Archive for January, 2010

That was the pig that was…

That was the pig that was Nibbles…
Nibbles wouldn’t have arrived here if it hadn’t been for a very determined RSPCA Inspector. I received a phone call one evening from my local Inspector asking me to take in 7 guineas, I was full and apologised because I couldn’t do it, to which he replied:  “I’m not leaving this house without them, I’ve seen too many die this week and now they’ve decided to sign them over I’m going to take them, I just need somewhere to put them tonight. Tomorrow they may change their minds and not want to sign them over.”
The day after they arrived I went to see James, our local vet, he stated the obvious- she was severely underweight, and also gave her a thorough healthcheck. Being a victim of neglct can often mean lots of issues are present- not always major, but treated wrongly or not treated at all things can get worse. I was advised that a Gorgeous Guineas bath would be a good start for her and the others and to obviously include administering Otodex ear drops too in case of any ear problems, despite there being no evidence of any. Ear “problems” is not something I come across very often at all on Planet Guinea, all my own guinea pigs are bathed (and that includes the routine of ear cleaning and administering Otodex ear drops. The rescue guinea pigs receive the same treatment which “nips everything in the bud” so to speak. James, being the walking encyclopaedia that he is, proceeded to tell me that if Nibbles were a dog there is a wider range of products, however they contain steroids whichare abused by many vets to treat the symptoms but not the disease, there is no place for them when treating guinea pigs be it ears or otherwise. Nibbles also had treatment for mites as her rump had a bald patch- quite possibly a post pregnancy hairloss as there were boars brought in with the group.

Nibbles did well, she responded to the treatment for mites and her hair grew back lovely, she put on a pound in weight (she weighed just over a pound on arrival) and began to appreciate that there would always be another meal she didn’t have to eat everything all  at once.

When I felt a mass in her abdomen I checked the dates to see if we were about to welcome some mini pigs but the dates said that was impossible, so it was another visit to see James and see what he could make of it. Nibbles had an internal abdominal abscess that stretched across her abdomen. It was a case of do or die- so we did. James is an excellent surgeon and I had every faith in him. Nibbles came through the op well much to James’ delight too, but half an hour after coming round she had a cardiac arrest, fortunately James was on hand and brought her back, all was well.

Nibbles was in the local and national papers and visited some local schools doing fundraising before retiring to a life of luxury here on Planet Guinea. If the ages given were correct, Nibbles died when she was six. If there was ever an undervalued little soul it was Nibbles, some guineas are special, extra special and Nibs was one of them.

A Gift for Planet Guinea…

Jasmine (gift from  god) has left us to become a Star on Planet Guinea, she is the big, chunky, bright shiny star that is usually in the same place and chooses not to move around. When she does move it is in direct straight lines that reach their destination quickly.

Jasmine was around 5 andcame to Planet Guinea as part of the Satin Study along with Cooper and Rosa when she was about 2. A big chunky sow, she didn’t develop signs of what may have been Osteodystrophy until the last few months of her life- however her mouth has always been ‘perfect’ pointing to the fact that it may not have been Osteodystrophy at all.

Jasmine was a favourite at the local primary school where she visited several times and was a ‘guinea pig’ for a local vet visiting the school. Jasmine also attended Piggy PMs where she was a favourite with lots of people in the  guinea pig room.

Karen (Enjoying the quality of her gifts 🙂 )

Thanking my Lucky Star

Earlier this month Little Miss Lucky left us to become a star on Planet Guinea. She is the white one that bounces around and desperately tries to get in front of the of the others, if not on them!

Little Miss Lucky arrived in 2009 after having over 5 homes in 2 weeks. She was brought here because she ‘wouldn’t live with anyone’… It wasn’t long before Little Miss Lucky had chosen to live in a herd and was adjusting to being part of a group as nature intended.

I am proud that she was chosen as a case study by a local Animal Aromatics student but even more ‘stunned’ at the benefits she experienced. Despite never fully overcoming her physical hormonal issues Miss Lucky’s behaviour changed dramatically, proving that, for her, the issue was not  linked to what was happening physically (Ovarian Cysts), if it wasn’t for the hairloss there was no indication that anything was wrong.

All this has been a valuable part of the continuous learning curve linked with guinea pigs and was yet another life that was not in vain 🙂

Karen (Thanking the Lucky Star) 🙂

Sunshine on Planet Guinea…

Tonight there is a new shiny star on Planet Guinea. Sunshine is the golden shiny star hovering in the background, occasionaly moving out to the front with the others for a while before returning to her background spot. Sunshine is the golden brown star with slight speckles of black that ‘just fits in’ with everything around her.

Sunshine had been having minor dental work since September, her Incisors were often slanted but there was no sign of any Molar problems. On Saturday she had her usual ‘check up’ and I found some brown marks on her top molars, but not like those I have seen on Satins with Osteodystrophy (which were blackand pitted), this was a definitely brown but unusual (or at least not something I’ve seen before), brown marks. Apparently this is evidence of either something ‘happening’ in the gums or due to Antibiotic use, Sunshine was not on antibiotics. I was expecting her to have a tooth root abscess or similar given the ‘symptoms’.

