Recently Cosy Cottage suffered another bereavement when well-loved Blaze passed away. He was the eldest of the residents here, between six and seven years of age, and had been feeling various ailments of old age – stiff legs (arthritis probably), blindness in one eye and general slowness.
Blaze previously lived at my Book Club friend Liz’s house. He arrived at Cosy Cottage as an elderly widower a year ago, after losing his friend Fury.
At the same time, Cosy Cottage’s Loco had lost his partner Bugsy.
My book club friend Liz and I decided to try and matchmake these two lonely old men so they would have companionship in their old age.
It worked a treat and, for a year, Loco and Blaze got on very well. Blaze nibbled on his hay contentedly while Loco continued his lucrative career as a professional beggar. Blaze happily helping himself to the profits of Loco’s begging schemes.
When Loco died, I started to search for a pal for Blaze. He seemed to be happy enough, eating and drinking, but still… They do say Guinea pigs prefer to be with others.
So that was when Tom and Tim, pictured below, arrived. Again, like Loco and Bugsy, they came from the adoption section from Pets at Home. Three pigs meant a bigger cage was needed – so I bought a c&c cage with an attic. I went through the same routine as last time, when introducing Loco to Blaze. This included separate cages next to each other and quick, fleeting ‘getting to know you’ sessions.
And then D-day arrived and the the three moved into the large c&c cage – a palace for Blaze, who had been living in a cottage by comparison. But this was when I found that, even though most experts say male guinea pigs need company, it does have to be the right companion, especially for someone of Blaze’s age.
Tim and Blaze got on well until one day Tim started trying to mount Blaze. This is actually natural in the boar world, and is a way of asserting dominance.
But I was concerned about Blaze and any potential stress this may cause at his elder years, so Blaze moved out of the palace and back into his little cottage. The new boys were too young and too boisterous.Blaze really needed an older companion like himself.
I moved him next to my settee so he was closer to human company, if not pig, although he may well have heard the bickering of his quarrelling neighbours from across the room!
Blaze was a quiet, well-mannered boar of simple tastes. As long as he had his hay and his muesli, he did not ask for much. Never complaining and always polite, he was a little gem among pigs.
He was very popular with my godchildren, especially two-year-old Wilfred. I think Wilfred would have loved to have taken Blaze back home with him in his pocket.
Blaze came across as a wise old boar. Rather than demanding treats, he seemed to be meditating on the meaning of life. Saying that, he never turned down anything tasty that came his way.
But he had his health issues. About to cut his nails one day, I noticed there was something wrong with his foot. Was it dried mud? No, it was bumble foot. This is a horrible condition where pigs’ feet get scabs. It can spread to the bones so a visit to the vet was essential.
After a visit to the vet, he was given antibiotic, foot wash and painkiller for this, but sadly, a few days on, he passed on.
I like to think of him going to Dandelion Heaven, where Loco, Fury and all his other pals will have waited for him… And where there will be many fields of dandelion and hay to munch on.
R.I.P Blaze, you were a lovely little gentleman.