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My Love-Pig

Truman hasn’t improved, so the vet moved up his follow-up appointment.  He has been eating double the amount he eats on any given day, but he has lost weight.  His legs are still paralyzed.  His eyes are crusty because he can’t clean his face; doing so would mean balancing on his hind legs to use his front paws, and he can’t do that at the moment.

When she saw him, she gently told me that we should consider euthanasia.  This was my greatest fear; not just losing him but having to make the decision to lose him.  It was one thing when it was Cozy and his eyes were outside his skull — he was clearly in pain.  But Truman is still himself, albeit dragging his legs and very thin.

The other option was to go and see another vet for a second opinion.  I didn’t know if I wanted to go down that road simply because I know myself.  If that vet didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, I would start going to another and another and another.  But our vet gently told me that the person she was recommending was a guinea pig specialist, and if she said that it was cancer, it was cancer.

So I took Truman to the second vet.  The vet was busy but was willing to squeeze him in between appointments as a favour for our vet.  But it meant leaving him there for a few hours so she could slip him in whenever she had time.  It meant going home and sitting in our quiet house, totally alone, worrying that I’d never see him again.

The other vet called in the late afternoon to go over options with me.  Without doing many more tests, she didn’t know what was wrong with Truman.  It could be his enlarged heart, it could be a clot, it could be a disc injury, an infection, cancer.  What did we want to do?  Did we want to be super aggressive, possibly losing him in trying to figure out how to help him?  Did we want to euthanize him since it was very unlikely he would ever move again.  She agreed that he was still his spunky self, and she admitted that she had never seen a guinea pig with a better personality.  (At our normal vet, all the techs came out to give him a head scratch before we left, and Truman lapped up all the massages and purred with his eyes closed in bliss.  He is such a love-pig.)  We didn’t have to decide to euthanize today, but we needed to know what we were willing to do.

She asked me to consider any possible regrets.  She wanted me to make a decision that helped me stave off any what ifs.

But here’s the thing; there is no amount anyone could ever do that would feel like “enough.”  I would always second-guess if there was a step we could have done at some point; something that would make the difference.  There was nothing she was going to do right now that would stop that from happening.

Euthanasia is meant to be a good death.  If it has to happen, then I want him to be home for his remaining time.  I want him to be eating as many cookies as he wants, and getting back rubs and tons of hay and long leaves of lettuce.  I want him to spend whatever remaining days he has left knowing without a doubt that we love him so much.  That he is an integral part of our family, and we will do whatever we need to do to make him comfortable and safe and cared for.  I don’t want him to be scared or alone or in pain or in an unfamiliar place.

So we brought him home.  The second vet prescribed a pain medication and told us what to look out for so we would know when it was time to bring him back.  This could go on for days or weeks or maybe months.

When we got home, I gave him dinner and his medications.  And then we gave him a bath.  He swam around the bathtub, doing laps, his legs trailing behind him.  It was the first time in days that he has moved around.  Afterward I swaddled him and then blew his fur dry with a hairdryer.

He is currently next to me, chowing down on his pellets in between hopefully nosing his purple food dish to check if I’ve magically slipped in something delicious.  In other words, he is himself.

I don’t know how much more I’ll write about Truman, though I’ll post an update from time to time.  It is really hard to talk about him now.


My sweet piggy boy


1 Charlotte { 07.17.16 at 8:14 am }

As a former Guinea pig owner, I can’t even imagine a Guinea Pig who has so much personality that is so un-Guinea pig like. I mean, Truman SWIMS!?!?
He is truly thriving on your love and care, and doesn’t sound like he is in too much pain if he’s eating and wheeking and checking out his food dish for yummy treats. I think you will know when the time comes that he is suffering, but for now I don’t think that’s the case and think you should just keep doing what you are doing. I am sorry that it is so hard for you to talk about him. I am really glad you shared with us about him today. Big hugs for you and head scratches for Truman.

2 Beth { 07.17.16 at 8:49 am }

Oh, Mel. I’m so sorry. Just love him and scratch him. Thank you for sharing.

3 Candice { 07.17.16 at 9:17 am }

Thinking of you. I’ve been following your Truman updates and hoping he gets better. It’s so hard to watch a loved one decline and have to make tough decisions. I’ve always identified 3 quality of life factors for animals (eating, snuggles, sleeping for example), when 2/3 are gone, it’s time. He does sound so special, loved the image of him swimming. Hang in there.

4 Cristy { 07.17.16 at 9:21 am }

My heart breaks from this news. I’m so sorry Mel.

Be with Truman. Keep loving him the way you do because he is himself because of you and your family. Don’t worry about making this looming decision. And echoing Charlotte about sharing him with all of us.

5 Raven { 07.17.16 at 9:41 am }

I am so so sorry to hear this. I have been watching and hoping his situation would change. Its so painful to lose a loved one – we had this experience with our beloved cat two years ago and it was awful. Take care of yourself during this time.

