Saying Goodbye

hedghe1smallerI had to say goodbye to Tumbleweed this weekend.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’ve had an African pygmy hedgehog for about three years.

She’s been an interesting and amusing little thing – she certainly had her own mind made up when it came to things she did or didn’t like and though she was grumpy much of the time, she still had a particular charm.

However, over the last year or so, she had been slowing down. Her left hind leg began to fuse together at the knee, forcing her to walk on her hock instead of the ball of her foot. The vets had never seen that happen before, but it didn’t seem to slow her down too much at first. Over the next year I did notice that she wasn’t as active as she had been. The vets said she had arthritis in that leg and to give her cat chondroitin – which she liked –  and that seemed to help.

For a while.

But she continued to slow down. She wouldn’t play as long as she used to and seemed to gethedgetwo tired more. A few weeks ago I noticed that she was now “knuckling” on her right front leg. I suspect she may have been compensating for the rear left leg, but it looked awful. Imagine curling your hand in and down and walking on the wrist bone of your arm – that’s what she was doing.

Since she wasn’t running properly on the wheel anymore, her toenails had gotten crazy long, which probably only added to her discomfort. (I trimmed those up as best as I could. Not her favorite thing to do and it’s *really* freaking hard to cut a hedgehog’s toenails if they don’t want you to.)

And I took her to the vet. They did some more x-rays and didn’t find anything out of place aside from the bad knee, and gave me an anti-inflammatory to feed her for a week. And I thought she was perking up a little, but I could see the writing was on the wall, even so.

And then a week later I realized she wasn’t eating. Or running. Or playing with me when I took her out. Or doing anything else other than sleeping. So when she wouldn’t unball for me at all on Saturday morning (not even when I put her in her bath – and that *never* happens), I took her back to the vet.

Sure enough, she’d lost over 10% of her body weight over those last few weeks (which is a hedgeonelot for such a small thing.) And I noticed that the top of her head looked red and raw under the quills, as though she might start bleeding.

The vet told me hedgies tend to get tumors a lot – so the chances were good she had some form of cancer on top of the bad knee.

And I decided to let her go.

Even if I could manage to syringe feed her in the meantime, the fact of the matter was her quality of life was clearly getting worse and she was in a lot of pain.  And that wasn’t fair to her.

It was a hard decision and I feel like I failed her, but it was the right call.

It still sucks.

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7 Responses to Saying Goodbye

  1. Nikki says:

    I’m so sorry you had to make that decision. It’s not an easy one to make, that’s for sure, I’ve done it twice and it still bothers me…But it’s a matter of what’s best for them, right?
    Take care 🙂

  2. Rhianna says:

    Lots of caring, comforting energy coming your way. I’m so sorry you had to make such a painful choice but so pleased you did, I just can’t stand folks who prolong a beloved pet’s suffering when they’re alive but not getting to live. *hugs*
    Rhianna recently posted..Release Day Party: MOONLIGHT by Lisa Kessler [+ giveaway!]

    • allison says:

      Thanks. If she’d shown even a little more spunk, I might have considered doing the syringe feeding, but I think she was just done. It would have been selfish of me to do anything else.

  3. Kelly Meding says:

    *big hugs* I’ve had to put down two cats in my life, and it’s one of the hardest decisions to make. But it’s also one of the kindest. Our furbabies give us their unconditional love, and letting one go when they’re in pain can be one of the most loving decisions you’ll make.

  4. :hugs: I’m so sorry for your loss, Allison.

  5. Jenn Burke says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Allison. It’s never an easy decision, even when you know it’s the right one. I’ve had to make the call for two dogs who had cancer, and it’s so bloody hard. I wish you all the best.

  6. Renee says:

    I am so sorry that you had to make that decision. It sucks royally, I know, but in the end, it was the kindest and most loving thing you could have done for her. Sending you lots of hugs and prayers for strength. How are the kiddies taking it?

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