I wanted to share the story of Oliver, our "store" pig. He just passed away at the age of between 7.5 and 8 years of age.
We have always had a special affection for cavies, ever since we opened in 1985. Always tried to help them find forever homes, been particular about who got them and would not hesitate to just refuse to let one go home if we did not think they were ready for a pig. Sometimes however, we were unsuccessful and they went to people that should not have pigs.
Ollie was purchased from us by a school teacher in 2002. She kept him for 1 season and gave him to another teacher the following year. During the spring break of 2005 the person that had him, came into the store, put him and his cage on the counter, and said, "put him to sleep, I can't deal with it anymore".
He was infested with mites, had a vitamin c deficiency, was about 300 grams underweight, no hair, and suffered from seizures. Toenails were curled up and he could not lay down as it was just too uncomfortable. he staff knew how much I loved Guinea pigs, so they cleaned him up and left me a note.
He was treated for mites and the scurvy. Hair proceeded to grow back, eyes improved, weight came back on. All in all it was about a 6 month process until he looked really like a healthy male guinea pig. During that time I had noticed that he disliked, no hated being picked up and handled.I could not figure it out. He loved the attention but really just screamed whenever you picked him up or rubbed the back of his neck, you know that hump some of them have? After he was back to health I decided to get an x-ray done of him because of his dislike of the head and neck being rubbed. Turns out there was calcification in two of his vertebrate, the number 4 and 5 had been cracked lengthwise and had grown back and sort of fused into 1 piece. So we came to the conclusion that the vitamin c deficiency had helped the mite problem get severe enough that he would go into convulsions. And someone was holding him when he went into those convulsions. If you have never seen a pig have a seizure, it is a very scary thing. So I think they were holding him, he convulsed, it scared them and they dropped him.
He became our official mascot, was always taken to classes when we went to talk to kids about pets, or when we did anything outside the store. In addition, most stores have a cat, dog, or bird they let loose, we let Ollie run around on the floor in the evenings. He would scurry down the isles looking for me, and if he could not find me, he would squeal to get me to answer him. I could holler "Oliver!" and he would come up to wherever I was at the time.
People would come in just to visit Ollie. Once I figured out his neck issue, I learned how to build his trust. He loved to sit in my lap as I did paper work and liked to wander on my desk. I even accuse him of "surfing the web" looking for guinea pig pictures. He always expected to be the first pig "Goodied" every evening. Was quiet and just stood at the edge of his cage with a "you know I must be first, for I am Oliver!" look. Carrots and cherries were his favorite, but peppers and melons came in a close second.
Ollie passed away August 16. 2010, he was between 7 1/2 and 8 years old. We believe he suffered a stroke about 10 days earlier, but did not want to stress him any more than necessary by a transport to a Vet. He had declined in weight by about 15 percent in the last few months. He did still enjoy my lap in the afternoons and goodies still made him happy, even though he tended to drop them and not be able to find them.
Because of him we have a rescue operation running through the store. We took in 55 cavies last August, many of which were pregnant, from a local humane society that told us they were going to put them down because" they take up space we can use for cats".
Oliver, may he be in fields of clover and fresh timothy hay forever! I miss you dude,