Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Eye of the Piggy

Our skittish guinea pig, Hilda, took a flying leap from my daughter's arms into her cage, and scratched her eye. We've patted the bars of the cage, looking for any sharp spot or protrusion, without luck, but there it is -- poor piggy's eye is punctured and cloudy. Per the vet, we're giving her eyedrops three times a day, and painkiller twice.

Last night, as I was trying to drop the medicine into her squinty eye, Darwin said, "You know, I think her eye is shrinking."

And you guys, it is shrinking. I'd thought she was just squinting a lot, but no, her eyeball is getting smaller day by day. It fills me with a kind of horror to think about it. The vet had warned us that she might lose her eye, but I hadn't thought of seeing it happen bit by bit. We go back to the vet tomorrow for a follow-up. I don't think we need to take heroic measures to save her eye, even if such a thing is possible at this point. But we'll try to keep her as comfortable as possible as she heals.

It's not anyone's fault -- piggy has to be taken out of her cage so it can be cleaned; she is just a small fluffy pig who can't help being jumpy; what on earth did she bang herself on anyway? -- but it is sad to think that this small thing in our care is going to be maimed. Granted, her life is pretty sedate otherwise. She goes around her cage with her daughter Ruby. She sits in her house. Sometimes, if she is feeling feisty, she even flips her house, and then squeaks for someone to turn it back over. All these things can be done and done well with one eye. And other than her panic when we pick her up for her medicine, she doesn't seem to be suffering, as best we can tell.

We are not the most doting pet owners by any means, but we try to do well by these creatures in our house. The two old cats are sometimes frustrating, and the older one, at 19, seems well-nigh immortal, but we are responsible for them. Even when they pee on random fabric items on my floor, we don't hurl them outside. We buy them the expensive cat food because they don't throw it up. We even moved the litter box downstairs, to the far back corner of the kitchen by the washing machine, so that they'd stop pooping on the floor because they didn't want go up to the attic. It horrifies me to have a litter box in my kitchen, by my laundry. It drives me crazy to live in a house that sometimes smells like cat pee. When these cats die, we are done with cats. Done. But for now we have them, and we have to take care of them.

Lately, though, I've felt that I will indeed be judged on how I've treated our pets. Not on the amount of money we've spent on them, which is pretty negligible by pet-owner standards. Not for how often I've taken them to the vet, because they never go in unless they are in obvious distress. No, I feel like I will be judged on throwing the cat in the middle of the night because it's on my pillow, or for pushing it away when it stood on my puzzle trying to get me to scratch its head, or for the times I've called it stupid. Not because these are big things, but because they are little things, the littlest of the little, of no consequence to anyone or anything but my soul. The cats are God's creation too, and how I respond to them reflects upon me. I don't think I need to pamper them, but I need to at least respond to them as something that God thinks is good.

By the back door, there's a spider who's made its home in the old trellis on the porch. In days past I would have brushed the web away and smashed the spider if I could get it. But it's not harming me. It has a little hidey hole woven down into a corner of the trellis, and sometimes when we come out the back door it hides, and sometimes it sits out. I nod to it as I go past. Maybe it's catching bugs. Maybe it's just living, and as long as it's not in the house who cares? The back porch looks rather sloppy with the triangular web by the door, but it's of a piece with the rest of the place. God made it, and saw that it was good, and that's good enough for me.


CMinor said...

Just think of the spider as a Halloween decoration.

mandamum said...

I realized, looking at Halloween ads this year, that my spider attitude has changed. I used to have a live-and-let-live attitude, supporting their bug-eating ways and calling it symbiosis. But now I live deep in Black Widow territory, where I have to interact with giant plump black menaces on a regular basis IN MY HOUSE to protect my people, and am surrounded by people who each have their own "when I was bitten by a black widow" stories, and I see the characteristic widow silhouette on the flyer and SHUDDER! And then I go to the museum and hear that the native Black widow is being supplanted by the Brown widow who is much less poisonous, and I can't help thinking, "Sometimes invasive species are AWESOME!"

Sorry to hear about your guinea pig's trauma. It is overwhelming how much all the little bits matter. I'm absolutely failing on the big ones... and that's partly why I'm loathe to take in any more non-human dependents at this time.

Emily J. said...

Losing an eye is better than losing a life. A couple years ago, I left our previous set of guinea pigs outside on the back porch for a couple hours one morning and accidentally cooked them. They died a rather slow death of heatstroke as I tried to cool them with wet towels. My son wanted me to take them to the vet, but I hesitated out of frugality and a recognition that their lives were already lost. I could euthanize them if necessary rather than pay a vet an exorbitant amount to do it. It was painful to watch them pant and know the next breath might be the last. I was hopeful one might survive, but no luck. I also killed a little chicken on Easter by mopping the floor. I felt like a murderer. but also a realist who considered the fade of memoria