I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Death of Rosie

It was an overcast day, this morning when we found out Rosie's health had taken a serious turn for the worse. When checking on the guineas, instead of finding two snuggly girls hiding, but ready to be held, we found small pools of diarrhea around the room on the tile. Ginger was chirping as usual when we went to visit, but Rosie was strangely quiet.

See, her mate had died a few weeks prior to her coming to live with us. We read up on guinea pigs, and found this could cause a guinea to grieve and refuse to eat. We thought she had been adjusting well, as she had a healthy appetite. Her nickname used to be FatFat, so the previous owners told us. She cooed a lot with Ginger, and seemed generally very happy.

The past few days, however, she had been refusing to eat.

We had been trying to feed her some cucumbers and green peppers, but she wouldn't eat them. Upon close examination, we found that somehow she had lost both front teeth. So we took to hand feeding her tiny pieces so she could chew them with her molars. We also picked fresh grass that we thought would help. She loved it. We hoped she would make a good recovery. We read that grass helped to clear up diarrhea.

After bathing away all the icky from her fur and feet, and drying her off well, we put a pile of fresh grass nearby, trying to tempt her to eat. We left her alone, intending to check on her in a short while and make sure she was alright. She cooed, and went right for the grass. Our hearts soared with relief.

A major thunderstorm rolled in just a while later, and we became busy closing windows and securing puppies out of the rain. Dinner prep had begun, and the usual bustle that entails. After eating, the power went out as it does so often here, and we had a long debate about whether or not to go buy some ice cream to try and cool down.

After about half an hour, it was decided Kat and Sia would go with Daddy, and Tina and I would stay home. When they left, I decided it was time to check on the guinea pigs. The power had since come back on, and we would be able to check Rosie out better in the light. Tina said she would do it. When she entered the room, she didn't see Rosie anywhere, but Ginger was running around the floor, having escaped from her box. (She loves to be free and run- we have an empty room and don't mind.) Tina came out of the room on the verge of tears, telling me she found Rosie lying on her side in their box, struggling to breathe.

I rushed into the room and found her exactly as Tina described. I went to pick her up, but realized she was soaking wet. Her bowels had disengaged. She was a mess. I got a kitchen towel and wrapped her in it, picking her up gently, so as not to hurt her. Her breathing was ragged, but regular. She was pretty limp, and could not support her head.

Tina burst into tears. I sat at the dining room table, holding Rosie, and wondering how in the world I would explain this to the two animal lovers in the family. I thought their getting ice cream would at least be a little comfort.

In a few short minutes Rosie deteriorated further. It is difficult to watch a living thing struggle with death. Shallow, ragged breathing, the pressing of her small head into my arm as she tried to adjust the position of her throat, her little feet doing a walking motion, and the sheer lightness of her small body all made me realize how close to death she was.

And yet, she held on.

The girls arrived home to tell me the store was closed. No ice cream. They saw Tina's tear-streaked face, and knew something was wrong. When they noticed Rosie wrapped in my arms, they broke down. They each took a turn holding her, and then gave her back to me.

Rosie and I sat at the dining room table for over three hours; her snuggled in her blankets, hopefully in comfort during her final hours; me alternately comforting crying girls with broken hearts, and checking to see if Rosie was still breathing.

Rosie held on so long I began to wonder if she had already died, but some freak muscle twitch made it look as though she were still trying to breathe.

I tried to picture us burying her in the back yard, having a small funeral, and making a little monument to our dear friend. My next thought pictured our dogs digging up the grave and desecrating her broken little body.

I shuddered.

But I could not, in good conscience plan to wrap her in a plastic bag or two and throw her out like so much garbage. She had been a friend, snuggle buddy, and bringer of joy to our girls, though her time with us had been short. Tossing her out with the trash seemed so wrong.

Yet I knew we couldn't keep her forever.

At eleven PM, I decided to put her in a small box, still wrapped in her blankets, to wait and see what the morning would bring. Most of me was hoping she would die in the night, a slim part of me praying for a miraculous recovery. But when I got to my room, I couldn't let her die like that. The girls took turns again holding her, all swaddled up. Finally at 12:15 AM I shooed them off to bed.

Rosie died at 12:20 AM.

Sia was the only one still awake, and, having cried heard earlier and suffered a heavy nose bleed because of it, asked to lie in my bed for a while. There were more tears, as she realized she would never see Rosie again, but she was glad Rosie wasn't suffering anymore.

Me too.


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