Beauty and Sadness

I had hoped this would be a happy post: the triumphant arrival… journeys end and all’s well, but it was not to be.

Friday began with a giggle. As part of Triar’s training, if I find him chewing on something he shouldn’t, I take it off him and give him something delicious instead. The unintended result is that he likes finding things to chew, not simply because he enjoys doing that, but because he can exchange them for food.

We were staying in an apartment near Gravdal, Lofoten for two nights and already he had brought me a tiny plastic knight from a travel chess set and two rather ornate clothes pegs with days of the week written on them, which I assumed he had found on the floor.

View of the apartment garden… and beyond.

I was somewhat surprised when I found him mouthing a third peg. I knew there was a basket of them in the bathroom, but they were too high up for him to reach and anyway the bathroom door was closed.

I was eating breakfast when I caught sight of movement in the corner of my eye. Triar was standing next to the fridge, moving very slowly, ears down in definite stealth mode. As I watched, he reached out gently and took somethingĀ  into his mouth. I put down my plate and walked over to see what he had and laughed out loud. It was another of the ornate pegs, which were magnetised on one side. Obviously he had found a wonderful source of cleverly disguised fridge decoration, for which he knew I would pay him in food… which of course I did.

We spent the day driving round the southern end of Lofoten with Triar. As we were staying two days, Kiwi and Susie the guinea pigs stayed in the flat for a day off. I have lots of photos, which I will share with you tomorrow. But today’s blog is dedicated to Kiwi.

She was an old lady when we set out. I knew the journey was a risk before we left, but the early stages had gone smoothly. She and Susie seemed so much at home in the car, strolling out and eating as we drove, that I had almost forgotten to worry. I had noticed, back in the cozy hytte a couple of days earlier, that one of her eyes looked watery, but as she was still eating and drinking, and there was very little discharge, I pushed the tiny twinge of concern aside.

But on Friday, late in the evening, as I went to give them a last bit of salad before going to bed, I noticed she was making a strange noise. Every time she breathed out, there was a tiny grunt, and there was a definite effort that hadn’t been there before. We went outside and found her some dandelion leaves – always her favourite. She ate one, then seemed uninterested in taking more. We took her out of the cage and I encouraged her to take some vitamin C from a teaspoon.

She looked a little better on Saturday morning. We gave her more water and vitamin and this time she fought a little, as if she had more energy. The vet practice was closed, but we found a pharmacy not far from the flat which, to my relief, sold us some antibiotic mixture recommended by Guro, a wonderful vet from Tu who specialises in small furries.

We decided to make a run for home. It was only five and a half hours and we would stop a few times and syringe her some water. If I could get her home, and into her own cage with plenty of fresh air, I thought I could nurse her back to health.

It didn’t work out that way. By the time we took her out for the second time, I could see there was something far wrong. The brightness in her eyes was starting to fade and I’ve seen that look before. I wished I had thought to ask the pharmacist for some saline I could have given her under her skin, but even if I had done so, I couldn’t have warmed it up. We got back into the car, and she crawled into the little wooden house I had bought them last winter. Within a minute or two of setting off, she became very still.

By the time I found somewhere else to stop, she was gone. I took her out of her cage and held her a while at the side of the road with tears running down my face.

We left her there, among some beautiful flowers, halfway up a steep little valley. John held me for a moment. I was glad he was so calm. And then we drove on, and now there was no hurry to get home, and no little furry body to nurse and the happy arrival I had in my mind became instead a time of emptiness.

So tomorrow I will post the pictures of Lofoten, and the things we have done since we arrived here in Finnsnes. But this chapter is dedicated to Kiwi, a beautiful, calm, kind little guinea pig with a heart of gold. Goodbye little friend.


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