Farewell Daisy

Yesterday evening we came home from a lovely birthday meal for my mum and I sadly found our lovely guinea pig, Daisy, had unexpectedly died.

It had been an enjoyable meal, which had been marred by a rare argument between my younger two kids. They were so upset with each other that they insisted on travelling home separately. When we got home, my daughter went straight upstairs to her bed, in tears.  My eldest went straight outside to work on a crazy boyish project  and me, my husband and parents all followed him out there. I noticed that Daisy was very still.

I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that I’ve panicked on seeing a guinea pig still. I usually just make a noise, even as small as unlocking the patio door, to disturb them and to reassure myself that they’re OK. I approached the cage, but she didn’t move. Unusual. I undid the door, but she didn’t move. Unusual. I put my hand in and touched her. And she didn’t move.

Daisy always moves. You put your hand anywhere near her and she runs.

There was no movement. No breath. Nothing.

I can’t quite remember what I said, but my eldest came over to check. He touched her, then picked her up and held her. He agreed with me.

We couldn’t believe it.

Ironically, it was Eric who had given us a scare only two days earlier. I’d got him out of his hutch and he was making a strange noise when he breathed. We got him an emergency appointment at the vet and it turned out there was a small stick trapped behind his front teeth that was making the noise. The relief I felt when I knew he was OK was overwhelming. It’s the same as the relief when an ill child finally gets better. I love my guinea pigs, but I surprised even myself at what an impact it had on me. We’d kept a careful eye on him for the rest of that day and the following day.

Yesterday had been showery. Guinea pigs don’t like being on wet grass and they don’t like being out in the rain, so we hadn’t got them out of the hutch. It hadn’t been my turn to feed them, so I hadn’t noticed anything unusual with Daisy. But apparently, in the late afternoon, my husband and eldest had heard a squeal of distress from the hutch. My son had checked the guinea pigs and was satisfied they were both OK. Just three hours later, I found Daisy dead.

Daisy, Guinea pig, Pet, Death of a pet

My younger son was just inside the house and he’d overhead us.

‘Daisy, dead?’

And he howled in pain and distress. Crying like I’d never heard before.

Ironically, my younger son is the one who cared least about the guinea pigs. The one who moaned the most about feeding and cleaning them. The one who refused to hold them. The one who said he’d never wanted them.

He refused to hold them because he was afraid to hurt them. He’d never wanted them because he’d been afraid of them dying and afraid of being upset. And it had happened. And he was upset.

There was still one person we had to tell.

My younger son and I went upstairs to tell my daughter, still crying from her argument with her brother. She thought he’d come to say sorry or to have another go at her. She hardly heard what we were saying at first. Her mind was elsewhere. Then she got it.

‘Daisy? No. NO!’

And she cried even worse than her brother had cried. And the three of us stood and hugged each, all thoughts of their pointless argument forgotten.

She was devastated. She couldn’t stop crying. She didn’t know what she was going to do. Suddenly she remembered that Daisy was ‘her’ guinea pig – the one she had chosen. The one she had named. Daisy was male, the alpha male in fact. But, due to the fact that my daughter had given her a female name, we always called him ‘her’.

To be honest, the kids were a little afraid of Daisy. Daisy was a nibbler who nibbled at your clothes as soon as you picked her up. There were a few times when she had nibbled so hard that it had hurt, although that hadn’t happened for well over a year now. But I loved her. She was feisty. She had a lot more personality that Eric, who is lovely and calm and docile.

With my daughter in bits, we did the only thing we could do. We gave her Eric to hold. She sat there holding him, as tears streamed down her face.

While the younger kids were crying, the menfolk – my husband, dad and eldest – were being practical. They had put Daisy’s body in a shoe box (we have a huge collection of shoe boxes because the guinea pigs love to play in them). My dad had thoroughly cleaned the water bottle and bowl. They had discussed where we would bury her.

I gave the hutch a really good clean. My eldest begged to hold Eric, but my daughter wouldn’t give him up for ages. As night started to fall, it was time to bury Daisy. My daughter quibbled about whether she wanted to see her. She only looked asleep, but in the end she decided not to. She requested that she be buried with a carrot.

My eldest started to dig a deep hole in one of the flower beds. He had been brilliant in all of this. So often we see the bad sides of him, but this was all the best bits. He was mature and organised. He knew exactly what to do. He took charge. He protected his younger siblings from the worst of it all. I was so proud of him.

As my husband finished digging the hole, my eldest disappeared and I heard a strange, strangled cry from the house. He’d been holding it together, trying to be the man. He didn’t want us to see him cry. But it was a sad day for all of us. This is really the only loss my kids have ever experienced (I’m pleased to say). Of course it was going to hit them hard.

As the person who has done the most for the guinea pigs, I wanted to be the one who carried Daisy’s box to her grave and put it inside. I’d shed a few tears before. For Daisy. For Eric. For the kids. But, as I carried that box across the garden, I broke down. The younger kids were shocked and upset to see me crying and they cried again.

