I’m going to tell you a story about another guinea pig. His name was Lee. He was very near and dear to my heart. This is a very painful story for me to tell. But, I think it’s something everyone needs to hear. It is a story that breaks my heart each time I tell it…a story that tears my soul…a story that no one that loves guinea pigs should ever experience… This is the final part of a three part tale about Lee…
Thursday could not have arrived any sooner. Lee was very obviously not feeling well. He was not eating well and slept a lot. Throughout the week he was the sweetest guinea pig. He didn’t let how he felt interfere with him snuggling with me or trying his hardest to eat. I had to buy some Critical Care to help feed him. Lee took the feedings all in stride.
On Thursday I packed him up and we drove to the vet. I wrapped him in a small towel and he spent the entire trip on my lap sleeping. When I got the vet I sat in the parking lot staring at the small white bundle in my lap. He was so sweet and nice. I had totally fallen in love with him. I gently stroked his back and scratched behind his ear. He slowly woke up, stretched, and yawned. “Come on big guy,” I said to him. “We are here…”
I walked into the vet’s office and registered him. He went from person to person as I filled out the paper work. Everyone loved him. Finally, I got him back. We were put in a vet exam room right away. Soon after, the tech came in and took Lee’s vitals and some basic information about why he was at the vet’s office. At one point the tech asked me, “Is he a lethal?” I told her that I had no idea what she was talking about.
After a bit of a wait the vet came in. He looked alarmed when he saw Lee. “What?” I asked alarmed as well.
“Is he a lethal?” he asked me.
“What is a lethal?” I asked a bit defensively.
“It’s a condition from bad breeding selection… These guinea pigs have a lot of health issues, a lot of recessive traits, and usually don’t live very long…”
I turned and looked down at Lee. He was sleeping on the exam table. I looked back up at the vet and burst into tears, “What?!?” was all I could get out. “No, no, no, not my Lee…”
The vet came up and hugged me. I bent forward and cried into his shoulder. “Let me look at him and we can go from there… Ok?”
“Ok,” I said releasing my hug. I sat down and hung my head. I quietly cried when the vet looked at Lee.
After about five minutes the vet put his hand on my shoulder. He kneeled down in from of me, “Kerry Anne?” he said. I simply let out a sob as an acknowledgement to his use of my name. “He is a lethal,” the vet explained. When I heard the news I let out an involuntary moan.
“How can this be?” I asked the floor. I got a hold of myself enough to ask, “What now?”
“This is the hard part,” the vet explained, “His heart is not doing well right now…”
I looked up and moaned, “Nooooo… Nooooo… Nooooo…”
“Here,” the vet said handing me a tissue. I saw that he was beginning to tear up. “We need to make a decision about him…”
“What?” I said snapping my head up.
“His heart is really bad, Kerry Anne. It may be best to…”
“Nooooooo…” was all I could moan.
“I’m going to give you some time with him. When you are ready, let me know your decision. Ok?” the vet told me but wasn’t truly listening. I nodded my head and continued to stare at the floor. I heard the door close. I got up and walked over to the sink. I washed my face, blew my nose, and tried to compose myself. I walked over to Lee and picked him up. He woke up and I placed him in his favorite spot on my left shoulder.
“Oh, Dude,” I said as I rocked him and walked around the room. “I don’t know if I can let you go…” He looked up at me and gave me a weak squeak. That’s when his true condition hit me. I looked into his eyes and saw how truly sick he was. I guess I hadn’t noticed before because I didn’t want to. But now, reality was setting in. He was in the process of actively dying. There was nothing I or anyone else could do. I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. Take him home and let him die there or help him die here.
I looked down into his eyes and said, “I love you. I will not let you suffer. I was put into your life to be strong for you, my baby. I will make the correct decision. I am sorry. Thank you, my love, thank you.”
I walked with Lee in my arms until I was ready. He was asleep again. Then I called the vet in and signed the paperwork.
Lee passed peacefully in his sleep in my arms. That night I went home and got the cremated remains of my guinea pig Petey. I put Petey with Lee for his cremation. I didn’t want him to be alone.
My heart was broken that day. Sometimes I can still feel Lee on my shoulder, one of his favorite places. I like to think that it’s him telling me that he is ok. I thank all that is good for my time with Lee. He was special and taught me so much in his short time here.
A month later Alfalfa came crashing into my life.
This story is dedicated to Mr. Pixie and my Lee. Two wonderful guinea pigs that were not here long enough.