It’s been a traumatic few days. A few nights ago, I noticed that Teemu had been picking at his food and I was a little concerned. He had been like this before, but bounced right back. However, this time, it was a bit unusual and I realized the next day that he was not eating at all. He was also having some irregular breathing.
That day, I remember feeling guilty that I had not been spending enough time with little Teemu. It seemed like most of my attention was going to Francis, his little (big) brother of a dog who was always seeking attention (and always going on walks and who always got to be pet first). That day, I took Teemu out of his cage and held him in my lap and petted him. He looked so sad and old, but he was enjoying my company. I also noticed that he kept shifting his little body around every once in a while to get comfortable.
I looked online for local veterinarians that examine guinea pigs and also looked to see if there were other guinea pig owners who had noticed similar symptoms in their guinea pigs. I was a little alarmed with some of the information that I read and decided that I should take Teemu to the vet. Although it was outside of office hours, B.B. and I contacted the vet and proceeded to the clinic.
I put Teemu on a towel and put him in a shallow box. He was really uncomfortable and scared, and he tried to get out (the car was bouncing him in the box). So I put him on the towel and in my lap. He seemed a little happier when I did that. I petted him all of the way to the vet. At one point, I got distracted and stopped petting him for a minute, which caused Teemu to lift his head and look at me as if to say, “Hey, no one told you to stop!” Such a bossy guinea! I continued petting him. He didn’t look well, but he seemed content.
We got to the clinic and met with the on-call vet. We filled out some paperwork and then the vet took Teemu to the back. She noted that Teemu was having trouble breathing and that he also needed his back teeth trimmed. We went over costs (it was going to be expensive) and B.B. asked some other questions, including worst case scenario circumstances (answers involved getting back the body, cremation, or disposal by the vet). The vet thought that Teemu was alert and was not lying on his side, which were both good signs. She told us that she thought that he was going to make it, but she was going to have to keep him overnight to hand-feed him and give him fluids (he was a bit dehydrated).
I felt relieved and B.B. and I decided to go out for dinner. When we got to the restaurant 20 minutes later (ironically, we parked in front of a different vet clinic which was next to the restaurant) my phone rang. It was the vet. She was sorry to report that Teemu did not make it. I guess she was trying to feed him and he became stressed and just died. I was in a bit of shock and passed the phone over to B.B. who talked to the vet for the remainder of the call. We were both surprised that it happened so quickly. We thought that Teemu looked a bit worse for wear, but not so bad that we thought that he was at death’s door.
I was so sad and shocked (B.B. was too). It also made me sad (still makes me sad) to think that Teemu’s last few minutes were spent scared and with a stranger. I also felt like I let him down and maybe I could have done more. I was also upset because I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye. We just left him at the clinic thinking that he was going to be ok.
I’m wondering if he tried to tell us earlier that he wasn’t feeling well. In retrospect, I remember thinking that it was odd that he was softly ringing the bell after I put his blanket over his cage for the night (I did that every night to block out the light). Usually he would give the bell several angry rings when he wasn’t getting the vegetables that he demanded at breakfast time and at dinner (or if he knew that Francis was getting a treat and he wasn’t); he only resorted to ringing the bell if chewing on the bars didn’t get him what he wanted (I’m kind of wondering if that is part of the reason for his teeth problems). B.B. who stayed up a little later than me, also noticed him softly ringing the bell every once in a while during the night. It was a bit unusual. I wished that I had paid more attention (I thought he was just being bossy and wanting food).
I recently read the Rainbow Bridge poem. It is supposed to give you closure, I guess, but it just made me sad. http://www.petloss.com/rainbowbridge.htm