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A few days ago, I had a sore throat. I didn't think too much of it, and because it was a family night, we ordered pizza. The next few days, it developed into a full blown fever and the most painful sore throat I could remember. I was sick in bed and just slept through the days. I remembering getting up on Friday morning to change out the cage, I even washed and soaked some veggies for them. For the last month, Cotton has been living with Snowy in the living room as I gave Fuzz to Winnie for to keep her Shui Mui company.
I remember taking Cotton out from under the fleece and putting him and Snowy on the second floor as I mucked out their first floor, this was July 8th. The living room cage is right up against the window, it gets a direct hit from the sun at times of the day...which is why I put up coroplast boards behind it to block out the sun, and gave them an iced bottle wrapped in a towel throughout the day. Nonetheless, I was still very sick that day so I just cleaned their cage, refilled their water, pellets, hay, dumped in the veggies and went back to bed. I slept through the rest of that day, and the next. On the third day, July 10th, I was better by the afternoon and when I went to check on the pigs, I saw Cotton lying flat out beneath the water bottle. It didn't strike me as particularly odd, until I noticed his two hind feet were lifted slightly off the ground. I picked him up and he was light as a feather. I weighed him and he had lost near 200g and I immediately set about rehydrating him, syringe feeding him water...critical care....then I put him back with Snowy. He leaned weakly against Snowy. I went to see the other pigs at this point and saw that a few of the girls had soft poops. Then I looked back in Cotton's cage and saw dried up diarrhoea...it was a Sunday night, and the hospitals are closed....so I stayed up all night feeding him water and critical care throughout. He was extremely weak the entire night, his breathing rapid and shallow. He had absolutely no body strength, and was completely limp. He chewed his critical care very very slowly, and if I tried more than 5 syringes at a time, it will simply pool back out. Water dribbled down his chin, and he didn't urinate or excrete the whole night. I massaged his tummy, hoping to get his guts back in action....Denice stayed online on facebook the whole night and talked me through what to do....
He was still breathing when morning came, but that was all he did. Everytime I looked at him I was afraid to see that he had stopped even that. I was so afraid....his appointment is at 10:15am and I wrapped him up with a warm bottle, put him in the pet carrier and set out for the hospital.
He was gone on the way.
Cotton would have been 1 year old in exactly 1 month, and I didn't even let him live to that. When Puffy left me, I promised him that I would take such good care of his wives and kids, when Puffy left, I vowed no other pig will live as short as he did. And yet, Cotton didn't even make it to half of his daddy's age. The last two days as I make cremation arrangements for Cotton, I am restless all through the day, I want to sit down and write this memorial for him because I owed it to him. But whenever I try to put my feelings into words I am at a loss, because what happened was just so outrageously unforgivable and could in so many so many ways be prevented....
Diarrhoea. Dehydration. Heat stroke....as fellow piggy owners...we are all too familiar with the fatal threat those bring. and yet somehow it just all slipped through my hands because I was sick and sleeping in bed and didn't think to check on Cotton. Snowy had soft poops, too. But she wasn't as badly affected and at least drank water, but as Denice explained to me, Cotton obviously took the worst hit from the vegetables, and he was dehydrated from the diarrhoea, which made him sick, and then he didn't want to drink water. Coupled with the heat, he just collapsed. When I found him Sunday evening, I think it was already too late..he has probably stopped eating for over 24 hours and his system just shut down.
I bought the vegetables from the same supermarket I've been buying from the last 2 years, I wash and soak them the same way I always do. and they are the same veggies they have been eating all their lives....so it must've been some bacteria in that batch.
Cotton, our dear little Cotton. I think back on the memories and laughter you brought to us. I watched you grow from a soft furry cotton ball to a big fluffy cotton ball. Always soft, always sweet.
not to forget your big feet, too
your first encounter with daddy
you were the first one to figure out the water bottle, smart boy
and you taught your siblings that you eat the food bowl, not the other way around
had a good number of athletic cells in you, too
um, get me off everest please mom
*clinging on for dear life*
but shared your veggie with her nonetheless
Cotton, I tried so hard to save you...I hope I didn't cause you more pain and discomfort that night by feeding critical care and water to you. I hope I somehow, despite how pointless it is in the end...still made you feel a little better. You were so soft that night, and so very limp. You had no strength for yourself I had to put a pillow under your head just to keep it up.
and you stood guard in case daddy wasn't doing his job
I can do my job!
what? now that's just outrageous. Tell him, Snowy, tell him I didn't try to hump the babies!
here is evidence from Cotton's photographic records:
when you grew to 3 weeks, I took you and your brother Fuzz out to a separate cage
and you were on your way to Manhood
a few weeks later, you and Fuzz moved into your official CC cage. Everything passed your inspection apart from the inappropriate choice of fleece pattern, apparently
there, you and Fuzz worked out your separate duties. You make sure the ceiling doesn't cave in, and Fuzz wheeks for food
you 2 boys always had some mischief up your sleeves
I know there's a woman in here somewhere, Fuzz. I can smell her!
and in case the director said no, you'll give him this pose:
Man of steel
Cotton, you were especially special because you reminded me indefinitely of your daddy.
the same sitting posture
...and the same vulnerable look when you're soppin' wet!
but that wasn't the only reason I loved you, I also cherished you for all the new things you brought to the table.
