It was perhaps inevitable.
Rufus passed this evening. He was fine up until about 4, and whatever this was took him out in less than two and a half hours. I am very glad that I took some extra time last night and this morning to enjoy his company. He was, by far, the sweetest, calmest of the Christmas bunch...and I did enjoy my short month with him greatly. In addition to just being a nifty rodent, he helped to ease my hurt over my cat a bit...and for that I'm grateful.
I'm left with a fairly large amount of parental guilt right now. The Christmas present that we were so wonderfully excited about just completely exploded in our faces, and instead of several years of fun my girls received one really harsh life lesson.
I'll be back to fun posts tomorrow, promise.
After speaking extensively with my Dad, we've decided to take the replacement Guinea Pigs back to the store tomorrow. We purchased them (stupidly in hindsight) when we thought that the first death was a fluke, and that the meds would take care of the others. As whatever this illness was obviously was extremely powerful and didn't respond to the antibiotics, we have no guarantee that the cage and supply sterilization was enough to get rid of it. I've spoken with the store manager, and we are also going to return the cage condo and all supplies, and so financially at least it's not as bad as it could have been. (For the record, it's a reputable store that does quarantine new animals and also does vet checks. We honestly don't know what happened or where the problem came from, but the only time Dad's ever seen something similar it was a salmonella taint that came from another store.) At this point the kids - especially the Princess - are fairly traumatized, and I don't know that we'll try Guinea Pigs again. If we do, we're certainly going to wait for a very long time.