Life of Steve

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Post   » Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:59 pm

Life of Steve


We got Steve in October of 2004 as a companion for our first guinea pig, Ralph. At the time Steve was about eight weeks old. When we got Ralph they told us she was a boy so we made sure we got another male. At first we were concerned with putting two "male" pigs together but when we did, they seemed to really like each other. As the day went by we became suspicious. They liked each other a little too much. A quick inspection revealed two distictly different anatomies. My first reaction was to take him back and get a female. But since Steve had been sexed correctly, we didn't really have any justification. And Steve still needed a home and people to love him. So we built seperate cages side by side so Ralph and Steve could see and talk to each other while we were away at work. They seemed to really like this arrangement. They would often stand on their hind legs and touch noses through the bars. Although that usually ended when Ralph would start to nip poor Steve's nose. Apparently she just wanted to make sure he was still interested. Their pigloos were placed at the opposite ends of their cages and they usually spent the night in them but sometimes we would come down in the morning to find them lying next to each other.

Since Ralph was our first guinea pig, I thought all pigs were skittish and distrustful of people no matter how much time you spent with them. I was happy to learn once we got Steve that guinea pigs, like people, are each individuals and have many different personalities. Steve was the sweetest, gentlest pig you could imagine. When you walked in the room he would usually scurry for his house only to immediately pop back out and come bounding over to the near side of his cage waiting for attention. Sometimes this was accompanied by a shower of shavings as he came skidding to a halt. When we fed him vegetables by hand he would often carry them around in his mouth like a little dog, looking for a good corner to set them down before he ate them. Steve was very inquisitive, he liked to put his mouth on everything to test it but he would never actually bite. One of the things I liked best about Steve is he loved to be petted and stroked, unlike Ralph who twitches and complains if you touch her too much. Steve was the type of guinea pig with the swirled fur so you could stroke him up or down and he didn't seem to mind a bit.


When we got Steve we lived in a ground level apartment. There were windows about waist high that opened directly onto the lawn that was adjacent the building. One of our windows was in a corner below a balcony so it was protected and shady. I used to open the window and set Ralph and Steve in the grass while I sat on the window sill watching them, it was like a piggy porch. I remember the first time I took them outside I was surprised
by their reaction. When we let them out inside, after the initial anatomy sniffing, they would do laps along the walls in a piggy train running all over the place and being very active. But when I took them outside they were very content to sit anywhere I placed them and just munch grass. We've since moved into our own house with a nice back yard. I told Steve all this winter about the fun he and Ralph were going to have this summer in our new yard, but sadly it was not meant to be.

Steve joined our family shortly after my fiance and I graduated college so it was a transitional time in our lives. Over the last year and a half we've moved and each worked a few different jobs as we've begun to develop our careers. At times I've sat and played with our guinea pigs for hours. At other periods I haven't had as much time to spend with them as I would have liked. But I felt good knowing they had large cages and plenty of fresh food and water. And they always had each other when we weren't home.

About a month ago I noticed Steve wasn't eating his vegetables with the usual gusto. Often there would be some left over in his cage when I checked on him later. I thought he had gotten tired of the same old stuff so I changed up his diet a little and he seemed to regain his appetite. I even considered taking him to the vet as a precaution but since he looked fine physically and his attitude was good I thought I'd just keep an eye on him. It was two weeks ago today that I came home from work and noticed right away something was wrong. Usually Steve would be rattling the bars of his cage knowing I was likely to give him a snack. But when I looked in his cage I noticed he was still in his pigloo and he had moved it to face the far corner. I felt sick to my stomach as I lived up his house and saw him lying on his side. I could tell he was dying but I scooped him up and rushed him to the vet. He was clearly in pain but he seemed comforted sitting in my lap as I made the 45 minute drive. When we got to the vet she said there was nothing she could do for him and the best thing to do was put him to sleep. Not wanting him to suffer anymore I agreed.

These last two weeks have been very difficult but I know in time the pain will heal and the good memories will remain. I feel so guilty for not weighing him or taking him to the vet sooner. But the lessons I've learned with Steve I'll use to take better care of our guinea pigs in the future. Although he was with us only a short time, he made a big impression on everyone he met. We love you Steve and we will never forget you.

Who's your Branni?

Post   » Tue Mar 07, 2006 5:41 pm

Handsome Steve. Thanks for sharing.

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Got Pigs?

Post   » Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:54 pm

Steve was lucky to have you for his Mom. God Speed little Steve. You were loved and will be missed. I am very sorry you lost him, but I enjoyed reading his story.

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Post   » Thu Mar 09, 2006 1:28 pm

What a beautiful story. And a beautiful pair of piggies. Sorry about your loss, he sounds like he was a happy pig.

The Zen of Pigs

Post   » Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:10 pm

I'm sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your pigs' story. How is Ralph coping with Steve's death and absence?


Post   » Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:54 am

No offense since I didn't make it clear before but I'm actually their dad.

I'm glad you liked his story, I was very saddened by his death but I wanted to celebrate his life and what a great friend he was. Ralph was very depressed after Steve passed away. She wouldn't sleep in her house, instead she spent most of her time lying next to his cage. I knew she would need another friend so I went looking the next day for another guinea pig.

Luckily I was able to find a young male guinea pig to adopt in our local area. I brought him home and we named him Jim. After reading the information on Guinea Lynx I knew enough to quarantine him, unlike when we brought Steve home and just put him in with Ralph immediately. Unfortunately Jim started sneezing about four days after we got him home. Again, thanks to GL I knew right away it was probably a URI and could be very serious so a quick trip to the vets confirmed Jim was developing a URI and they Rxed some antibiotics for 10 days. Hopefully if his treatment goes well and he is healthy we can introduce them in a few weeks.

In the meantime I've been spending lots of extra time with Ralph. At first she was very quiet but now she seems back to her old self. I bought a scale and she hasn't lost any weight so that's good. I'm going to be out of town on business next week but after I get back I'm planning to redesign our guinea pig cages. I want to switch from the wire shelving / aspen that we have now, to c & c / fleece. The wire shelving has worked great but I think the c & c will be give me more options to play around with. Also if I can make the cages big enough we are thinking of looking for another female. It's funny when this all started I thought one guinea pig was more than enough, now I'm considering three. There has to be a limit somewhere right?

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