I’ll never forget the day I brought Kirby home in January 2008. He was 3 months old and so tiny. I knew nothing about Guinea pigs but I did know that I was ecstatic and willing to learn about this beautiful creature.
I bought a book about Guinea pigs – yes, I’m “old fashioned.” I prefer to do research with real books. I read it front to back as I studied my new little guy’s habits and movements.
I had the works for Kirby. A nice big cage with colorful chewing blocks and everything he needed. I even got him a separate playpen so he could run around outside of his cage. I remember the first night I saw him “popcorn.” Kirby was running laps around his playpen, jumping up and down in the process. I learned quickly that this activity is known as “popcorning” in the Guinea pig world. Wow. It was so cute!
Kirby’s veggie of choice was carrots. On top of his timothy hay and food, he LOVED carrots more than anything. I tried to give him many other delicious snacks, but he always stuck to his carrots. So I’d buy him full size carrots, mini carrots and everything in between. I can’t even imagine how many bags of carrots I’ve bought in the last 6 years.
Kirby was with me through everything. Moves, breakups, tough transitions. He always hung in there with me. When I would come home, he’d squeak, and squeak and squeak because he was so happy to see me and he knew it was time for carrots! I’ll always remember how adorable it was and how happy it made me.
When I brought my cat Edison home in 2010, he was just a kitten. He was no more than 8 weeks old and about the same size as Kirby. I introduced the boys so Edison would learn that Kirby is not prey. Not only did it totally work, but they got so close, that I would leave Kirby’s cage open and Edison would hop in to sleep with him. I wish I had a better camera for photos back then. It was such a cool bond those two had.
The years went on and Kirby stuck in there with me. I would take him to the exotic pet doctor for a yearly exam and for nail trims every couple months. Dr. Funk is the veterinarian’s name. Yes, no joke. And he’s absolutely incredible. He sees reptiles, birds and small animals.
Dr. Funk always loved Kirby. He was always happy to see us, although Kirby was probably not always thrilled to see him. This past year, we noticed that Kirby was starting to lose weight. Dr. Funk called him “an ancient piggy” and agreed that he was losing muscle mass just as old people do. Although Kirby’s exercise and eating habits were on par, he was still losing weight.
I started to take Kirby in to see the doctor every 2 months by last summer. By November, Dr. Funk said that Kirby was still healthy. He hadn’t lost anymore weight, which was great. But he had also turned 6 years old and a Guinea pig’s life span is 5-7 years.
After Christmas, I noticed Kirby’s health started to decline. Despite having an entire room to run around in (I stopped keeping him in a cage) Kirby would mostly lay in his cage that I kept on the floor. I still had the same cage for him that he had known for all these years, but I left the top off so he’d climb in and out as he pleased. I put his food in the cage everyday since it was his comfort spot.
But now, Kirby mainly stayed in the cage. He was a lot less active and started eating less. Within the last 2 weeks, I noticed that Kirby hadn’t left his cage at all. He would maybe eat one of the carrots, then slowly munch on the others or not eat them at all.
When I came back from Georgia this past weekend, I knew I needed to take him to the vet because something wasn’t right. I was in denial until I laid down on the floor with him yesterday. I filled his food bowl and began to pet his head, as he loved so much. This time though, I noticed his eyes were watering. It almost looked like he was crying. I began to pet his entire body and wipe his tears away. He didn’t even flinch, which was very odd for him.
Frantic and crying, I called the vet. They had an opening almost immediately. As I laid on the floor with my piggy, I just continued to pet him and cry. I had a feeling he wouldn’t be coming home with me.
Matt drove us to the vet. By the time we arrived, I knew it was time for Kirby to go. I just knew it. Call it mother’s intuition.
We were escorted to a room, where I explained to the vet tech what was going on. I asked her not to weigh Kirby, as I didn’t want to stress him out. I opened Kirby’s carrier and I began to pet him. With soft, gentle strokes, I began speaking out loud to Kirby.
“It’s okay to go. Mommy’s with you. God will take care of you. Mommy will be fine. It’s okay to go.”
As I cried deeply, Kirby whimpered. I kept talking to him, petting him and praying out loud for his comfort.
Then all of a sudden, Kirby jumped from his carrier on the vet table, into my lap. I could tell he was struggling. I held him at my chest and never stopped talking to him or petting him. He then decided to jump to Matt’s lap. He could barely move at this point. I was crying so badly, I could barely breathe. Kirby squirmed and made his way into my lap. I adjusted him and told Matt that this was it. As I sat there petting Kirby, Dr. Funk walked in.
“He’s dying, he’s dying!” I exclaimed.
:”Okay, let me listen to his heart beat.” Dr. Funk leaned down to my lap to get Kirby’s heart beat.
At that moment, Kirby took his last breath. Dr. Funk hesitated before saying, “I’m so sorry, I can’t find a heart beat. He’s passed.” He listened again to be sure. I lost it.
My piggy, laying lifeless in my lap, was gone. Within two hours of realizing something was extremely wrong with Kirby, he had passed away.
This was unbelievable. I was in shock. Kirby was waiting for me. He heard me talking to him. He wanted to pass in my arms where he belonged. He waited until I was ready.
What an amazing spiritual experience. I am so devastated, but it honestly couldn’t have happened in a better way. Kirby died naturally, peacefully, surrounded by love and in my arms. There’s no greater blessing than that.
We opted for a private cremation so I can get Kirby’s ashes back. Kirby lived a long life with me. I gave him the best life I could and I know it was a good one. He was one happy pig and at the end I realized how much he really did love me.
As I sit here in tears, I remember all of our good times together. During Kirby’s final minutes on this earth, I did thank him for everything he did for me. I thanked him for the good memories and for being such an incredible son.
I know you are flying with the angels, my dearest Kirby. I love you, I miss you and I will see you again one day.
Rest in peace, my son.
10.1.08 – 1.23.15