Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bertie: Determined Rodent Extraordinaire

Less than a month ago I begged the vet that I wanted my old Bertie back:  the one that liked to run laps and defiantly climb into hay racks.  I felt like a little kid, demanding my dad fix a toy that was beyond repair.  I wanted this so much that I threw practicality to the wind, and scheduled surgery to remove Bertie's kidney tumor early in the new year.

Bertie had improved since her Thanksgiving vet visit.  By the week before Christmas, she had finally crept up over 700g, wasn't fighting the hand feedings as much and was generally looking a bit better.  I allowed myself to hope that the surgery would be successful, and after this year-and-a-half of gradual decline from viruses and kidney issues, I would get my active, happy Bertie back. 

Alas.  It was not to be.

By Christmas Eve, things didn't feel right.  Bertie lost a little weight.  She ate a bit slower.  Even though the scale indicated she was holding at 687g, she felt skinnier than ever before.  It dawned on me - this slow-moving tumor was now growing faster.  Poor Bertie was still losing weight, but I suspect the tumor was gaining at a matching rate.  It broke my heart when I realized there probably wasn't enough left of Bertie to operate on.  When Bertie's breathing became labored, I knew I'd lost my chance to save her.

Bertie's favorite spot
I spent the days after Christmas trying to make sure Bertie was fed,  comfortable and that Pinni wasn't pestering her too much.  I hovered over her,  wrung my hands and agonized that I would have to make a final decision for her as I had for Willow.  I feared that Bertie would be just too damned stubborn to give up.  We continued to see flashes of our old Bertie, as she chewed bars and ran off  with prized pieces of pepper.  She was so tired, but didn't appear to be in pain.  As long as her spark was still there and she showed a will to live, we'd work with her. 

Bertie was her opinionated, determined, stubborn self to the very end.  On Friday morning, she lost interest in eating anything, except for bits of melon rind.  Even that, she would only take a bite or two and just stop.  Pinni, of course, leaves no piece of food uneaten, and went to help herself to Bertie's last bit of melon.  Rob discovered the two of them locked in a tug-of-war over the melon rind.  It was Bertie's melon, damn it, and she wasn't about to let go of it, even if she had no strength to eat it.  It.  Was.  Hers.

Pinni was immediately whisked off to the old quarantine cage to give Bertie some peace and quiet.  Bertie was left alone, snuggled in her cuddle cup, melon rind by her side.  I guess that's all she wanted; she was gone less than an hour later.

We buried Bertie in her beloved hay rack, next to Willow and Pippin.  I think she would have approved.


  1. Sally,
    I'm so sorry to hear that Bertie will no longer be launching her signature hayrack offensives. As usual, you've given us a lovely, thoughtful post that shows Bertie's usual personality and piggy-playfulness. Many, many hugs to you, Rob, and Pinni.

  2. I am sorry to hear that you lost a beloved family member. Bertie is in a better place now where she has no pain and can eat all the melon rind she wants.

  3. oh Sally I am so sorry! You told Bertie's story beautifully. Sending you hugs.

  4. Sally -
    This is very very sad news .... and my heart goes out to you, Rob, and Pinniped. Uli and I have gone through this too many times ourselves, and we know how heartbreaking it is to have one of your furry kids going over the Rainbow Bridge. At least, you didn't have to make the most difficult and painful decision, and Pinni was able to cross the Rainbow-Brigde while sleeping ... She certainly is happily roaming, popcorning, and running around as she used to on the other side of the bridge now - and she will be so excited to meet all the others again and play, nibble, munch and wheek together with them. Maybe you can hear a tiny squeak or purr at times when Bertie thinks of you and the wonderful tender loving care you were able to give her during her time with you. My thoughts are with you.
    - Nicole

  5. I'm so sorry to hear about Bertie. I always enjoyed hearing stories starring Bertie being her determined, lovable rodent self. Many hugs to you during this difficult time.

  6. Dear Sally, I have been reading about Bertie for awhile now and I really felt I knew her after your wonderful stories. This is really heartbreaking news. I'm not sure what makes the piggies so loveable, but oh they are - and you just get so attached. I love that she was fiesty up to the very end. I wish you could have had her longer, but she could not have had better care or a more loving home. Princess and Katie send you hugs. Godspeed good piggie. Linda

  7. Dear Sally,
    Bhob and I are sending you warm thoughts during this incredibly sad time. Reading about Bertie, and seeing pictures of her, has brought me much happiness. What a wonderful piggie with a wonderful caretaker. Our thoughts are with you.


I enjoy reading your comments and I strive to reply by email (if you're not set to no-reply).