On Sunday Sunshine wasn’t herself, not eating as much as normal and refusing to take water from a syringe or bottle when offered- Sunshine was a big drinker.  Luckily I had some Rimadyl left over from when Aura was ill and I gave Sunshine some in case she was in any pain.

However, this morning Sunshine had chosen her own time to go which although unexpected was not a complete shock.

Sunshine was part of a large RSPCA rescue of a lot of Satin guinea pigs that had been allowed to breed freely (not a breeder in the Cavy Fancy) and were living in very cramped condition, the group was split (it was sooo big,100’s of them) and went to different parts of the country. When Sunshine arrived she was fit and well though needed to put on some weight. Summer on the grass saw to that and she joined Cloud’s girls (as the cages were full) with a view to being rehomed. However as satin it would be to a home that had been made aware of the possible issues with osteodystrophy.

That home never turned up and Sunshine became part of the group immediately, just getting on with her little life, no special friends or enemies but fitting in perfectly 🙂 . Last year Sunshine did her one and only Piggy PM, she went along to show the difference between a matt coat guinea and the sheen on a Satin.

Karen (there will always be Sunshine on Planet Guinea 🙂 )

Living, Learning and Lily…

The snow and extreme weather is definitely having an impact here and forcing some trains of thought never considered before but today forced me to do something I would ordinarily have asked Jenny (vet) to do. Whilst it is possible to walk up the hill on the icy and dangerous pavements to the vets there would probably be no one there to do a dental, i.e. Jenny! Jenny is working at her local surgery as opposed to her normal one near Planet Guinea 😦 .

Lily has been showing signs that she has dental problems this wheek, not unexpectedly, she has had ongoing problems since she arrived that Jenny has been treating, they start with loose pellets, and progress to slower and slower eating meaning she is almost continually grazing.

Given the situation I decided to bite the bullet and take a look inside her whole mouth myself, I knew her Incisors were slanted which pointed to a Molar problem but had hoped to be able to let Jenny sort out the Molars after I had levelled the Incisors, however the weather has other ideas 😦

On closer inspection her left lower Premolar was starting to curl over the tongue though wasn’t trapping it, yet. Doing dental work isn’t my most comfortable aspect of looking after the guineas but if needs must…  Wrapped and supported on a cushion Lily was a good patient for me and further investigation revealed that the Premolar was not only overgrowing it was decaying and wobbly, great, now we have the added problem of pus and infection- maybe!

However, the Premolar was suitably loose and easy enough to remove with no squeaking from Lily, no blood and no pus! Truth be told I feel quite proud of myself, the best part was seeing Lily eat with enthusiasm immediately after the extraction, I couldn’t help but think “that’s all because of me”. Similarly I could have needed to trim her Molars and it could have caused misalignment and further problems, also “all because of me”. I am just thankful I had some training from Gina ( an experienced rodentologist) on dental work and decided to buy the necessary instruments. Whilst I’m happy to do Incisors I still find the Molars a challenge but when push comes to shove it’s suprising what a snowfall can force you into.

Lily ate some banana and then celery followed by carrot before going back with the others where she tucked into into some Bunny Nature fine Alpine hay and Just Grass.

Lily’s mouth is odd, the only way I can describe it, all guineas have different/unique mouths but Lily’s is more than just unique. I suspect there will be further issues regarding dental work but Lily and I live one day at a time, with Lily’s whole outlook on life being eating, sleeping and I believe a little “living” is creeping into her days now. She definitely ‘runs’ with the other girls now and is part of the crowd, happy to steal food from the others and they steal food from her- she gets no sympathy from them just because she is blind and deaf, though I must admit she’s twisted me,(a little bit), round her paws 🙂

Lily knows that when my wellies are in the pen food will follow and she climbs up them in anticipation. Watching her search for the bowls can be amusing, if she doesn’t find what she wants she simply carries on “looking” and wheeking, like I’ve forgotten to put what she wants in there!

You’re cute Lily but I know what’s good for you!

Karen (Living, learning and Loving every moment with the Lovely Lily 🙂 )

Cold Play @ Planet Guinea…

During the long cold spells on Planet Guinea we have been putting our new Indoor/Outdoor and Maximum/Minimum thermometer to good use. Previously we have had the essential Max/Min one but the new gadget is far more interesting. Whilst we never rehome unless at least a shed can be provided for the damp and winter months I was shocked to see how cold an unheated shed really is!

The store shed only has the bare bones up (ie floor and walls), but is a large and extremely sheltered space with no snow blowing in it and probably more sheltered than your average ‘sheltered spot’ on the patio etc. However, last night the temperature fell to -4C while the heated shed fell to 8C ( preferred temp  10C).

