Thursday, October 10, 2013

Good-Bye My Furry Little Friend

My heart is broken. I lost my sweet little Rock-man today. I brought him home in a cardboard box when he was 12 weeks old. I was so excited! I had wanted a chinchilla for years and he was my first (and only) one. Little did I know I would have him for 15 years. Average lifespan is usually around 10 yrs so for him to live an additional 5 yrs beyond that is very unusual. 

Fifteen years. That's a long time to have any pet. As all pet lovers know you get quite attached. Some people may think you can't possibly get attached to a small caged animal. I am here to tell you that indeed you can love them just as much as you would love a cat or dog. They have their own personalities and some are just so fun to watch with their crazy antics.

Rocky was a little sweetie. He NEVER bit. Never even tried. Not once in all the time I had him. He loved his belly, ears and chin scratched. He loved banana chips, raisins and cashews. He loved his little stuffed guinea pig toy. He liked to chew on his wood blocks. He liked to antagonize the cats when they got too close to his cage. He would run in his wheel at night and make so much noise running and jumping around in his cage that we would have to close the bedroom door so we could sleep (he had a rather large 4' three tier wire cage so there was a lot of running going on). He liked when I put him in the bathroom so he could run and jump around in there while I cleaned his cage. After I would sit in there with him so he could use me as his personal jungle gym. 

Though he looked soft and cuddly, he didn't like being held but he was very friendly and I could pet him all I wanted as long as I didn't try to pick him up and cuddle him.

That changed this past week. I noticed a little over a week ago that he had lost weight. A lot of weight. You couldn't tell by looking at him because of all the fur, but underneath it I could feel his ribs and backbone. Not a good sign. I also noticed he hadn't touched his food for a few days. At first I thought he was showing signs of getting old and was pretty sure he was near his time. Unfortunately, I was proved right. 

I did notice some other signs and when I looked them up online it actually sounded like he might be having teeth problems ( I won't get into all the technical details here) because he was having those types of symptoms. The only thing I could get him to eat was banana chips and cashews but just eating those weren't very good for him either.

It soon got to the point that seeing him suffer was breaking my heart. I couldn't do it anymore. I was not being a good caretaker if I just let him go on suffering so I decided to take him to the vet. Some people might say it's crazy to take a small caged animal to the vet (yes there are a lot of people that only think cats and dogs are worthy of a vet bill) but I don't think so. Did I mention I had him for 15 yrs--well to me I loved him just as much as I love any one of our cats and he deserved the same treatment as I would give them--so off to the vet.

I won't lie: I did not see rainbows and unicorns when I took him in. I knew it was either A) his teeth and they could file them down or B) he was old and it was time. Trust me, I was hoping it was "A". The vet looked all in his mouth and couldn't find anything wrong with his teeth, no redness, etc. He didn't want to sedate him because of his age. He was honest with me and told me that it could be something internal and they could run blood tests but he was 15 yrs old so...well, you get the picture.

I was prepared for this outcome but that doesn't mean it hurts less. It hurts. It hurts a lot. I made the decision to have my little Rock-man put down. I hated doing it and it broke my heart but I could not bring him home when he wouldn't of gotten any better and he basically would've starved until he finally passed away. That was too cruel and I just couldn't bear to do that or watch that so I do not feel guilty about my decision. I think he knew it was his time too because for the first time he let me hold him and cuddle him which I did as often as possible this past week.  

I know I made the best decision for him. But I will miss him so very very much. He brought me great joy for 15 yrs and I know I took the best care of him I could for those years (and maybe that's why he lived longer than he should have) so I know he was a happy little guy and I hope he knows how much I loved him.