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Filling the Hole

We have started the process of adding another guinea pig to our family.  Before you say anything, it is early.  It is soon.  But I also know that I’m not the kind of person who can be without a pet.  In weighing out the mental health factors in taking time to mourn but being without a guinea pig vs. trying to mourn and care for a new pig at the same time, I’ve opted to go the latter route.

Is it the recommended option?  No.  Is it what I need to do?  Yes.

The woman who gave us Cozy and Truman retired in the fall.  I spent many hours Googling guinea pig breeders within a two hour drive and found only one.  I contacted various clubs in the area that involved animals, and I’m still waiting to hear back if they know about private breeders.  We drove to four different pet stores, but I couldn’t connect emotionally with any of the pigs.  Plus I felt squeamish getting a pig where the store knew nothing about its origins.  They couldn’t tell me age or breed.  Probably not a good sign.

There were a few older pigs in area rescues, but we don’t want an older pig.  We want a baby.  We want as much time as possible with the pig.  Plus all the rescues require you to adopt two pigs, and we only have room for one and have always kept pigs, one at a time.

During my third round of Googling, I found a woman about a half hour away who needs to rehome two infant guinea pigs.  She posted four pictures of the male twins, and my heart exploded.  One was spoken for according to the listing.  The other was available.

I wrote her and she wrote back immediately, admitting that there is a possible person in front of us.  They are on the fence and will decide next weekend.  If that placement falls through, we can bring the pig into our family.  I went to bed staring at his picture.  I woke up and alternated between thinking about Truman and this new pig.

It is hard not to be hopeful, but I keep reminding myself that this is — at best — a 50/50 chance.  Until he is in our family, he is not part of our family.

Part of me wishes that I hadn’t found this pig until the other person had made a decision.  Part of me feels relieved to experience something akin to love toward another pig, even if that pig doesn’t remain in my life.  It means it can happen.  It means we can find another pig who fits into our family, who fills the hole, the missing piece, with its own unique sweetness rather than trying to replace the irreplaceable Truman.

Because I’ve had this fear that my heart wouldn’t let another pig in.  It’s always the fear until it isn’t the fear; that idea that maybe our heart can’t bounce back.  Maybe it’s too broken and this is it.  Or maybe our heart will heal in the surface sense; we’ll be able to coo at other people’s pets even if we know that we won’t be bringing another pet into our own house.

The ChickieNob keeps telling me that our pig is out there.  Maybe it’s the infant pig that we saw in the listing (we’ll know between now and this Saturday).  Maybe it’s a completely different pig we don’t know about yet.  Either way, we’ve started the process.  We’re mourning and filling at the same time.


1 Beth { 01.24.17 at 7:50 am }

The ChickieNob is wise. Your pig is out there. Crossing my fingers, sending positive pig thoughts and prayers that your family finds him or her very soon.

My grandma always said that when a person was widowed and married again quickly, it was in fact a tribute and compliment to the spouse who was gone. They had loved being loved and married so much that they needed that feeling again as soon as possible. I believe the same is true of looking for a new pig while still mourning – you loved Truman so deeply that you want to feel that love again.

2 Middle Girl { 01.24.17 at 7:53 am }

Fate had us bringing a new dog into the home only a week after our Diva Dog was relieved of her suffering. I wouldn’t have scripted it that way but it has turned out great. I shall keep a hood thought for your welcoming your next pig soon.

3 Jodi { 01.24.17 at 8:38 am }

We got our new dog right after our old dog died in the weirdest way possible and it really did help us heal. And she is the best dog ever and like our soul mate dog. But that doesn’t mean we loved Foster any less.

4 Jenn P { 01.24.17 at 8:59 am }

I had a dream last night that my step sister gave me about 20 guinea pigs and I had no idea what to do (or why she gave them to me). I woke up as I was thinking about trying to get you to foster a few of them. Your pig is out there and maybe it is this one.

