Companion to Chris and Marcie Christensen

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April 20, 2007


I have asked myself this question so many times in the past. Am I prepared to deal with a medical emergency with one of my potbellied pigs...are YOU prepared to deal with an emergency with your potbellied pig? I have always hoped that I was, and I guess I indeed was, physically, just not mentally, not today...I didn't expect my emergency to be George. It's 2 AM and I can't go to sleep. I am still shaking. My heart is so heavy and sad. I wasn't prepared for it to be George. I was sure it would be Chuckles who we would lose this year. He was given 3 to 10 months to live back in January of '06. He is still doing great. Riff, our pig with Spina Bifida, is having some bowel issues (poopie farts). We think he might have intestinal cancer. But George, our always healthy "piss-ant", I wasn't ready to lose him tonight.

I came home from class around 9:30 PM. I took the dog out to go potty and heard one of the "boys" making a funny sound outside. It was cold and rainy, who was outside and why? I found George scrunched up inside his outside house on the ramp, sitting and holding his leg up. He was nearly pounding his head on the wall. I knew right then. I knew in my heart we were going to lose George tonight. Was I prepared for that, "NO WAY". was I prepared to seek medical treatment? I can answer that with a, "yes". Did I have everything I needed in order to get George the medical attention he needed right then? Yes, I did. I was ready for that.

Chris and I pulled out a crate large enough to fit George. Getting him in it was not easy. He could not stand or walk, and he was in a very hard spot to get at. We called UC Davis and asked what we should do. We described his symptoms. could not stand, pushing head into a corner, nearly banging his head into the corner, raising his right foot in the air, almost pawing at the air, and his snout was twisted significantly to the left. This doesn't seem real... I can't believe George is gone, as I am typing this. it's not real is it? George had a massive stroke, or some other type of neurological "event". We decided to take him to UC Davis, but after talking with them and our dear friend Carol, who is an animal communicator (she rushed over at 11:00 PM to be with us), we realized George was too far gone. He was not going to recover from this. Whatever occurred to him tonight was massive, and he was suffering significantly. We made the decision to take him to the 24-hour emergency animal clinic to have him euthanized.

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Once we got to the clinic the vet gave him a very large shot of Valium to try to relax him. George was stressing and fighting everything, he needed to relax. She said that in dogs and some animals, large doses of steroids could help if it were indeed a stroke. Did we want to try this? Would that be fair to George? Money was not the object, but letting him suffer and not be 100% George, wasn't fair either. We called UC Davis back, and spoke to the vet on duty at 11:30 PM. After talking with her we made the hard decision to let George go. Her comments that strokes were rare in pigs but other neurological disorders that occur this quickly, were not. I asked her directly if they had had luck treating these kind of quick onsets that were this massive and her honest answer was, "no not really". The entire time we were outside talking to the vet at UC Davis, George was struggling and suffering inside. Carol was with him, thank goodness. Once we made the decision to let him go... George calmed down immediately. I didn't. I wasn't prepared!! George was supposed to be the pig that would out live them all. He is GEORGE, the "Piss-Ant" damnit!

When the vet gave him the cocktail to put him under so they could administer the euthanasia solution, he went into respiratory distress. This shouldn't have happened. The "event" must have affected that part of his brain. She was able to administer the euthanasia solution and we lost George at about 1 AM. I wasn't prepared to lose George!! I WASN'T damnit!! I'm shaking, crying and confused. this isn't real. He is in our garage right now. It's cold tonight so his body should be ok. I want a necropsy done. I don't want George to die without leaving a legacy. I want us to learn from him, I know he would want this too. So tomorrow, I mean in a few hours, when it's light, we will take him up to UC Davis to find out what killed him. I will ask for his ashes back. I'm not prepared to lose him completely. I'M NOT PREPARED! (Initial results of the necropsy show no "gross lesions". We are awaiting more tests results. Dr. George thinks it might have been some kind of toxic ingestion, a plant or something. However, we have no plants that are toxic in our yard at all.)

I'm not writing this to ask for your condolences. As a matter of fact please don't feel like you have to respond to this email. I know you are all thinking good thoughts for us right now. I'm writing this at 2 AM to share George's life with you and to ask YOU, "are YOU prepared?!" Are you prepared to drag a screaming pig that can't walk into a crate? If there is just one of you at home at the time of the emergency, can you call on someone else to help at midnight? Do you have a crate large enough to get your pig into? How are you going to get the pig AND crate into your vehicle? Together they can weigh a lot, nearly 200lbs or more. Do you have a vehicle to transport this large crate? Do you have a 24-hour emergency vet who will treat your pig? Euthanize your pig if need be? Have you checked with them first? What will you or the clinic do with the body? Do you want the ashes back? Have you made contact with a cremation company that can handle pigs? Can you and will you have a necropsy done? PLEASE DO! It is so important to learn as much as we can about these wonderful animals we live with. Find out if your vet can and will do a necropsy? Then please share the results with Do you have the finances for all of this? I made arrangements with a mobile vet locally who does nothing but home euthanasia for Chuckles when his time comes, we are prepared for that. But I wasn't prepared for George to have this happen to him. I wasn't prepared mentally, but I guess in re-reading this article, I WAS prepared for this emergency physically.

So please, celebrate George's life, and if you are not prepared, PLEASE, PLEASE get prepared NOW, because this will happen to you. I didn't think this would happen to us, not tonight, not now. George was the "piss-ant", he was going to live forever. I think I better try to go to sleep now. I will dream of George and TS Piggliot, playing on the Rainbow Bridge, or should I say knocking each other silly. Good-bye my sweet, "piss-ant" George, I miss you already. I love you!

Marcie Christensen
"I am my pigs' mom!"
President CPPA
P.O. Box 23955
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 937-9045