "talking", and wouldn't he rather hide away than be curious and social?
I can't remember the day to day details, but I have a feeling that he always seemed content. I think if he was depressed and his life seemed terrible at the time, I would have seen that back then. I must have noticed it if this was the case! All I can remember is that he was so friendly and seemingly social, and it breaks my heart that his life wasn't as good as I wish it was. He deserved so much more! I feel so terrible for not realising it back then! But my sister must have spent enough time with him, or else I guess I would have noticed when I moved back home.. And he would have become depressed. I can't remember any signs of him being depressed.
Is it really possible that he was content? That even though his life was boring, it wasn't bad? He could have been content when he was alone, and then super happy when he got cuddles and attention time? And the time in his cage was spent relaxing and feeling safe? Or did he spend his time feeling betrayed and unloved, all those hours and days where he didn't get attention? I really want to believe that he could have been content and that his life was okay.
I hope someone can help me come to peace with this. I hope his life was good enough. And that we didn't betray him when he got sick.