November 30, 2008

Mouse Math

Right as we were leaving for Thanksgiving, I noticed that Cosy Mole Mouse was looking…peaked. Off. Not herself. She yawped her mouth at me twice through the glass---WIDE open, closed, WIDE open, closed. Then she died. BOOM, very fast. We gave her a standard gerbil funeral which involves a Target bag, powdered lime, and very little ceremony, but this one kinda got to me.

I KNOW, I know, they are Gerbils---they are ANCIENT gerbils, we had them longer than their fair share of months---but she was my favorite. Cosy was the sweetest of our mice ladies, the one who scrambled most willingly up into my palm, the most fetching to look upon….I LIKED her. A lot. She was also the mouse-lady who almost caused an international incident that I thought was going to end in Cosy being kidnapped by be-parka’d Swedish gerbil Ninjas, remember?

Alas. I’m sad she is gone. I liked her so.

Funeral over, car loaded, I became worried about the Neighbor Kid pet-sitting services not NOTICING if one or another of the remaining gerbils became PRETERNATUTRALLY STILL, and I didn’t want to come home to find the smell of a four days dead sister had driven the remaining gerbil INSANE. I rousted Alice and That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson from their nested pile of daytime sleepiness in the Gerbil Cabin. I just wanted to LOOK at them and make sure neither was mouth-yawping and readying to join Cosy in the great Gerbil beyond. That’s when I noticed Tenny’s back legs had stopped working.

Front end? A perfectly good working gerbil.
Back end? Not so much.
I put the mice in the car and drove them to the vet when we dropped the dog off to be boarded. I was going to have them euthanize That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson (I told the vet's assistant on the phoen that her name was "Tenny" Because it seemed easier) and take Alice with us so she wouldn’t be alone.

SO. I get inside the vet and drop the dog off, then I go back out to the car and get Tenny, who is flopped over happily chewing cardboard with her back legs stretched out behind her. As I watch she decides she wants a drink, so she paddles her front feet and slithers and drags her useless little hind feet over and leans up and drinks. SO the front end is REALLY working JUST fine.

I pick her up and discover her INNARDS are working because she immediately POOPS on me. SO. I take her in and she is looking around all interested and face washing and she eats a sunflower seed right out of my hands, and the vets assistant says, "Here, put her in this pet carrier" It is a HUGE cardboard box--- like cat size. "Because the vet is not here and he will do it when he gets back from lunch."

I look at her face washing and poking her nose about cheerfully, and I KNOW if I put her in that cardboard box and leave she is going to be scared and have no back legs and no sister and WHO KNOWS how long they will leave her there before someone remembers and kills her.

SO. I say, NEVERMIND! And I leave. Now both mice ladies weathered Thanksgiving and are home with me again. Alice is her usual self, by which I mean, spastic and a bit of a butt munch with bitey tendencies and escapey tendencies so of COURSE she is the magic gerbil who will live to be TEN. That Cross Dressing Poet Tennyson is dragging herself around, chewing cardboard, eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, and except for the I HAVE NO WORKING BACK LEGS thing seems quite cheerful. Every night she come sout at the usual time and nibbles the honey log and watches Alice run and run and run and runrunrun and run in the wheel, then they go curl up and sleep together after Tennyson drags herself back to the cabin.

When Cosy died, it was OBVIOUS Cosy was having some sort of awful THING happen in her body. She bowed and spasmed, and she looked... UNHAPPY and I was glad she died quickly. I think she must have stroked out or had a heart attack it was this fast. miserable thing. And when Snickers got sick and died, it was obvious that last day that Snickers felt CRAPPY. There is NO indication that Tennyson feels crappy at all, so I can’t see putting her down just because her back END is not working…right? Or…Bah I am sad about Cosy, Tenny is my second favorite, and I just do not know what to DO.

Posted by joshilyn at November 30, 2008 3:40 PM

If your baby is happy and doing as well as you have written, seems fine to do nothing. She's happy and cuddling with her friend at night. Should circumstances change then considering other options would be a good idea. I've had to go through similiar situations with my feline children to the point of truly pulling my heart out of my chest. My vet knowing I'm prone to crying at check-ups suggested we focus on quality of life....seems 'Tenny' is doing ok. Just keep an eye on things.

Posted by: Michelle at November 30, 2008 5:08 PM

When people told me that I would KNOW when the time came, I wanted to believe them, but I wasn't sure. When it came, I KNEW.

If you feel she's okay, she is. You know her. Quality of life is the thing.

Posted by: ccr in MA at November 30, 2008 5:35 PM

Awwww jeez, I feel for you. If it were me, I'd let Tennyson be... she seems content enough for the moment. I'm sorry about Cosy.