Such as how much more macho you looked. and how NOBODY ever mistakened you for a beautiful girl
memories of having you and Fuzz right next to us while we revise for the dreaded exams. You guys kept us sane those few weeks...
when we felt like pulling out our hair, all we did was glance at you two brother buddies.
ah, I always loved your little grey nose. Makes you look like a naughty boy whose been digging around in the dirt and how your head looks like a maple leaf in this photo.
Cotton...Cotton. Your life was bigger than life. After all I've written and reminisced, I can never bring you back. I miss you so, so much. I owe it to you so much, Cotton. Because while I made my peace with your Daddy's passing, for there was nothing to be done about a kidney stone...I know I can never make my peace with yours. There are no excuses; I have no excuse. I messed up, I neglected you. I didn't catch you when you fell, and by the time I found you, you were sick beyond saving.
When you made it through the whole night, I really had so much hope, I was thinking, if you made it through the night, then now all you need is to hang in another hour while we get to the doctor's, and then they'll put you on Sub Q and save you, and before we know it, you'll be bouncing around like our good old Cotton again. Smiling back at me, snuggling up against Snowy and just....enjoying life in your mellow ways. You and Fuzz are so different, Felix and I would sit there observing you two brothers just going about your ways. Fuzz is the big chunky one, and he'd shamelessly knock you out of his way as he hogs the water bottle, and you will just stand there politely and wait, maybe take a stroll around the cage and come back to see if it's your turn yet. what, not yet? Okay.
You were so mellow...and mild. So gentle and sweet. Sweet, that is the first word that springs to mind when I think of you. You'd lean right against me as I hug you and although your fur makes me itch the most, you also make me swoon the most with a flick of that hair!
I'm sorry Cotton..I can never say that to you enough. I'm sorry Puffy...I let you down. I didn't keep my promise, I screwed up. I really was sick, but I just didn't know you were sick too, Cotton. I'm sorry I was too late...that I couldn't save you. Thank you, thank you for being so strong for me, thank you for hanging on through the night even when you really couldn't...thank you for being the only Cotton in my life.
Hi Guinea Lynx,
I am Serena's little brother, Felix. I just wish to say that, what happened with Cotton yesterday, I think has impacted me the most.
That morning at 8:00 am in the morning, we left the house to bring Cotton to the vets, as we noticed that he wasn't very well the previous day. I gave him a warm bottle of water to keep him from any coldness, and as I did it, I could see that he did not feel very well and that made me feel very bitter.
As we left the house I wondered how well it would be after Cotton has recovered from his unknown sickness. On the train I dived back into the memories of Cotton when he was a baby guinea pig, no larger than a hamster, and soft as a cotton ball. I remembered and enjoyed these memories, as they kept me eager to see him healthy again and mild as usual.
During the train ride to the vets, I carried him with me in a pet bag and walked as slowly and gently as I could because it reflected his personalities as one of my favorite guinea pigs. I did not look at him much as I wanted him to rest well. Then I decided to check on him to see how he was holding up. I opened the bag and looked at him closely.
Something was not right.
I took another look, this time deeper and closer. I finally noticed that he was not breathing, as it occurred to me his body was completely still. I did not want to take his body fully out of the bag he was lying in, as there were a lot of people around not because I was embarrassed(Since animals were not allowed in the station), but because I did not want anyone to laugh at him. This was because his gentle and soft body collapsed on my arm. I stared at him, and in a way, his sweet little face stared back. An explosion of rage and sadness filled me as I soon realized that he has passed away, departured on his journey to the rainbow bridge. But I showed no sign of it, as I did not want to attract any attention around me.
This discovery squeezed a tear out of my eye. Eventually I managed to recover my sense and immediately when I got to the vets, the doctor told me that cotton has indeed passed away and that there was nothing that he could do. I brought Cotton out of the vets and took him home. Here I am sitting in front of the computer, shaking and crying as I write this memorial, not something I thought I would be doing until at least another five years later.
I think back again to the first second I saw Cotton, which was nine months ago when my sister told me to close my eyes and put out my hands. A furry ball was put into my palms and I opened my eyes to see tiny and mild Cotton sitting there. How he never ran from me every time I came close to the cage to pick him up while other pigs did. My sister always told me that was a bad sign, and that it was only good when the pig was alert and runs meters away.
Whatever happens I hope Cotton may rest in peace and make his journey to the rainbow bridge safe and happy and healthy.
Rest in peace, dear Cotton.