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Shadow the Guinea Pig

Wednesday, our sweet little family pet, Shadow the guinea pig, died. Calfgrit8 is heartbroken.

Back in mid 2011, CG8 started talking about wanting a guinea pig. He checked out guinea pig books from the library to learn about them and how to care for them, and he started saving up money to buy one from the pet store. We agreed that if he saved up enough for the pet, we’d help him with buying the house/cage. He was so excited when he finally had enough money saved up in his bank.

In November 2011, we took him to Petsmart. He picked out a cute little black guinea pig with some white and brown patches.

Shadow the Guinea Pig

We all picked out a nice cage for him, and gathered up all the bedding and food necessary for a healthy pet. Calfgrit8 named his little guy, Shadow.

From his books, he knew all about guinea pigs and how to care for them. He did a fairly good job of keeping the little guy fed and watered. And although Wifegrit did most of the big cleaning of the cage, CG8 did help as he could. (The cage was nearly as big as he.) For almost two years, Shadow was a part of this family. His cage was in the loft area, central to all the upstairs rooms and activity.

Shadow the Guinea Pig

We built a moderate-sized running area out of a big cardboard box, and CG8 created little obstacles out of shoe boxes and cardboard scraps. Every few days, and while cleaning his cage, CG8 or Wifegrit would put him down in the run for exercise. He loved having more room to wander around. And apparently he loved chewing the cardboard.

When all was quiet, we could hear him moving about in his cage, hear him drinking water, and occasionally he made adorable little squeaks. And when in his run, you’d hear the pitter of his little clawed feet running this way and that over and through the obstacles.

He loved Calfgrit8 as much as my little boy loved him. When CG8 was away for an extended period, visiting grandparents or off on a sleepover at a friend’s house, when CG8 came home and went upstairs, that little guinea pig would squeak to get his attention. He’d also squeak for Wifegrit. (Who doesn’t love Wifegrit?)

Almost two years with us. Then Tuesday, we noticed he wasn’t eating or drinking. Tuesday night I was sent to the grocery store to pick up a cucumber, (Shadow’s favorite vegetable), to try to entice him to eat something. But even placing his favorite food in front of him, he just wouldn’t eat. It was decided that Wifegrit would take him to the vet the next day.

Wednesday morning, the vet diagnosed Shadow had a respiratory infection. She gave the little guy some medicine at the appointment, and gave instructions on how to care for him to help him recover. But then that evening, about 5:00, Calfgrit12, big brother, called me.

“Hi Dad,” he said, sadness in his voice. I could hear crying in the background. “I don’t want to ruin your day, but we think Shadow is dead.”

“Oh no!” I said. “I’m on my way home right now.”

It was that quick. He went from seeming normal one day, not eating the next day, to passed away one day later. When I got home, the crying was over, and everyone was in bed with Wifegrit watching some cartoons. They were trying to get past the sadness. I found Shadow laying still in his cage. I petted him gently and felt his stiff, cool, little furry body. Awe man. That sucks. He was such a sweet little thing.

We all talked about what we needed to do. Calfgrit8 wanted him to be buried in the backyard, under a tree. I scooped little Shadow up, placed him on a paper towel, and took him out to the backyard. It took me several minutes to dig a grave through all the roots and rocks under the tree. Both boys came out to watch over Shadow while I dug. At last I had a hole big enough. The boys watched as I carefully lowered the pet into the grave, and then they left so as to not watch me shovel dirt on him. When digging the hole, I scooped up a small pine tree sapling in a big chunk of dirt. I made sure that marked the spot when I covered the hole up. With luck, that little sprig will grow as a marker for Shadow.

Wow, this all happened so fast. Just out of the blue. We lost a very sweet pet that our 8 year old son really loved. Over the past couple of days, he’s had a few sad moments. One time he just went from happy to crying, putting his head in his hands, sobbing, “My guinea pig died!”

Today he’s talked about wanting another guinea pig, which he’d name Shadow II.


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