Posted by: Kimmers at November 30, 2008 6:24 PM

This stuff is just hard.
My living room is currently a Dog Hospice Center. I keep looking and assessing and trying to decide how I will decide that it is 'time.' *sigh*
I don't want that time to come.
If Tenny is happy - hold onto her as long as possible.

Posted by: Dana at November 30, 2008 7:22 PM

So sorry about Cosy.
Use baby wipes to help keep Tenny's legs and back side clean. As long as she appears happy and not in pain...Leave her with her friend.

Posted by: jean at November 30, 2008 7:28 PM

I'm sorry to hear about Cosy. It sounds as if Tenny is happy, and if she's happy, enjoy her.

Posted by: JulieB at November 30, 2008 9:24 PM

Sorry about Cosy.

I followed the link to the Swedish Gerbil Ninjas. Bizarre! Did they leave you alone after that?

Posted by: Holly at November 30, 2008 9:37 PM

It's been a week since my malamute cross died, so this post was oddly difficult to read, even though I've never met Cosy. But I have to agree with everyone else, quality of life is where it's at, and as long as Tenny's not in obvious distress, why curtail things? CCR is right, you'll know when it's time. Until then, enjoy every moment you can.

Posted by: Fran at December 1, 2008 12:27 AM

I'm so sorry about Cosy.
Since Tenny is still cleaning herself, I would say that is a good sign(or at least in my mind it is-miserable animals usually don't clean-or at least the ones I experienced don't). Hopefully she is not in pain.
It is never an easy decision, but I'm glad that you didn't leave her. Every animal I have ever had to put to sleep, I have held, and bawled like a baby, but I stayed until the end.
Could the vet give you any advice if he examined her? Ugh, I hate to have to make that awful decision, and every single time I have begged the Lord to take it from me, but in the end, I had to take them.
So Joshilyn, know that I know what you are going through, and will add you to my prayers.

Posted by: Heather P. at December 1, 2008 2:11 AM

I don't know if this helps any, but.... my brother had gerbils when we were kids and one had no back feet, just little stubs he dragged around. And he did just fine. I agree with everyone else-- if Tenny is content I'd just keep an eye on her.

Posted by: Laura L at December 1, 2008 10:43 AM

Oh, I'm so sorry about Miss Cosy! I will miss reading about her here. As for Tenny? It sounds like she's okay and enjoying life, so I say let her be for now and cross that other bridge when you come to it.

Posted by: Aimee at December 1, 2008 10:57 AM

I don't have a lot of experience with gerbils, so I'm not sure about vet care for them. Can the vet do anything to see if there is a reason for the paralysis in Tenny's legs? Maybe she could walk again.

And if she seems happy, let her be. I can tell when my kitties are unwell. If you think she feels fine, then she probably is.

Posted by: Haley at December 1, 2008 1:28 PM

I'm so sorry about Cosy. I hope Tenny stays happy so that you can be a happy gerbil owner.

Posted by: Nik at December 1, 2008 3:08 PM

I'm sorry about Cosy.

Posted by: RandomRanter at December 1, 2008 3:44 PM

I'm so sorry about Cosy. In our house the sweet pets always die first, too. It is not fair.

Now, I'm not a rodent person, so I don't know anything about what could be wrong with Tenny (great idea to give the vet's office the nickname, BTW!). But I have a suggestion. When our sweet Basil cat boy developed early signs of kidney failure I was very worried that he was going to suffer...that I was going to make him hang on too long.

So I prayed and asked God fervently to please make it very, very obvious when the right time came...please don't make him suffer, but please make it so obvious I know it's the only merciful thing to do. And He did, and it was the right thing, and it didn't make it any easier except that I KNEW FOR SURE I hadn't either ended his days too soon or made him suffer for my sake.

Posted by: Beth at December 1, 2008 5:33 PM

Just putting my two cents in to say I agree with everyone else. Sorry about Cosy. :-(

Posted by: Brigitte at December 2, 2008 5:45 AM

So sorry about Cosy. . .I remember seeing her on your crop-panted leg long ago.

Posted by: Roxanne at December 2, 2008 8:56 AM

SO sorry to hear about Cosy but she lived a long good mouse lady life it sounds.

I'm with the rest of the bunch. If Tenny is happy and everything else seems to be functioning normally than I'd say let her live too.

Posted by: Lia at December 2, 2008 9:57 AM

I'm so sorry about Cosy, Tulip. I know you loved her. We just lost our new kitten Jinx to some horrible cat virus so we are having Sad Pet Events too...hope Tenny gets better. Or keeps being happy as she is, at least!

Posted by: Amy-Go at December 3, 2008 8:07 PM