- It started with Louie...
“Likes to wear hats?” I thought. So I gave them a call. “Yes the guinea pig is still here. Yes his name is Louie but I don’t know why the paper said he likes to wear hats because we never tried to put a hat on him. Would you like to come see him?”
So I jumped in the car and took a look at Louie. ‘He’s so big! I didn’t think a guinea pig was this big.” But I held him anyway and while petting him gingerly, I heard Louie’s story. He was an older pig with no known history. All they knew about him was that he was literally being tossed around in a local bar. The men tossing him were thinking of ways to kill him for fun and decided to throw him in a cold Wisconsin snowbank and see how long it would take for him to die. As they did that, I woman sitting in the bar felt sorry for him, snuck out to the snowbank, grabbed Louie and brought him home for the night. She then brought him to the local animal shelter the next morning and there he sat for a few weeks. Louie was skinny and scared. I knew nothing about guinea pigs but I knew I wanted to show this little guy in arms what love felt like.
So I brought Louie home. He sat in his Rubbermaid container while I researched on the web all there is to know about guinea pigs. “What am I going to do with a guinea pig?” I thought. But late that night, I took him out, laid on the couch and put Louie on my chest while I watched some TV. Within a few minutes, the cute little brown guy put his head down, closed his eyes and fell asleep on my chest. I saw his ears twitch while I watched him sleep and that was it, I was in love.
Louie became my special project; my baby, my reason to wake up in the morning. I was in a severe depression before Louie came into my life. My husband moved us to a small town where I couldn’t find a job and didn’t know anyone to make friends with. I was depressed and miserable but Louie changed that. By saving Louie, he saved me.
Then came some happy times! Louie and I were inseparable. He had free range of the house and he followed me everywhere I went, especially the kitchen. He slept with me at night when my husband was out of town. He took afternoon naps with me. He went camping with me and he even sat in the passenger side when I went for Dairy Queen runs.
It wasn’t long before I found a great job and started having to leave Louie during the day. Then a few months later, I found out I was pregnant. It was around that time that I discovered Guinea Lynx on one of my internet searches and learned that he shouldn’t be alone. He needs a friend. So we brought Louie down to the Baraboo Guinea Pig rescue and Rachel introduced Louie and me to Chewie. Sure it wasn’t a perfect match but Louie had a friend now and I didn’t have to worry about him being lonely. But he was still and would always be a “people pig”.
Two days later, Louie had surgery for a dermal cyst that ruptured on his hind quarters. Four weeks later, the other cyst was removed. I remember staying home for those surgeries. I was so worried about him that I couldn’t work. But like a champ, he pulled through.
Six months later I went into labor in the early morning hours. The contractions were bad and I was ready to walk out the door to the hospital but then I saw Louie and Chewie in their cage and it was dirty. I was going to be gone for a few days and I couldn’t stand to think of Louie waiting for me in a dirty cage. So yes, in between strong contractions, I cleaned the cage and snuggled with Louie before I left.
Louie took a back seat to my daughter’s needs but I tried to make time for him as often as possible. He would nip at strangers’ fingers but for some reason, he was always gentle and patient with my daughter. In fact, one of my daughter’s first words was Louie.
Then in March 2004, Louie was quite ill and I couldn’t figure out why. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my little Louie and never gave up on him. A nasty bladder stone and stupid vet almost took my Louie away from me. But we pulled through and that gave me the wake up call to cherish him more and more. Then came some teeth issues and more surgery. And then came another disgusting bladder stone but this time with a wonderful, competent vet. We were happy and worry free for three weeks and then in April came the news of another bladder stone invading my poor little guy. “Louie wouldn’t make it through another surgery, Serena. I’m sorry,” my vet said. This is it, something told me I need to prepare for the end of Louie and me.
The last few months were very bitter sweet. He was old, weak, and tired and would lie on my lap for hours; always content. But my little groundhog, who used to tip the scales at 3lbs 4 oz, was now merely a 2lbs 2oz little guy. “Let me go,” his eyes told me and so with a heavy heart I did.
I love you, Louie, and will always will. You will never be forgotten. You brought such joy into my life and gave me more than you’ll ever know. I’m sorry our time was short (4.5 years was no long enough!) and I hope to see you again. I’ll miss your morning greeting, your kisses, your happy noises, and your kicked out leg while resting. I’ll miss your smell and your shiny dark fur. You were my big, brown baby and you took a part of me with you when you left. The pain of your loss is still great but that just shows how much I love you. Take care little guy, may you rest under that shade tree, in the rolling hills of grass, with such a deep slumber that your ears twitch again for me; just like they did that first night when you fell asleep on my chest. Good bye.