• Member Since 24th Apr, 2012
  • offline last seen Sunday

Wise Cracker


Just some guy, who likes animated stuff. That's about it.

More Blog Posts294

  • Friday
    Valt the Wonder Deer: Yay or Neigh?

    First things first: still working on the Bastion trilogy. All three stories are outlined, first one's got a rough draft, but needs finetuning. Oneshot ideas are shot down, because they need to be expanded into episode-style plots. I'm going to try and think of something quick to publish, but it's taking me longer than usual, so my apologies for that. :fluttershysad:

    Read More

    0 comments · 24 views
  • 8 weeks
    Happy New Year, Everyone.

    More things are being worked on, other things need to be caught up on. Not much change since previous blog post. Probably going to minimise author feedback from now on, for personal and already mentioned reasons.

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    0 comments · 18 views
  • 25 weeks
    Update on pony and spoilers. (Spoiler-free, obviously)

    So, Niko fic is mostly done, I have a rough first draft that's got the stuff in it I wanted, all except the ending and epilogue. It ended up being a little bit too telly and drama-y than I'd have wanted, but hey. It's a fanfic of a Christmas-based franchise, I won't publish it until December at least, I have time to finish up.

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    0 comments · 74 views
  • 32 weeks
    Bit of a nervous wreck at the moment.

    Hardly got any sleep, heart pounding like crazy, don't get me started on the side effects of that.

    It's been a very tiring couple of weeks, job talks here, job talks there, no stop.

    So yeah, Niko fic is experiencing huge delays as a result. Had a beer to try and calm down, did help slow down the heart, doesn't help the head.

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    5 comments · 70 views
  • 34 weeks
    Plans for the Summer, and a Pondering on Fandoms.

    An update to prevent any worrying, and to line up everything scattered throughout previous blogs first.

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    2 comments · 82 views
Oct
1st
2015

The Story of Spock, the Crazy Cavy · 8:10pm Oct 1st, 2015

As promised, here’s the story of our recently dearly departed pet, Spock the guinea pig. There’ll be two parts to this. This first one will be about his life story. I’m sharing this in case anyone wants to write about guinea pigs or needs some inspiration for a different pet-related story. Maybe it’ll be of some use.

Let’s start from the beginning.

In the Spring of 2006, a friend of my sister’s had a pregnant guinea pig on her hands, and it was agreed one of the pups would go to us. We’ve had guinea pigs before, both of them had lived full lives and died without a lot of warning or drama (some, but not a lot), my dad’s always had fish in the house (in aquariums, that is, obviously), but we’d been cavy-less for a while. Both my sister and my father are very fond of the critters, I’m rather partial to them myself but I prefer not to get too close, for reasons I’ll get into in part two. Suffice to say, getting a new guinea pig, and one from a young age, no less, sounded fun at the time.

Spock did not come into our family without any obstacles. His mother died shortly after giving birth, for starters, meaning he and his siblings had to be bottle-fed. My sister helped, I wasn’t there for that. When the pups were of the acceptable size and age, we were going to get a female. Yes, we thought we were going to get a female cavy.

We thought wrong. One of her siblings apparently jumped on her, killing her instantly. So we got another one.

Wondering why I said Spock had an interesting life story? We’re pretty sure we ended up with the murderer.


Dundunduun!

Not that he was ill-tempered, mind you: when we first got him, he quickly made a home of his cage, hiding in the comfort of the little wooden den when things got scary for him. Which, initially, was all the freaking time. Removing that wooden box, leaving him exposed to the house, save for the bars, helped acclimate him to his new family.

He responded by running around in circles, hard enough to scatter wood shavings through the bars of his cage and onto the floor around it. But no matter: we didn’t condemn this behaviour, he was, after all, a scared little pup. We just used the old dust buster to suck up any mess around his cage.

At which point the noise would startle him and he’d make an even bigger blast radius around said cage.

So that’s when my family got him the plastic box instead. Just that: big plastic thing, the only bars on it were at the top, like a lid. He could run all he wanted, it wouldn’t scatter anything past his box, and to top it off, he couldn’t make any noise like that.

Now, for those who are not familiar with guinea pigs or cavies, there’s a few things you should know. Guinea pigs are typically considered to not be very bright. You don’t teach them tricks, they don’t outsmart their owners or manipulate them. They’re not at the level of, say, dogs and cats when it comes to pulling their owners’ strings. Cavies are, in comparison to more conventional pets, kind of like sheep: pretty dumb creatures overall.

