Panda's First Smile

Panda's First Smile
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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our Brave Lioness...


Tonight the herd is quiet and YumYum cried. Coconut is looking for her best friend
and mom grief-stricken. Erica died today on her own
from a large, fast-growing malignant tumor. She communicated her wishes to us
not to be kept alive for surgery tomorrow. We called the vet and communicated
her wishes to them, as well. The vet was gone for the day but the staff called
him back in. He had hoped to get her strong enough to possibly remove the tumor.
Today we had a sudden windstorm so strong it nearly blew out our windows and
knocked power out in the city for most of the day. We felt her ask us to let
her go, as she was suffering and in great pain.

Mom could not drive up to Lynden because of the storm and her health. It was our
desire to have her on our lap, comforting her in a warm, loving embrace. She let
us know it was not necessary. So Mom made arrangements.
And the vet was called in. All the while we were crying, saying goodbye to her
and telling her how much we love her. She was thankful that we understood and
would not force her to continue living in pain, much less the trauma of an
unwanted surgery...that is not how she wanted to die. And that is not how we
wanted her to die. called the Clinic, the Clinic called the vet back in, a tech
gave her the meds and fluids on schedule, the vet took a look then went into his
office to prepare. When he came back out, she was gone. Mom explained what had
happened and how she had asked for our mercy to let her go. How she waited
and held on until we could. Then how quickly she was gone once she had made
sure that we were O.K.

Soulful. Thoughtful, and kind to us in dying as in living: she would hold in her pee if
she was on your lap to keep from soiling you, then squirm so hard to hold it
in you would realize how badly she needed to go. And as soon as she was back
in her cage, she would gratefully pee. She was considerate of us even in death
in her incomprehensible pain and suffering, alone in her cage at the vet hospital.
Mom told the vet why she had changed up and asked him to come back today instead
of having surgery tomorrow and the vet said his own wife was like that with their
animals. He knows how devastated we are when we lose one of our herd.

Guinea pigs are extremely sensitive, spiritual, emotional souls: They can die
from grief and they can die from pain.
Her last night here she slept by mom's bed in her own little sleeping bag
so mom could pet her and check on her throughout the night, knowing this might be
their last night together.

Erica was the gentlest of the herd, quiet, sweet, and our humble Lioness!
Our grief feels bottomless tonight.

We adopted Erica and Coconut, our first females, after they were surrendered to the
nearby farm store, unwanted. For two weeks the people tried to get us to adopt them
but mom wasn't sure she had the strength to care for six. Customer after customer
walked by their cage, ignoring them. Coconut and Erica are not typical-looking guinea
pigs. No one found them attractive.

The people at the Farm Store begged mom to take them, saying no one else would.
So, we did. And we became a herd for the first time. A herd of six. We got girls and
we got happy. We played together on our owlie rug and chased, hid, and teased each other.
Kestra's daughter, Kezia, even gave Coconut her name after deep consideration.

But tonight, it's very quiet. We miss her so. Erica...we love you.
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