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August 19, 2004 - August 10,2008)
Gipper was picked up, after Dilbert died, as a companion for Chewy, and as a companion for myself as well. Gipper was my first Pound pig. I got him at the Milwaukee Humane Society. From the start, Gipper seemed like a hard luck pig. The shape of his eyes was funny, like something had happened to him at birth, and he was a bit on the small side. Eventually, other problems and complications would arise, and would shorten his life. The literature from the Humane Society advised that he had lived with children, and other guinea pigs. He was surrendered by the owners, due to too many pigs in the house. Despite his faults, Gipper ended up being a real gem. It showed, right from the start. Gipper was the name given to him by his previous owners. It fit, so I kept it as his name, usually calling him Gip, or Gipper Guy.
When I first saw Gipper, he was in a cage, in the small animal room of the Humane Society. Dilbert had recently died, and I needed a companion for my little buddy Chewy. It was love at first sight. When I first saw Gipper, he looked so much like my old friend Dilbert, that it was like seeing a ghost. A closer inspection showed some differences, particularly around the eyes; but he was the same breed, size and color of my recently departed little friend. It had only been a couple of days, since Dilbert's passing, and I was actually a bit choked up, and merely pointed to his cage, so much did he remind my of my old friend. A Humane Society staff member accompanied Gipper and I into a little interview room. As I filled out the paper work, Gipper stood up in his cage, and looked at me. When I opened to cage door, he put his front feet right on the edge, and stood on his hind legs, as if anxious to be invited out.
Of course, Gipper was not exactly like my old friend Dilbert had been - he was his own pig. Gipper was jet black, compared to Dilbert's black and dark brown. Latter, Gipper's coat got some random streaks of brown and even a bit of gray. Gipper also had very round eyes, and smaller ears than Dilbert. Even his size was about the same.
I popped him in a little box, and then took him home to meet the family. He and Chewy seemed to hit it off pretty well at first, and always liked to play together in the hall. The cage was a little too close for the two of them, and I had to put a little separator in there, though they could still see, smell, and "talk to" each other through the wire divider. Before this, Gipper would constantly annoy Chewy by trying to snuggle up to him. He would also occasionally nibble on Chewy's fur. They actually did love to cuddle together in a nice towel, or blanket, and seemed to get along just fine, as long as they were not confined together in that cage. They could get along for a while; but then Gipper would start to nibble at Chewy's fur, which drove him nuts. So they really did get along quite well, and it may just be that the cage is a bit small for the two of them.
Gipper loved to hide and burrow, as do most guinea pigs. One of his favorite things, was for me to fold a bath towel into quarters, put it on my bed, next to me, and lift up an edge for him to crawl into. He actually gets excited and gives out a series of clucks, when he sees this, and scrambles towards it, to burrow within. He would spend a few moments settling in, and then wait for me to stick my hand in, and start to rub or scratch. He would then almost immediately stretch, yawn, and resettle. If I took too long to start, He would poke his head out - just to let me know he was there, and was ready. When he was ready to go, he would come out, and go to the edge of the bed, facing out. So I would pick him up and put him back in the cage. I assume that he was hungry, thirsty, or had to pee, when he did this. Sometimes he would stay for well over an hour, before letting me know he wanted to go back.
Gipper was a very happy, good natured pig, who genuinely liked people, as well as other pigs. He would stand up in his cage and look at people as they passed, and always greeted me when I came home, or when I passed the cage. He craved attention, and enjoyed being handled. He had an amazing amount of personality, and was a rather special pig. While he was being carried around he would generally nibble lightly on my hands, or sometimes lick my hands. These were gentle nibbles, and I believe them to be expressions of affection. If I paid a lot of attention to another pig, Gipper would actually get jealous and start to squeal. If he was left alone in the cage, with the other pig removed for some reason, he would squeal, until I came and got him. I recall one occasion, after I had been on vacation, and had left the pigs at my mother's house, Gipper let out a squeal that was practically a scream, when I picked up my other pig, before I picked up Gipper.
About six months before his death, I began to notice Gipper losing weight. I took him into the vet, and had his teeth trimmed; but this did not seem to help, and after a while longer, I noticed that there were certain foods he would not eat. I took him back to the vet, where he was X-rayed. There was problem with his teeth, where they did not mesh quite right, and he was unable to close them enough to eat. This was going to require a specialist, and would be expensive. His teeth would need to be ground down, and reshaped. There was also the possibility that he was going to need this done again. The operation was performed in April, and lasted, with no problems, until August. This was actually a major operation, and Gipper came home with pain medication, as well as antibiotics. He would also need to be syringe fed for some days. Loving attention, and enjoying being held, Gipper may not have minded the feedings.
In August the operation was repeated. This time, it was worse. A tooth broke, and another was removed. Gipper was to be given antibiotics for two weeks, and pain medication for five days. He seemed to recover, for a while, though I continued to feed him Critical Care from a syringe. I was not happy with his improvement; but the vet advised me to withhold judgment until the antibiotics were finished, as they could sometimes put a pig's appetite off. Having discontinued the antibiotics on Friday night, he seemed to recover; but then disaster struck. On Monday, he was fine in the morning, having been given his morning feeding; but upon my return in the evening, he was laid out, and very sick looking. I stayed up all night with him, nursing and feeding, until I was able to call the vet, in the morning. I was scheduled for 10:00 AM. At the vet's office. I was advised that he was having gas, from the movement of his digestive system stopping. The cure was to force feed him, at four hour intervals, to get things moving. the first few force feedings went fine; but he still seemed a bit bloated, and I began to notice, that he would not swallow what I had force fed him. Around nine that evening, I bundled him in a towel, and sped off to a 24 hour clinic in Milwaukee. Gipper died at around 10:00 P.M. on the night of his fourth birthday, by an odd coincidence. He passed, wrapped in a towel as I sped to a 24 hour emergency pet clinic, literally right outside the door.
I was devastated - he had seemed to have such a good chance, and everything had gone well, until the last two days. As of this writing, Gipper has been dead for three days, and I am still very depressed. The vet who worked on his teeth, checked him over and advised that he probably felt sick due to a tumor that had developed in his lungs, and spread to his spleen. This destroyed his appetite, which is how bloat developed. This did show up on an X-ray, taken in the morning by his regular vet; but it was considered to be a secondary problem, which would be addressed after getting some food down him, to take care of a bloat problem. There was simply nothing more to be done. I have checked the pounds, and will soon be getting a pig, as a companion to my little pig Red. I am not presuming to replace Gipper, any more than I replaced Dilbert, Einstein, or Chewy. It's just that I like guinea pigs, enjoy having them around, caring for them, and giving them what I like to think of as a good life. It also is a fact, that it is bad to have a guinea pig lead a solitary life, so Red will need a new cage mate. Gipper will be badly missed, as he already is; but that is a part of pet ownership. Had I not gone out looking, after my buddy Dilbert died, Gipper and I would never have met. Life goes on. Goodbye my friend.