Unless they are motivated with food. Then they turn into rocket surgeons.

One thing Spock’s predecessors tended to do when begging for food was to gnaw at the bars of their cage. You’d think that’s the sort of random exploratory thing they eventually grow out of, but oh no, they all figured out very quickly that if they gnawed at a particular place (the doorway to the cage) and a particular angle, they could maximise the amount of noise produced. Not only that, but they were smart enough to know that if they did this at a particular time, say, while my dad was trying to watch the news, they could cause enough of a disruption to get more food, just to shut them up.

Now, Spock did not have the luxury of getting bars to gnaw on. The best he could do was to try and scratch on the plastic walls. There was, quite simply, no place for his teeth to get a grip on. And he was well-fed, so he didn’t need to make much of a fuss anyhow.

At least, that’s what we thought. But, again, we thought wrong, as Mister Rocket Surgeon quickly found the weakness in the structure. He may have been a Velociraptor in a previous life.

There was one spot where he could gnaw to make a noise, just one: the edge of the plastic that the bars of the lid were placed on. By all accounts, he shouldn’t have been able to ever reach that, unless he somehow pushed himself up to stand on his hind feet and stretched out.

So it was that for several years, I’d be woken up in the middle of the night to sounds of *scratchscratchSCRUNCHSCRUNCHSCRUNCH* “Spock, be quiet!” when my dad would go to the bathroom, worse than any of his predecessors had ever been. See, my room was pretty close to the guinea pig box, closest bedroom in the house, in fact. If someone came home late and Spock decided he was hungry, I was the first person to know, not the person entering. That guinea pig ran a frigging toll booth for years.

Standing on their hind legs like that is not healthy for a guinea pig, nor is consuming copious amounts of plastic. So we thought this hyperactive little monster wasn’t going to live very long.

Once again, we thought wrong.

Spock soon learned the ins and outs of how to best go about getting what he wanted. If my dad should pass by, scratch on the plastic and gnaw away, that always worked. If my parents should leave on a holiday, and he’d only have me to rely on, a simple ‘Wheek! Wheek!” would suffice. And oh, he knew the difference. As dumb as cavies are supposed to be, they’re smart enough to recognise the sound of the fridge being opened. They can tell the difference between different cars in the driveway, or at least know that one car contains a person who will feed them while the other does not. They know what you are eating, and will demand a tithe if that happens to include apples, cucumbers, or chicory. Once they raise up their little radars of noses, you can be ten paces away, slicing cucumbers in the kitchen, they will know, and they will demand their share.

We figured he wouldn’t last long because he was so hyperactive at first. He continued to be very active through most of his life, standing on his hind legs and gnawing away at the plastic to make lots of noise. So you’d think he’d cause us less stress when he was quiet, and you’d be wrong.

See, Spock liked to sleep on his side most of the time. With his eyes shut like that, body limp and stretched out, he looked dead. So we’d frequently accidentally wake him up because we thought he’d already passed away. And, of course, he’d demand food for compensation of his disturbed peace, fuzzy little extortionist.

This is what he was like when he was alive, and in his prime. Woe unto you and your eardrums if you woke him up when he was like this.

When something startled him, he wouldn’t freeze, oh no, that’s what normal guinea pigs do. He’d jump, all four feet off the ground, turn in mid-air, and land facing whatever threat he thought was coming to get him. And he would wheek and rumble, as the situation demanded.

One weird thing, though: on the wiki page the sounds cavies make seem a little off. There’s a rumblesqueak they’re supposed to make that means they’re enjoying themselves, and a pure rumble that’s a sign of dominance, or means they’re scared or angry. Based on my personal experience, the sounds are switched. Both he and his predecessors would let off a low rumble when they were fed and petted, and a higher-pitched one when they were just taken out and petted and hugged and whatnot.

Anyway, eventually the gnawing ceased, partly because in his old age dear Spock couldn’t reach up high enough to gnaw at the plastic, and partly because he’d been at it for so long the plastic was entirely gone on one end. He still tried, though, and he scratched on the walls as much as he could, but eventually he’d just ‘wheek!’ for food and even start to rumblepurr at the mere sight of someone passing him by. That may be because I always petted him when I fed him, waiting for him to make that noise as ‘thanks’. Maybe there was some Pavlovian conditioning involved there. Either that or he really was an extortionist, and that was just his evil laugh. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Then, one day, we found he’d lost a lot of weight all of a sudden. My dad thought Spock’s final hour had arrived, because the little guy wasn’t eating as much dry food pellets as he usually was. Spock was knocking on Death’s door. I said to maybe try giving him apple slices, which he chowed down very eagerly. The next day, I was home alone with Spock, and I tried giving him some grated carrots. That went down well, too.