Purely for my own interest I’ll be recording the high/low temps when the windows go back in too! I don’t intend to heat that space and can see it making great fodder for comparing temperatures!

Read about the Gorgeous experience of Snow Days on their blog: Stocking Up Food For (guinea pig) Emergencies.

Karen (off out to shovel the white stuff)

The Noughties In Brief…

The Noughties In Brief! Here’s to a Happy New Decade! But before we wave goodbye to The Noughties let’s take a look at how Planet Guinea and RGPR has evolved:

2000: Emily’s friend Charlotte died and I couldn’t find a rescue to get her a friend so, after finding Phoebe in a local pet shop, I set about finding out about starting a rescue and then saw the local RSPCA branch advertising for cat and dog fosterers. I decided that I would phone them in the New Year to see if they wanted any guinea pig fosterers. There was no question of doing rescue unless there was some financial backing to pay for vet bills.

2001: In February we became fosterers for the local branch of the RSPCA, we were advised to start small and try and establish what sort of numbers would be manageable for us. At the time we also had our own guineas- Phoebe, Emily and Molly and I was studying the BAR Rodentology course, taking in a few rescues also seemed like a good way of gaining experience, however nothing ever goes to plan and I became more involved in rescue and rehoming (which was teaching me more than any course), But I did pass part one with flying colours and half of part two (getting 100% on the guinea pig part) before deciding that rescue and rehome was the path I needed to follow and commit to.

2002: Our first two single rescue boars were bonded, Dougal and Ted. Dougal and Ted were rehomed to live free range in a shed and both lived until they were 8 years old. I met Chrissie who was to play a significant part in RGPR, not only did she adopt the lovely Florence, she offered to build be a website (high tech in 2002, or at least I thought so!). Apparently ‘everyone has to have one…’. Eventually Chrissie persuaded me to take it over when Gorgeous Guineas became a full time business.

2003: This year saw the back of Vetsect Repel, my favoured shampoo for bathing as recommended by CCT and Peter Gurney. Chrissie stepped in to help once again when RGPR took in a group of 18 Fungal Guineas by fostering a pair and, with the permission of our vet, using some gentle shampoos she had made. I haven’t used anything else since.

2004: The Satin Study UK was undertaken by a group of UK Guinea Pig Enthusiasts with the aim of finding out if Osteodystrophy was present in Satin Guinea Pigs. UK breeders ‘donated’ x rays of their satins and in lots of cases we were given detailed ‘family trees’ which made for some interesting reading. Several Satins were also given to RGPR, we had a variety of purebreds and pets. Osteodystrophy has proved to be a subject with many grey areas, as would be expected, and there are varying degrees of the disease. Satins have been rehomed from RGPR, it doesn’t seem fair to deprive a guinea pig of a home because this may develop. All new owners are advised on symptoms and what to do before making the decision to adopt a satin guinea pig.

2005: This year I took the website over from Chrissie who had been running it from 2002. 2005 is also the year that Phoebe Gorgeous went to be a Star on Planet Guinea. Phoebe is my biggest, brightest star and represented the rescue at local schools, a nursery, vet open days (including the opening of Tilehurst Active Vetcare centre) and was a cover girl for a small animal magazine as well as having her own page: Phoebe G writes… Throughout the summer her arthritis worsened until it became so painful she wasn’t eating properly. Phoe was the first guinea pig I had needed to have put to sleep (save for rescues), I hoped she would choose her own time to go but it wasn’t to be. The painkillers she was on (a cat one) took away the pain so she could eat on her own but they took away her soul too, and no soul, no Phoebe…

2006: In 2006 the current Planet Guinea shop was opened to sell the surplus seeds that we grow here. Our ‘new vet’ Jenny was already showing lots of promise with guineas and was starting to see nearly as many as James!

2007: Chrissie, from Gorgeous Guineas, adopted Chase who was born here in 2004, adopted in 2005 and returned 2 weeks later because of an allergy one of the Humans had suddenly developed. Until Chrissie asked if we could try her with Marbles and Florence she had been completely overlooked. This year saw our very first Piggy PM held at Active Vetcare with kind permission from the then Senior vet, Alison.

2008: A good year for rehoming, we rehomed 46 guineas to Animal Welfare Act Compliant homes, but took in 60, some of whom are still with us… I should add that the ones still here were all, except one, born here and are all boars. Because of the large intake in comparison to those rehomed I decided to base my 2009 intake on 2008’s rehoming.

2009: Money from the 2008 and 2009 Piggy Pms has paid for the final blocks of hutches and rest has gone towards the new store shed. Work started on this in 2009 and is still work in progress. Planet Guinea and Gorgeous Guineas got together for Comic Relief and made up a Party Pack with Red Stripe Bags of Fun and Happy Souls shampoo, with all profits donated to Comic Relief.

Here’s to another 10 happy years.