It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of a dear, dear pig. Maude died very early last Wednesday morning after a brief illness.
On Tuesday morning, I noticed she wasn't eating much of anything, but just pretending to -- taking vegetables into her house and hiding them. By lunch, she seemed listless, so I called the vet and got an appointment for later that afternoon.
The vet found an abcess behind Maude's right ear. He seemed optimistic about her recovery, and sent us home with some antibiotics and a special food mix to give Maude through a syringe.
When we got her home, I tried feeding her the apple-and-banana-smelling mush, but she seemed disinterested -- I put it in her mouth, but she didn't swallow. I was hopeful she had managed to eat a little, since she sometimes seemed to chew, dosed her with her antibiotics, and put her in a smaller cage away from Bessie so I could monitor her eating.
I gave her another feeding around 8, and then another at midnight. She was limp and weak by then, and didn't even struggle as I lifted her out of the cage. Ordinarily, she is all flailing legs.
I realized at the last feeding that Maude was ready to let go, and spent some time cuddling and talking to her, telling her what a good pig she is, and how much we love her.
I placed her back in her cage around 1am, brushed my teeth, and by the time I came back into the room, she was gone.
Alex and I buried her up at my parents' house, in a spot she would have loved -- right by where our vegetable patch used to be. I put some dandelion leaves (her favorite) on her grave.
When the vet heard how fast she had declined, he was surprised, but suggested that what we thought was an abcess had in fact been a tumour. Looking back, I see now that Maude's hearing and her gait had not been quite "right" for a few days. She also had a really strange "quack"-sounding sneeze for the last year or so that the vets were never able to diagnose... she never had signs of an infection; it was unexplainable at the time. Maybe these were signs of something else.
Maude was my first guinea pig. After months of talking about getting a pig, Alex bought me Maude for my birthday at a pet store in Ottawa, right before we moved. She stayed there until we got to Ottawa. As soon as we were unpacked, we picked her up and it was love at first sight -- the extravagant hair, the timid and comical ways, her absolute delight in being scratched under the chin.
As a younger pig, Maude would race around her cage and leap onto her house almost every night. When Bessie came along, they chased each other in and out of the pigloos. As she got older, she slowed down, sometimes, in recent weeks, resting her tired little body on her stuffed sock, Mordecai, when she lay down to sleep.
In addition to her own "real" past (she had had at least one baby that we know of) Maude had a rich imaginary life, filled with advanced degrees, English cousins, a devotion to Roman Catholicism, and intrigues with (possibly Jewish) stuffed socks. She relished leafy vegetables of all kinds, and had a special fondness for nectarines. I'm sad she didn't get to taste any this year.
Maude, you were a very special pig, and we'll always remember you.