Whilst visiting with the guinea pigs and rabbit lately, we’ve noticed that our dear Little My seems to have lost her sight.
She’s over five ears old, this stout little pig. She came to live with us when we were still living in the tumbledown cottage in Brisbane. Since then she’s lived through the death of her original partner (Snufkin – an unexplained and sudden demise a year later), leaping off the table and being chased around Mum’s front porch in Brisbane by Toph the mad dachshund – it was a manic five minutes of hysterical yapping on Toph’s behalf, frantic shrieking on Little My’s part, demented shouting and arm waving by Abby, Mum and me, clumps of guinea fur everywhere, and culminated in Little My scootling straight off the edge of the porch (1 storey up) and landing in the garden below – eeek!
There was a plane trip to Melbourne. The arrival of a new mate (the neurotic Wendoline) and rabbits. A holiday to Merimbula in the guinea caravan (a.k.a. a dog crate) that included two 8 hour car journeys. And daily visits from a crazy Fu who, after enjoying cuddles and snoozing with the guineas when she was a pup, now likes to hurl herself at the guinea enclosure whilst giving them a super bark. They don’t even bat their eyelids.
We think of Little My as guinea pig extraordinaire – the indestructible – but I have a sad feeling that may be changing. I hoped into the enclosure yesterday with a bunch of fresh celery leafs. Miss Hinchcliffe (our current rabbit and Little My’s bestest ever friend) bounded up per usual and began feasting before the leaves had even hit the hay. Wendoline poked her head out from under the hut and shrieked for me to leave so that she could venture out and have her fill. Little My – whose usually right by Miss Hinchcliffe’s side - twitched her nose and began eating the hay at her feet. She then slowly muddled her way over the celery leaves, nibbling the hay as she moved. It was as if she knew it was there because she could smell it, but she couldn’t see it – she had to find it by taste and smell. Completely new behaviour.
Hmmm … her heart rate seems fine – racing, which is normal for guineas. Her appetite is in no way diminished. And when we picked her up she doesn’t complain or wince, but sits contentedly for a snuggle.
But she’s slower and her once firmly rounded body is looking a little leaner. And Wendoline and Miss Hinchcliffe are taking extra lovely care of her. Instead of darting about the enclosure, building new tunnels and playing amongst the hay, she just sits quietly, her eyes mostly closed, with one or both of the others pressed up against her. It’s truly heart-melting to watch. Wendoline grooms Little My’s face every now and then, and as the afternoon shadows lengthen, Miss Hinchcliffe lays one of her lovely, soft, long ears over Little My’s shoulders. They seem to know she’s old and frail. Who says animals don’t experience and express love, compassion and understanding.
Perhaps Little My’s just experiencing old age. Maybe something more sinister is afoot. Who knows. In the meantime we shall squeeze in as many cuddles as we can, keep filling the enclosure with her favourite lovely fresh vegetables – I shall even buy her some ridiculously expensive and out of season green beans ’cause they are her ultimate favourite, and wish for as much sunshine to warm that sweet little face as possible.
When she goes – if she goes soon – we can comfort ourselves with the reminder that she’s has a good life, this guinea pig. But we’re still feeling a little sad – she’s our last pet connecting us with Brisbane (do you know, it was two years this week just passed since our beloved Simon and Toph died – still unbelievable). And we love her so.