Farewell Charlie

Charlie the guinea pig died yesterday.

Dh went out to feed Charlie and Lola and reappeared with his ‘I have to deliver bad news’ face on. I was really shocked. Charlie was less than two years old and we expected the piggies to live for another couple of years, at least. She hadn’t shown any signs of illness in the last few days (although apparently guinea pigs hide illness as a defence mechanism) and had been eating normally and running around as usual. There were some loud bangs from the fireworks over the weekend but they have coped fine with them before.

I told the girls this morning. R went very quiet, developed a very wobbly lip and launched herself at me for a big cuddle. I stroked her hair as she sobbed quietly. G looked confused for a moment and said ‘Yes but when can we have breakfast?’. I asked her how she felt and she said ‘Not sad’. I suggested that the girls made cards to remember Charlie by. G said ‘Charlie won’t be able to see them and anyway, we didn’t make cards for the fish when they died’. Sometimes G is so very much like her father/Richard Dawkins that it is frightening!

It was with some trepidation that I went out to see Lola this morning. She seems to be fine, although hadn’t touched her food since yesterday. This is also quite common in guinea pigs. The loss of a companion can make them depressed and off their food. I brought her indoors and the girls and I gave her lots of cuddles. She has now eaten all of her food, plus some carrot that the girls and Dh fed her earlier.

We’re going to keep an extra-special eye on Lola over the next few days to see how she copes with the loss of her companion. Charlie was always the first to the food (she practically inhaled lettuce leaves) so Lola is probably adjusting to having first dibs at the buffet for a change. I’m not sure whether I want to get a new baby guinea pig as we might end up in a cycle of replacing piggies. Plus, we don’t know if Charlie’s death was a freak incident or if Lola has something untoward too.

Charlie – you loved your food but didn’t like eating out of our hands. Every time we cleaned your hutch out to tried to escape Steve McQueen-style across the garden. You were always the first to the vegetable buffet. You had quite a lot of junk in your trunk despite the guinea pig run and squeaked indignantly if you thought we had forgotten to feed you. You were a good and true friend to Lola and we will all miss you.

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