Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Christmas Pig

Against the advice of nearly all of my friends, I have purchased AC a guinea pig for Christmas. For me, when I saw this face, it was love at first sight:

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It made me remember my own childhood pigs, Piggy and Lucy. Piggy was my first guinea pig, and she was, of course, orange. I am drawn toward orange animals, as evidenced in my selection of pigs and dogs. We were told the Piggy was a young pig, so I was hopeful that Piggy would be in my life for a long, long time. Unfortunately, one night I went to get Piggy, and she was foaming at the mouth. Never a good sign. Piggy died within hours. We should've checked to see if the pet store offered a money-back guarantee.

My second pig, Lucy, was purchased from the same pet store the very next day following Piggy's untimely death. There was only one pig available for sale, and we were told that it was Piggy's mother. Now that her breeding potential had expired, she was out for sale. I took her home the same day.

Lucy was an extraordinarily sweet guinea pig, and let me pet her and pick her up, and gleefully ran around the house, chewing electrical cords and depositing little piles of poo everywhere. Needless to say, I am doubtful that Lucy was my mom's favorite pet.

A couple of years after Lucy had come home, I noticed that she was a bit lethargic in her cage. She wouldn't eat, even when I offered her favorite lettuce. She wasn't drinking. It was obviously that my beloved pig was precariously close to death.

It took less than 24 hours for Lucy to die. I was devastated, and held her in my arms the entire time. I will always remember that she took her last breath on an "in" breath, and over the years, any time I've ever been present at a death, be it an animal or a person, the death always occurs on an in breath and not an out breath. Why is that? Maybe that's why it's called "taking your last breath".

After my pig died, I called my mom at work and begged her to come home. She did not. Some silly story about having no choice but to stay because she was doing employee reviews or something.

So I had no choice but to prep my pig for burial. I got a shoebox, and lined it with a blanket. I put a Cabbage Patch Kids doll dress on my pig, so she wouldn't get chilled. I included some lettuce, and I wrote a gut-wrenching goodbye letter to Lucy. And then I waited for my mother to come home from work, fully anticipating that she would dig the burial hole for my pig.

I will give my mother credit: she did try to dig a burial hole, but lacking a shovel or even a gardening tool, she used a spoon from the kitchen. In Minnesota, in mid-November, this does not get you far. Finally, she gave up, because she simply could not break through the frozen ground.

There was only one option: my mom threw my dead pig in the dumpster.

I have yet to forgive her for this, and when needed as leverage for a loan or babysitting, I will still bring it up in conversation.

I am hoping for a better outcome for AC's new pig, though I am not guaranteed, since when the pig arrived home yesterday, it seemed...lethargic. I hope it is just adjusting to its new home, but it has yet to come out of its piggy bed.

A friend wished me good luck with wrapping the guinea pig. The only thing that could possibly be worse is if AC unwraps the pig on Christmas morning, and it is dead. That is a Christmas morning for the record books, you can be dead sure.


  1. *sigh*

    I'll never tell you "I told you so,"...after this preemptive "I told you so."

    I'm sure she's going to adore it. Does he/she have a name yet?

  2. No. I decided to let her choose the name. She usually chooses names based on what it is, so if it was a bear, it would be named, "Bear". So I strongly suspect the name of her new pet will be "Pig".

    Admit it. You know it's damn cute. Look at that face.

  3. I know why. I know why it's an "in" breath. Your diaphragm works only to expel your breath. When it relaxes, it creates a vacuum, and the air is sucked into the lungs passively. Then the diaphragm contracts up into the lungs to push the air out. It seems like/feels like it's the other way around. Dying is the last "relaxation," so I suppose it WOULD be an "in" breath. I've only ever witnessed one death, and I didn't notice.

    Good luck with Pig. <3