Cosy Cottage was saddened by a bereavement recently when Loco, a popular boar, passed away, probably because of old age. How old was he? I do not know except to say I adopted him more than three years ago and I have no idea what age he was then.
He first came to Cosy Cottage with his companion Bugsy, from a Pet Adoption section at the pet shop, Pets at Home. The boys already had their names and were apparently looking for a new home because there were two other boars at their last residence and they didn’t get on together. Personally, I think the easy-going Loco would have got on with everyone but Bugsy – well, that was a different story entirely…
Loco and Bugsy had a rather argumentative relationship, Bugsy doing most of the quarrelling. I thought at first that maybe contrary Bugsy didn’t like his partner but if they were separated for short periods of time, Bugsy would look around and whistle for Loco.
He missed him.
On the other hand, Loco didn’t seem to mind being away from his temperamental friend!
Last year, around this time, Bugsy passed on to the Dandelion Paradise where all good – and mischievous – guinea pigs go, possibly because of age but I suspect more due to a horrible freezing cold spell (nicknamed ‘The Beast from the East’).
It was then I realised how much the companionship meant to Loco when he slowly deteriorated. Yes, he was still eating, still drinking, but his energy levels had dipped. I would leave his door open and he wouldn’t go out and explore. He acted as if he was deaf. As if he was blind. Or maybe it was simply that he was not as interested in life as before.
It looked like he was grieving and missing his friend.
He might get over Bugsy in time, I mused. Otherwise I would have to go through the ‘boar bonding’ ritual, where introducing one boar to another takes time and patience otherwise fights could break out.
But one day, I came across an internet appeal from my book club friend Liz. She was looking for a new friend for her recently bereaved male pig Blaze. I got in touch and agreed that if it didn’t work out – that is, if they didn’t take to each other – Blaze would go back to his original ‘pet parent’.
Blaze was small, dark and handsome – he was also calm, relaxed and tolerant. Following a week of careful introduction, they moved in together and, apart from a mad parsley-related moment from Blaze, all went well. Although there were a couple of ‘disagreements’ over who was to get that last slice of apple.
They would play Follow My Leader in the living room, Loco usually being the leader while mild-tempered Blaze would follow.
Food was Loco’s greatest love. A talented beggar, he would demand parsley and lettuce from what he viewed as his human servants. Simon was Dandelion Man, who would bring up tasty dandelions (although he also insisted on cutting the pigs’ nails so Loco had mixed feelings about Dandelion Man). The sound of chopping meant carrots and, once again, Loco would loudly insist on being given a choice morsel.
Another of Loco’s friends was Teddy, the Jack Russell, who would go and say hello. Loco would always go to the bars to see him. Loco may have trusted our Ted but I certainly didn’t and would always take Teddy away from Loco’s surroundings.
Loco was a big lad, after all, he loved his grub. But towards the end, he became thinner and became fussier about what he ate. He would beg and then leave the once tasty morsel behind, looking for something else. But somehow that wasn’t quite what he had in mind either.
I truly believe that, without Blaze, Loco would have gone months ago. Blaze was a real comfort to him and gave him a reason to live after his first companion died.
But one day, as will happen to us all, his time came to say goodbye to his loved ones. I like to think that there is a little part of heaven reserved for guinea pigs and it is full of dandelions and parsley and old friends.