Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Farewell Ruth

July the 26th was a crappy day. Top to bottom: crap. With one exception: Ruth's suffering was finally over. It started a few months ago when I recognised that she had lost weight. Concerning guinea pigs, that is always the signal to take a closer look than usual. I weighed her 2 times a day for a couple of days and her weight dropped even more. Not much, but even so. Then she seemed to lose strength in her hindlegs. Our guineapigs live in a compound that has a plexiglass window on one side and they always stand on their hindlegs and jump and scrape at the panel when they are begging for food =) Ruth had difficulties standing on her hindlegs. I didn't waste any more time and took her to the vet. I was afraid that she could be suffering from a kind of paralysis that is known to befall guineapigs. The vet seemed to think so, too. You can treat it and keep the symptoms at bay if you're lucky but you cannot heal it. We treated Ruth with a lot of vitamins and watched her closely. The weird thing was that it only seemed to be her feet that were paralysed. The problems with animals that small is that they have a very fast metabolism. That means that everything that happens, happens quickly. She lost the muscles in her hindlegs very quickly but could still move relatively fast despite her wobbly feet. I was hopeful that she would learn to live with the situation, even though I knew that it would probably shorten her livespan. We still don't know for sure what it was exactly that she was suffering from, even the vet could only guess. I think that it was definitely a neuronal problem. The upper part of her body was alright, but the paralysis probably affected her kidneys, too. She lost every control of her bladder and her intestine and got major problems with infections in her bladder as her bottom always lay directly on the floor due to the numb feet / legs. We took care of her and cleaned her little hiney several times a day. She was happy when she could lie and sleep on a hot water bottle (she was cold due to her loss of weight) and eat her favourite food. As always, we carried on as long as she would be happy despite her many issues. But on July the 26th she would neither eat tomato nor cucumber and I decided that it was time to let her go. The vet put her to sleep while I stroked her head and whispered that I were by her side and how much I loved her and that she needed not to be afraid

The appointment with the vet was in the afternoon and I tried to make her last hours as comfy as possible. Luckily I still had some of the painkillers that I got for her and she even nibbled a bit of lettuce. During those hours I always had one thought in my head: „These are the last minutes you have with her...at 3 pm you will have to say goodbye.“ But I am glad that there is the possibility to send them on their journey because sometimes they want to leave but can't. Ruth surely would have died eventually on her own, but it would have taken days and she would have been in pain. I let them die naturally when I know that it will be peaceful and painfree because it surely is nicer to die in your home, surrounded by friends.

We buried her in the evening and – so very fitting – it started to rain as we walked into the forest to find a nice place for her. It was not only raining, it came down in sheets. We were drenched to the skin within seconds. I was already completely crushed, but when I laid her into that tiny hole I got even more sad as I couldn't see a thing in all that rain that spattered my glasses. I have buried many, many animals during the years, it aches the same every time. But I am glad that she is reunited with Emma now, painfree and at peace.

Farewell Ruth, thank you for a splendid and funny time! We will never forget you!