Too short of a time

This post was supposed to be completely different than it will be. I waited a couple days to do the formal introduction, and now it’s already too late. You see, last weekend, The Woman and I found ourselves hanging out around the guinea pigs at a pet store. We weren’t really looking to buy one – we just enjoy watching the little goobers. But we struck up a conversation with a woman and her daughter who were also watching them. It turned out that they had an adorable little piggy by the name of Charcoal who was looking for a new home. They wanted to get a dog, but not before they found a good family to take in their current pet. We seemed like an ideal candidate.

However, the major debate we’ve had since the loss of Jessie has been whether or not to get a new companion for Shadow. I’m a pretty big believer that social creatures like guinea pigs really need to be kept as pairs. But it was difficult putting Teddy and Jessie to sleep, and I’ve been afraid of getting sucked into a cyclical pattern of replacing one critter with another. Plus, Shadow had mites and we were still trying to get rid of them. This opportunity seemed pretty ideal (adopting instead of buying, he was the same age as Shadow, and we had gotten rid of the mites), so eventually The Woman talked me into it and she headed over to check Charcoal out.

He was pretty small for being 3 years old, but we couldn’t tell if that was just because we stuff our piggies silly or if he lost a lot of weight due to an unfortunate encounter with family’s first attempt at adoption. Nevertheless, he was a sweetheart and seemed to be a perfect companion for our own rather timid critter. I was determined to “do things right” this time around and introduce them more slowly. They were first put together on Thursday, as soon as The Woman brought him home, but it wasn’t until today that we gave them the chance to spend a lot of time together. And boy was it fun.

Shadow reminded us why we gave him the name to begin with – it wasn’t just his dark black fur, but the way he followed Jessie around so closely when they were loose. And even though this was his “territory”, Shadow yielded to Charcoal’s curiosity and let him lead the way all around the office, and even into the hallway. It’s the most exercise the little chub has done in over a year. They took the occasional break together, but were quite active and friendly – with minimal humping involved! After an hour, they looked tuckered out, so we put them in their separate cages and left to run some errands, excited at the prospect of the new friends.

Not long after we returned, I heard The Woman calling me from the office, sounding rather desperate. Charcoal was having trouble moving. By the time I got there, his back legs were completely immobile and he was losing strength fast. I quickly picked him up and he started convulsing. I wasn’t sure if it was a seizure or if he was choking. We panicked and couldn’t figure out what to do. I rushed him upstairs to cool him in front of the air conditioner, but it was too late by then. He had gone completely limp. Our poor little Charcoal, only three days in our care and already in our hearts, had passed away.

I was looking forward to writing a cute little message welcoming him to our lives, and already find myself writing a goodbye message. Everything seemed so perfect, but that doesn’t always mean it will work out. Goodbye Charcoal, I wish I got to spend more time with you.

At the very least, here’s a little tribute of his big day out:

Poor, sweet little Charcoal

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