5 Peg { 01.24.17 at 9:06 am }

We had to put down our 10 year old beloved cat Oreo this summer. To say it was devastating to the whole family is an understatement. It was especially hard on our two youngest who really have never known a life without her. Liam cried every night for weeks. Kieran thought even thinking about a new cat was disloyal and disrespectful to Oreo. I secretly think he just wasn’t up to opening his heart again. But Aidan and Molly really pushed for another kitten because they are going to college soon and want to bond with a new pet. For about a month I checked local rescue groups (we only adopt black cats and wanted only one and a kitten so it was a bit hard) and daily I checked our local animal seltzer’s FB page. Then one day I found her, a picture of a 3 month old kitten and I knew she was ours. Despite statements of “we’re not getting a cat” from Kieran we when to meet her the next morning. I picked her up out of the cage, she collapsed into my arms purring and I burst into tears. She was meant to be in our family I firmly believe. Withing 24 hours, everyone including Kier agreed that she was the best cat ever. Liam still cries for Oreo every once in a while. He worries something will happen to Eevee. But oh how she has brought joy to our house. She’s curled up next to me while I write this. Nothing can take away our love for Oreo, but we certainly love our sweet Eevee just as much and can’t imagine our lives without her. Crossing my fingers for you guys but I know a new pig is waiting for your family. Love is love is love…no timetable to that.

6 Working mom of 2 { 01.24.17 at 9:51 am }

I hope it works out. I can’t go long without pets either. Hopefully you won’t have to patronize a breeder or pet store.

7 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.24.17 at 11:03 am }

I’m taking deep breaths as this unfolds.

8 Ana { 01.24.17 at 11:12 am }

I love what Beth said above about the tribute to the one who is gone, to want that remarkable love again. And I agree that your pig it out there. I hope either that this one works out, or you find your REAL pig soon.

9 Sharon { 01.24.17 at 11:52 am }

I understand. When I lost my first dog — I mean, my first dog who I acquired as an adult and thus belonged only to ME, vs. a family dog — I wanted to get another dog right away. Not because you can replace a beloved pet — you obviously can’t, any more than you could replace a family member — but because, like you, I didn’t like being without a pet. My house just seemed too empty without a dog.

Best of luck in your search for a new family member. Your daughter sounds so wise. 🙂

10 Cristy { 01.24.17 at 2:41 pm }

Jaxson came into our lives within a few weeks afte I lost Sawyer. Some would argue it was too soon (I struggled a lot with that guilt). Though he will never replace my Saw-bean, Jax helped me heal and reminded me that it is possible to love.

We all grieve in our own way. Sometimes part of that process means spreading the love. Thinking of you as this unfolds.

11 a { 01.24.17 at 6:36 pm }

Good luck – I agree with the ChickieNob – your pig is out there!

12 em { 01.24.17 at 9:13 pm }

I think the time is right for each person and family. No one else can dictate what’s the best for you. I am hopeful that this little one is yours, but even if not, I agree with the ChickieNob. You’re pig is out there, and will be the luckiest guinea pig on planet earth, no question.

13 Jamie { 01.25.17 at 2:05 am }

Sounds like you had a big moment in your griefwork. However this plays out with the twin pig, I think having that realization that you are open to love a new pet is important. And you seem to have internalized the conclusion that this pet will not replace Truman, but be special in its own way. Sounds like your heart is starting to catch up with your brain.

I am curious, how have you honored and memorialized Truman? If that is too private, a moment you want to keep to yourself, I respectfully understand.

14 Charlotte { 01.25.17 at 8:49 am }

ChickieNob is wise beyond her years.

15 Chris { 01.25.17 at 10:38 pm }

Mel, I know it’s not everyone’s option, but for some of us it’s the right option. 5 years ago next month our very, very loved dog died very quickly. She was diagnosed with cancer on Thursday and we decided to start chemo. We took her in on Saturday for fluids and such until we could meet with the oncologist on Monday. At 6 am Monday I got a call the had cardiac arrest. We were devastated. My husband and I both work from home and the house was just SO empty. And our poor other dog had never been an “only child”- he was miserable too! It was less than 2 weeks later that my heart puppy came home. We had to wait for her to be old enough to leave her mama. It was the BEST decision we could have made for us. Her big brother perked right up not being an only dog anymore and she and I have a bond that is nothing short of amazing. So, as long as it’s right for your family, it’s right. I know it was for us. <3

16 katherinea12 { 01.26.17 at 10:06 pm }

It sounds like you know what you want/need in this situation, which is good. I hope you’re able to find your pig soon. Sending thoughts and hopes for both the mourning and filling parts.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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