Last July, I wrote about the passing of our guinea pig, Nugget (Requiem for a Guinea Pig – 8th July 2020). His death left Patchy all alone and we needed to find him a hutch mate; guinea pigs are herd animals and should never be kept alone.
After much searching, we found Ruby, a lady also in her golden years. After some initial suspicion – Patchy, being rather a greedy pig, was concerned about sharing his food – the two bonded and are now devoted to each other.
As Patchy is neutered, we are not worried about baby guinea pigs.
A couple of months ago we realised Ruby had cataracts and was losing her sight. She is now completely blind.
It’s not a huge problem, of course – she does not need to keep watch for an attacking hawk or predating fox, and her nose works just fine for finding the food bowl, but it has meant a change in the way we do things. When we clean their cage, we put everything back exactly the way it was, so she knows where her house and toys are. When they go outside to graze on the lawn, I make sure to put her first into her “igloo,” so she feels safe. We have put a guard on the ramp to the higher level of their hutch, so she won’t fall off as she runs up and down. Her loss of sight is not a huge problem, but we have changed how we do things.
Having covid in the family has also made us rethink. We did not lose our sight but losing one’s sense of taste and smell is disconcerting and worrying. The tiredness and fatigue have meant careful consideration of whether each journey is really necessary: yes – I’m talking about walking upstairs here! Easily the worst thing has been my daughter’s breathing. She has felt as if she has concrete in her lungs and as if she was trying to breathe with her nose pressed right up against a dusty sofa. You don’t realise how much you take breathing, energy and your senses for granted, until you don’t have them.
There have been some amusing moments, however. In an attempt to get her to eat something, I procured her favourite sausage rolls and Cornish pasties. This was not a success. She turned to me with a face of betrayal. “Mummy, do you know how disgusting a Cornish pasty is when you can’t taste it? The texture is horrible!”
I have been cooking hot curries and spicy Mexican food for her, so she can taste them; I have let the housework go because we are all too tired to do it and, besides, there is nobody to see the mess but ourselves; I have said a grateful “Yes,” to all the kind friends who have offered to help and shop for us.
And I shall be profoundly grateful when we can all taste, smell and breathe freely again.
A Moodscope member.