Saturday, June 7, 2014

• Burnham is the Newest Angel

Guinea pig Burnham was a "foster fail"—an animal that a foster parent adopts. Burnham's mom is one of my pet sitting clients.

"I think of Burnham and taking care of him as so typical of what Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue (MGPR) is all about, and why so many of us fosterers are drawn to this form of service," said Burnham's mom, a MGPR volunteer. "While there are many lovely and sweet piglets in our care, we also have the Burnhams of the guinea pig world—they come to us with serious health conditions, as well as quirky personalities and hostile behaviors that make them difficult to adopt out. Burnham was all of these, terrified of or hostile to other guinea pigs, and chomping without predictable cause at human fingers, faces, and noses. I don't know how much of this was due to his illness and discomfort. But he was unadoptable; so after fostering him for months I took him in, finally, as my own."

After she adopted Burnham, his mom wanted answers to a concern she'd had: his small size and weight. She took him to the University of Pennsylvania Ryan Veterinary Hospital, which, as a veterinary school, has CT scan technology for sonograms. (Most vets in the D.C. area don't have that technology.) The results were devastating: Burnham was riddled with aggressive liver cancer.

"I was shocked to learn he was terminally ill," said his mom. "But I'm glad I was able to provide him with hospice care. In his final days, Burnham was so loving, and wanted constantly to be held and stroked. I assured him that there were many MGPR piglets who had proceeded him to Heaven who would welcome him and show him the ropes, as well as my family members who had passed on who loved animals, especially my father. I asked him to, in turn, take care of guinea pigs who are being neglected on earth, and those who will eventually join him in Heaven . . ."

"Burnham is the newest angel."

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