6 Cassie Dash { 07.17.16 at 10:21 am }

Oh, Mel, I’m really sorry to hear this. Poor Truman. And you! But it’s clear to me how loved he is and that he will unequivocally know it for all the days of his life. Sending you love and him a little head-scratch. xo

7 Jen@FrugalSteppingStones { 07.17.16 at 10:42 am }

Poor little guy. It’s hard to see our furry children in pain. I have had to put down two of my cats who were just full of cancer, and it was difficult to do, though I am glad I was there til the end.

8 Delenn { 07.17.16 at 10:55 am }

You are an awesome pet mama! Truman will be happy and loved for however long he has…and that is so wonderful. ((Hugs))

9 Working mom of 2 { 07.17.16 at 10:56 am }

I am so sorry. It’s hard. I had to put down four cats over four years in the first half of this decade, each of which I’d had from 17 to 21 years, due to end stage kidney disease. So very hard but at least with that disease likely an easier decision than with others.


10 April { 07.17.16 at 11:04 am }

I’m so sorry Mel. Hugs for you and for Truman.

11 SuzannaCatherine { 07.17.16 at 12:14 pm }

As others have said, thanks so much for sharing Truman’s news with us. Also, I believe he is thriving because of the love and care you have always given him. Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers and sending Truman head pats and scratches.

12 Sharon { 07.17.16 at 1:10 pm }

I’m sorry. Such a tough position to be in and a hard decision to make. I hope Truman stays his happy self for as long as he can

13 Justine { 07.17.16 at 1:53 pm }

Oh, Mel. My heart aches for you. Truman knows, surely, how much you love him, and if he has to leave this world, he will leave it feeling very loved. Holding you both close, and abiding with you while you wait and face the unknown together. I love you.

14 Karen { 07.17.16 at 3:11 pm }

Thank you for sharing this with us; I hope you know that we all are holding Truman and you and Josh and the twins in our hearts. Hugs and love. xoxo

15 Mali { 07.17.16 at 4:11 pm }

I’m really sorry, Mel. These decisions are so hard, but we can only make them with love, as you are doing.

16 35jupiterdrive { 07.17.16 at 5:35 pm }

All the love to you & your family & Truman. He’s a very happy little guy, and that’s good. You’re giving him an amazing life. It’s all any of us can ask for.

17 a { 07.17.16 at 7:37 pm }

Awww – poor little guy. I wish you knew what was wrong with him, but I know that he is in the best hands he could possibly be. Good luck – hoping for a miracle for your little guy.

18 chris { 07.17.16 at 7:54 pm }

It sounds to me like you’re making the best possible decision out of a very tough situation. It’s what we were trying so hard to do with our beloved dog 4 years ago- she was diagnosed with leukemia and we left her at the vet to start chemo because we then wanted her to be home and loved. She had cardiac arrest the morning her chemo was to start. I will always regret that for her that she was alone without us.

19 katherinea12 { 07.17.16 at 9:44 pm }

I’m so sorry that this is happening. Your love and care for Truman come across so clearly (as always). Thanks for letting us know. Thinking of you, Truman, and your family during this time. It is so, so hard.

20 Queenie { 07.17.16 at 10:55 pm }

I’m so sorry. The space you are in right now with Truman is what keeps me from wanting another pet. Thinking of you all.

21 Jamie { 07.18.16 at 12:03 am }

I’m sorry your heart hurts for Truman. He sounds like a very special pet. He also sounds happy in your care. You will know what you need to know when you know it. One day at a time. Thank you for sharing Truman with us. Hugs for you, and head scratches for Truman.

22 Persnickety { 07.18.16 at 5:29 am }

I am sorry to hear about Truman. Hugs and ear scratches for Truman.

23 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.18.16 at 9:30 am }

Sending you the hugest hugs.

I’m abiding with you. May the swimming and cookie-munching continue. In the words of Charlotte, Truman is some pig.

24 Jess { 07.18.16 at 6:00 pm }

Oh, Mel. I’m so, so sorry. It is terrible to be put in the position to decide, when there isn’t a clear answer. When we had to euthanize our greyhound, he was clearly in a lot of pain and had all the signs of multiple organ failure, so it was a clear decision. With my cat, it wasn’t, and it was the hardest choice. I am holding you in my heart, I am picturing Truman purring and loving all the treats and adoration — there is no way that he doesn’t know what a lucky, lucky love-pig he is to be a part of your family. I wish that things went differently.

25 Middle Girl { 07.18.16 at 9:37 pm }

You all are doing all you can and Trumen definitely feels the love. Such a plucky pig. My thoughts are with you all.

26 Amanda { 07.18.16 at 11:02 pm }

My heart goes out to you. This is one the worst parts of owning a pet.
Sending him and you loves.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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