November 27th, 2015

planet

Ferdinand

Ferdinand, the guinea pig we adopted from the humane society three years ago, is not doing so well.

We hurt him. It's such an awful story I didn't want to type it because I felt terrible about it. It started when we took him to Blessing of the Animals at church. It's this annual service we have where everyone brings their pets and it's so wonderful! There's a part of the service where you can take your pet up front for a blessing so I let Josie, age 5, carry him. I stayed REALLY close - I was paranoid, usually you don't do too much mixing of small kids with small pets because they can be dropped, stepped on, held too hard, etc. But she was doing awesome. She carried him up to the front, then we were walking back, then I felt like she was doing so great I didn't have to be right there with a hand on her, I could be like three feet away and not staring. And that's when he jumped out of her arms and fell to the hard floor. DAMMIT!

I've dropped a guinea pig before, I hurt Billy's leg once, but he got better. I felt terrible about it. Well even though Ferdinand was dropped from a much lower height he must have fallen wrong because he was hurt really bad. I scooped him up immediately and told all the people who saw it "look he's fine!" so THEY would all feel better - but I felt terrible.

And ferdinand was probably like "fuck your religion, assholes."

let's face it, I took him to show him off, I let my cute kid carry him because she's cute and I'm showing off everything, and he got hurt because of all that. I'm a terrible person. That's why this happened in October and I'm just now writing about it.

Ferdinand couldn't use his back legs at all. He was just army crawling around the pen. It was bad. This was Sunday, so on Monday we called the veterinarian. Our normal vet was booked but another one had an opening. I stayed home with the kids and marc went to the vet. I get this call from the marc. He says they want to x-ray ferdinand to see what's wrong. It's $230 for the xray.

Our other vet charges $80 so I was a bit taken aback by this, so was marc. He put me on the phone to talk with the vet. I asked what she was trying to diagnose with this xray - ferdinand is a guinea pig and there's not much we can do. She started saying how they'd be able to tell if surgery would fix it and I said "Okay STOP. There will be no surgery on the guinea pig." She explained that their xrays might sound expensive but they are looked at by a professional radiologist and it'll really help.

See again - my last vet was much more understanding, he'd lay out the options but say "But, you know, it's a guinea pig." I realize they are living creatures, and pets, and therefore I am prepared for some vet bills that are more than the $15 replacement cost of a guinea pig. But I will not spend thousands. I kept saying "what will this CHANGE, what course of action will you take based on the various things you could learn from this xray?" and there was no great answer, she just kept saying "We'll know what's wrong!"

I was frustrated but in the end I paid for the xray because this whole thing was my fault and I felt terrible and wanted my guilt to go away.

The xray showed nothing wrong. The vet said nothing looked broken, no spinal damage, maybe he'll magically get better.

So they sent him home with pain meds, just like what they would have done if we didn't get the xray.

Well it's been a month and he's not getting better. He still army crawls around the cage.

We had some friends over, they said you know you really can't tell, it looks like he's just lounging around and that's pretty much what guinea pigs do anyway. You know you shouldn't feel so bad, it's not like he was training for the tour de france and you ruined his dreams, he's a guinea pig. He sleeps and eats - just like he did before. He's just paralyzed now.

But Marc found him on his back yesterday, he couldn't roll himself over, he said it almost looked like he was twitching. We gave him more pain medicine. He gets really dirty from laying around in crap all day but cleaning stresses them out so I don't want to bathe him much.

I wonder if we should just have this guinea pig euthanized, or maybe that's what we should have done in the first place. He's eating well which is a sign that he's happy but how do we really know what's going on?

There are three reasons I say no to surgery on guinea pigs: first the expense. second they have a 5-8 year lifespan, Ferdinand is probably 4-5 years old so how much longer will he live anyway? third I just don't think it's nice to put a small creature through the recovery of a major medical procedure just to make ourselves feel better.

but I don't feel good about the decision to kill him either. I don't know how to tell with this. It's just not good.