Turns out he just wasn’t eating as much because he had a tooth problem. Crisis averted, Death opened the door to find no guinea pig.

Then came the next crisis: the lameness. Spock started dragging the right half of his body, like he was paralysed. My dad thought the cavy had had a heart attack. I did a little checking on the interwebs, suggested we give him parsley to maybe fix an ion imbalance. Still, dad said Spock was dying. Again, the little guy was knocking on Death’s door.

Upon closer inspection, though, the more likely explanation was that, since Spock was so fond of sleeping on one side, that side would still be asleep when he woke up. He didn’t drag his right half all the time, just after waking up. He stopped dragging after eating some more greens, only did that after napping, he still rumbled happily and ate well. He lived. Another crisis averted. No cavy on Death’s porch.

A tip for any aspiring cavy owners out there: get enough greens, especially when the guinea pig gets older. It might look like they're sick and dying because they don't eat their food, but they can get picky in their old age. Teeth don't get the job done like they used do. Tender stuff can extend their lifespan.

But, of course, Spock had lost a lot of weight in a very short time, and he was weakened. And while I can’t quite recall the timeframes of what happened before, I can give the exact dates for what followed.

Leading up to his final days, Spock really did stop moving one side of his body. He still ate, he still rumble-purred in approval or evil laughter as before. But then about a week before 'it' happened, he stopped doing even that. My dad cleaned out his box on the morning of the 19th of September, 2015. At that point, Spock was over nine years old. And, as I’ve said before, that’s not old like Uncle Iroh, that’s old like King Bumi.

Spock hardly moved when my dad put him outside. The little cavy made a point of keeping his rump up high, like his groin hurt, and he bit my mom when she tried to feed him little bits of carrot.

Now, the reason my dad cleaned out his box then was because he and my mom were leaving on a five-day holiday, and I never cleaned out his box, because of reasons. My sister had moved out some time ago, so I’d be home alone with Spock, again. Now, as it happened, there was a thing going on at my college that day, which I attended with my sister. We got home around 23.00, ate a very late dinner, and then she checked up on her pet. That's the 'it' that sealed the deal.

Some of the following is kept concealed for some graphic descriptions. If you are close to eating, or are squeamish in general, I suggest you either wait to unspoiler this or just take my word for it that things went sour for Spock then. If you're planning to write about pet care and you need possible emergencies... well, this might interest you.

So she checked Spock, which included checking his lower belly. One of the ailments of old age was that he couldn’t defecate properly anymore, and little pellets would get stuck halfway. But that night, she also noticed a worm-like thing falling away when she checked him. And then another, and then another.

She tried to show me, but I looked away. Dumb thing to do, because I’m sure I’m remembering it being worse than it actually was because of it. Regardless, Spock’s lower belly was crawling with worms, little white wriggling things that were obviously causing him distress. My sister asked me how many there might be (since, you know, I went to college for that sort of thing), I said thousands, if it’s an intestinal worm. Obviously that was also dumb of me, because more than likely there’d only be one or two. I was thinking of the amount of eggs.

So she washed off what worms she could, but Spock’s groin area had been inflamed for a few days, so that did not go over well with him. Now, at that point, I was too tired and distracted by things to think clearly. Otherwise I might have realised what the local vet confirmed when my sister rang her up.

Spock was not suffering from intestinal worms making their way out. Those were maggots, eating their way in. He was being eaten alive, the folds of his thighs first.

Mind you, this wasn't that big of a shock. We have a sheep owner in the family, and he has to deal with that sort of thing at times, too. Doesn't make it any less disgusting or horrifying, though.

Now, another thing you might not know about guinea pigs is that beneath that fluffy, cute wheeking exterior, there beats the heart of a rodent bad-ass. Guinea pigs apparently evolved to hide any weaknesses from predators. They don’t whine or cry out when something is wrong with them. If you’re a guinea pig owner and they get sick, the only real warning you get is that they stop eating. They don’t show anything otherwise, they don’t beg for help like a cat or dog might. So if my sister hadn’t caught it when she had, that would have been the end of Spock. A horrible fate, to say the least. And no, I wouldn’t have caught it myself, because I never checked his belly (again, I’ll get to that point later). That was all on my sister.

