Saturday, 14 September 2013

Facts of Life and Death

I had a strange dream last night. In it I was chasing our guinea pig, Flash, who had somehow escaped. I remember running after him but not being quick enough as he dashed down the side of the house.

My mum and dad were around in the dream helping me out and I knew I had to rescue the tiny creature before youngest son discovered the disappearance of his much loved pet.

Along the way I did manage to capture another stray guinea pig, he stopped and stared up at me all forlorn. He was grey and white with a slightly dishevelled look about him – I named him Spike (I’ve watched Notting Hill this week and I think that’s where the name came from!) Then I found a very tiny white bundle of fluff – another guinea pig perhaps although later it transformed into a bloated and plucked dead chicken sort of thing!

Eventually I caught Flash reaching up to the window ledge in an effort to get out of the window – wasn’t he just outside, how did we all end up indoors – oh yes this was a dream and these sorts of things can happen in dreams.

Then we were standing at the top of the stairs and as mum opened a wooden box/cage sort of thing to put the guinea pig in a pile of brightly coloured buttons tumbled out.

“I wondered where they had gone!” She said, while I was more concerned that we remove the dead chicken/thing before adding Flash in with his new friend Spike!

Then I woke up!

I blame my weird dream on listening to the radio yesterday; there was a phone-in about other people’s pets dying while you were looking after them.

The listeners who phoned in told some hilarious stories. There was the man who caught an escaped gerbil but then threw it onto the floor to its untimely death when it bit him and the woman who put her neighbour’s dead cat in the freezer to preserve it while they were away on holiday. “We recently bought a chest freezer because my husband is into roadkill" she announced and it had me in hysterics. I was trying to write yesterday’s blog post at the time and I really needed the giggle!

It has happened to us, not the putting a pet in the freezer bit, but we were looking after our friends’ guinea pigs last Christmas when one died. Was it perhaps a bit too cold and freezer like in our porch in mid-December? However this particular guinea pig had always been a sickly looking thing and to be truthful even my friends weren’t expecting it to last long…it would have be nice if it had lived a day or two longer though!

Then around Easter time my mother-in-law was looking after our two guinea pigs when Fluffy died. She wrapped him up in newspaper, a carrier bag and then popped him in a tin for good measure, which I think she may have taped up, to stop anything getting at him while he sat in the garage awaiting our return.

I unwrapped the many layers and placed him in a shoebox coffin for the funeral – shoe boxes are such a perfect fit for a guinea pig.

Our remaining guinea pig, Flash, survived the loss of his brother and had been doing very nicely earlier in the summer, darting about the run in the sunshine, eating dandelions. However as the summer holidays drew to an end so Flash lost some of his perkiness.

My friend and her family looked after him while we went away on our last holiday excursion.

“He’s a bit off his food.” She said when we got back.

“I noticed that.” I said but I didn’t know what I could do.

Then their family rabbit got sick and my friend spent a small fortune at the vet.

“That much - on a rabbit?!”

I wondered if I was cruel and heartless or just practical but their rabbit picked up a bit, meanwhile our guinea pig seemed to be getting more and more withdrawn and lethargic.

But the rabbit took a sudden turn for the worse, he died on the Wednesday and by Friday morning our guinea pig had gone too – so we had a double funeral. Part of me rejoiced - there was no longer a dilemma about taking Flash to the vets and it saved me having to dig the grave – maybe I am cruel and heartless after all? At least this time round the pets died on home ground!

I read some of the follow up comments from the radio phone-in. Although lots of people had laughed at the stories some were unimpressed by the flippant tone.

I know pets are important and much loved members of the family but to be honest I’ve never been excessively upset when one of my pets has died. It’s all part of life and death, nothing lives forever.

RIP Flash
My boys might have been sad for a while over the loss of Cuggle, Snowy, Tardis, Fluffy and Flash the five guinea pigs they have known and loved in their short lives, (although not always cared for – why is it always mum’s job to clean them out?) but there is no comparison to what they lost when their dad died. 

Anyway I’ve decided there will be no more pets for us…

…only the ones in my dreams.

I just hope I don’t ever really find a cute grey and white guinea pig staring up at me because I already know he’s called Spike and I won’t be able to resist the urge to bring him home and care for him!

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