I put Daisy in her final resting place and carefully covered her with soil.

Now our priority was to keep Eric alive.

Farewell Daisy, our lovely guinea pig. Sleep well. We hope there are lots of carrots in guinea pig heaven.

Guinea pig, Pet, Silent Sunday, My Sunday Photo

Author: Sarah Mummy

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19 Comments

  1. Oh Sarah I am so sorry. You have had me in tears with this post, it is so beautifully written. I have also had to witness the pain of children dealing with the loss of a pet and it is hard. Sending love xxx

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    • Thank you! It’s very hard, but they are all a bit better this morning and focused on keeping Eric happy and healthy. x

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  2. Oh, I’m so sorry to read this. What a horrid shock for you all. We have been there twice and have just one of our three piggies left, she’s 8 now and I just dread finding her still. Big hugs and RIP Daisy. There’s a super book about g pigs and although it’s aimed at slightly younger kids we all got comfort from it. I’ll dig it out and let you know. Xx

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    • Thank you! So sorry to hear you’ve been through it too – it’s awful! 8 is an amazing age! I really hoped ours would live that long, but Daisy was only 2 🙁 Would be very interested to hear about the book, I’m sure my daughter would want to read it. All of the kids have been endlessly googling stuff. x

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  3. Oh I’m in tears with this. It’s so so sad to go through and I feel all of your pain. I’ve been through this and I cried like a baby for three days when Gibble died. My eldest son made me so proud too, in making the final decision that she was suffering too much and it was time to let the vet put her to sleep. It had to come from him. I can see Delphie, Gibble’s cage mate, slowing down and starting to look like an old lady and I’m dreading the inevitable. The devastating thing is seeing the one that’s left behind. Delphie now has a new cage mate who is 3 years younger but they love each other. Lots of extra cuddles for Eric. Ex

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    • Thank you! What a tough decision for your son to take. I know my eldest would be strong enough to take a decision like that, but my daughter just wouldn’t cope at all. So pleased to hear Delphie has a new friend. Our instinct is that Eric needs a new friend too. x

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      • I was in touch with a Guinea rescue centre nearish to where we live (Leeds) and she said to leave it a week or so after the death before trying to pair up. We then took Delphie along for play dates! No joke. Apparently it’s a complicated business involving neutral territory, lots of bum shaking and mounting hopefully eventually, making friends. It’s a good job too as she (being her usual firey red headed self) got in a strop with the first two introductions and, so not to stress her out, we came away empty handed. On a second attempt a week later, it looked like the same thing was going to happen again with her taking against the first two introductions! At the last minute, Joanne at the rescue centre, pulled out her trump card (I suspect she was hoping to keep this one for herself!) with a little black submissive fluff ball called Poppy. It wasn’t so much love at first sight but more of a mutual tolerance for each other. However, they’re best buddies now. Introducing guinea pigs can be tricky and if you can get an expert involved, I recommend it. What you don’t want is to be in a position where you have to split them up and get another cage. Ugh. It’s also quite exciting, once you have dealt with the heart break of losing one, to focus on the positive of getting a new piggy. Of course, Daisy will be looking down and keeping an eye on things for you. Ex

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        • Thank you! This is really interesting. I will have to see if there is anywhere nearby which does this. Eric is quite submissive himself, so I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult! Fingers crossed.

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  4. Awww I’m so sorry! We only have fish but I’ve looked after the school’s guinea pigs before and realise that they’ve got lovely little personalities and become part of the family. Huge hugs to you all.

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    • Thanks very much! They really do have lovely personalities.

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  5. Awwwww Sarah I am so sorry to hear about your beloved Daisy, I know how much you all loved her. It is nearly 2 years to the day since we watched our budgie die infront of us. Son and I were distraught, whilst daughter handled it far better than me. She planned the funeral for the following day, and even invited nana and granded round (no black, just wear bright colours). We still miss and talk about her now, even though we now have a new budgie. I did a little montage of pictures and put it in a frame for the kids to have in their bedrooms. It is so difficult and I can’t imagine how you are feeling, especially as it is so unexpected. Lots of hugs to you all, and also little Eric too xx

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    • Thanks very much! It’s nice that your budgie is still remembered after two years and I love that your daughter arranged a little ceremony for him.

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  6. Awww this post choked me up so much. I’m so sorry about Daisy, what a lovely Guinea pig. I hope you’re all a bit better today. (And very glad Eric is ok xx)

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    • Thank you! It choked me up writing it. I’m going to avoid reading it back now! We’re all a little bit better now and Eric seems OK. We’re still really on edge and checking him constantly. He must think we’ve all gone mad! x

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    • Thank you! It was such a shock, but we’re feeling a bit better now and focusing on keeping Eric healthy. x

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  7. So sorry to hear about this Sarah, it must have been such a shock to you all. Sending lots of hugs xxx

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