That was a Saturday night. Dad had told us, before he left, to take Spock to the vet soon. He'd gone from a little worrisome to almost dead in little over half a day. Spock almost died that Saturday night. Knocking on Death’s door, but just managed to duck away when He opened up. I imagine Death was getting a little annoyed at this point.

Monday morning at the vet’s, couple of things got explained. The inflammation around the groin was due to lack of activity, more specifically Spock had urine burn, and that’s why he started lying sideways so far his hind legs were up in the air: he wasn't paralysed from the waist down, like we'd thought, he was doing that on purpose to stop the stinging. Some flies must have laid eggs in his droppings and hatched close enough to his fur to go for it. They’d only eaten away some fur, though, no blood drawn. If they'd gotten blood, the infection would have killed him, pretty much.

The reason he couldn’t defecate normally was simply because he was so old: the muscles wouldn’t work properly anymore.

The vet said Spock was probably not going to last very long, a month or two, max. He was an old cavy, and you can’t make a new one out of that.

So, my sister, like a real trooper, thought inside the chimney and lined his box with mattress protectors, like the ones for people with incontinence. This helped keep him comfy. She also washed him twice a week. Well, for one week, at least.

Despite our best efforts, Spock did deteriorate. He gorged himself on chicory, carrot, cucumber, hay, anything we gave him, one last time, he rumbled again in approval, started getting more active again, and then he started to let go. He didn’t so much stop moving his body as he did stop moving to different places. What would happen is he’d try to move, but only manage to drag his body over the wood shavings, leaving him in his own little crater. That’s how he’d gotten the urine burn in the first place: digging out the wood shavings and lying there in his own wastes. The burn itself was causing him more discomfort when he moved, most likely because the lack of food had also led to a vitamin C deficiency. Trying to wash him drew blood now, apparently. I wasn’t nearby when that happened.

He went down, and he stayed down for a few days. Just that, down.

By the end of his life, the once proud and plump Spock was reduced to fur and bones. His breath was normal over the course of a few days, then slowed once and stayed slow, and on September 30th his body temperature started dropping around late morning, noonish. Trying to feed him didn’t work: even the chicory he managed to take a singular bite of got stuck halfway down his throat. The muscles giving away had spread to his swallowing reflex, apparently. He hadn’t drank anything in four days or so, either, he batted his head against the bottle when we offered it to him. Guess he didn’t want us to think he was a baby. When my sister left around 10.30, 11.00-ish, she left him covered in hay, since it looked like he was moving to try to hide in it with what little strength he had left, find a good deathbed, so to speak. His movement was more like splashing and nuzzling than anything else, to be honest. He managed to twist and turn in his hay coverings, still, but to what end, one can only guess.

Oh, and he was making a weird snoring noise when petted. I've heard the term 'deathrattle', but it's more of a creaking, really. Kind of like the crunch of snow under shoes, but faster, in time with the breath. His eyes were sunken, too, but they had been for a while, because he’d lost a lot of fat in his face.

I went up to my room around 19.00, 19.30, and I gave him a little pet, like I’d made a habit of. His body was cold, but he was still breathing. I went back down at 21.00, to see what the folks would be watching on TV that night, and when I petted him, no response. No breath, no blinking when I tried to close his eyes.

He was buried that very night, with some stones on top of the site to stop any local cats or foxes from digging him up.

And that was the end of that. The end of Spock, Eater of Prisons, Raider of Fridges, all-round a Crazy Cavy.

I wonder if he apologised to Death for all that trolling in those final days. I’d wager not, considering how that cavy had no problem pulling similar stunts in his life. I'm sure his sister had a few choice words for him in the afterlife.

Anyway, this is for the writers on the site to use, to maybe spice up some story or other. I don’t know how useful it is, but, you know, I did quite like Spock even if he wasn’t my pet. The part of me that loves animals doesn't want to think about the pain he may have suffered. The part of me that's a writer doesn't want his story to go to waste. I can see what Grant Morrisson was talking about now, when he gave that lecture to Buddy. At the very least, someone can use this as a reference for the timeframes, maybe add a little more realism to a story about a heavy topic. Spock was strange, by guinea standards. Now bits of his story are out there, do with that what you will.

The next part will be entirely for my own benefit.

Report Wise Cracker · 244 views · #Pets #Loss
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Comments ( 3 )

Thanks for sharing. I've had guinea pigs before but he sounds like he was a real character.

3434886
He was. Nippy little fellow, too.

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