Early Tuesday morning, about 2am, my little pig Monty died in my arms. I felt his last breath on my cheek. He looked so peaceful when he finally died, his spasms and seizures over. He was a brave little pig and really fought hard against the poison the vets think was ranging in his body, causing him to basically bleed to death from the inside out. I haven’t stopped crying in the last 24 hours and I’m sure it will be a few more days before the fountains stop. To be honest, my relationship with Monty is the first close relationship I’ve had which has ended in death. I’ve known acquaintances who’ve died and my grandparents as well but they were all slightly distant relationships and many of them died when I was young. I’m not trying to say that pets are more important than people but I’m sure you get my drift.
I guess I’m writing this mostly for myself as I don’t really expect people to understand how one can love a pig. After all, he was an uncommon pet and, unfortunately, no one except Josée and I spent enough time with him to see how sweet he was, how he loved us and communicated with us (pigs can make up to 20 different noises you know!!) and how his cute little habits, like poking his head out of the dog house when we came home or knocking over the metal food bowl so we’d let him in at the door or sneaking away to a quiet corner to eat a bun, grew on us til he held a most special place in our lives. Some people couldn’t get their heads around the fact we had a pet pig and he lived in the house at night, just like our dogs and cats. Some people experienced the dreaded Monty nip as he tried to keep his place in our social hierarchy; but they didn’t see the intimate nuzzles he gave us, the endless times he would curl up and spoon us, grunting and oinking softly as we rubbed behind his ears or along his (rather ponderous) belly.
Our vets and their staff, at Shamrock, were wonderful, very supportive and concerned, as were my parents and our friend Lynn. Monty was near death Monday morning, his red blood count at 10 when 40-45 is normal. Joan and Saskia said if it dipped below 10, life was not sustainable. Through a combination of treatments, they managed to raise his count by late Monday afternoon to 15, an increase they said was encouraging. We took him home Monday evening, scared but a little more optimistic. We fed him Gatorade, trying to help re-hydrate him and he gulped down syringe after syringe, obviously thirsty for the fluids and nutrients. He had a few min-seizures or spasms but these last just seconds and then he relaxed. Eventually, he started to breathe more regularly, even snoring gently a few times – as sign of improvement we thought. Around 2am, Monty started into a seizure from which he just couldn’t recover. I told him he could die if he needed to, that he didn’t need to fight anymore, that he didn’t owe us anything; anthropomorphizing, I know, but I loved him and I think he knew that even if he didn’t understand my words. He started to hold his breath between spasms and then finally took one big breathe, exhaled over my cheek and he was gone. I never knew the meaning of the expression broken heart until that moment but I do now.
I lay with Monty, soaking his peaceful, smiling face with my tears. Mum and Dad arrived and gave us some hugs, as they’d done at the vet in the day time. They didn’t say much and didn’t need to as just their support was nice. We wrapped Monty in his blanket and I slept in the room with him; Josée slept with Tegan and Jack, our dogs, who were aware something had happened but weren’t quite sure what. This morning, I got up and in the rain, dug a grave for Monty, a nice spot on the ridge near our ponds. I think we’ll plant a dwarf apple tree on his grave because he loved apples! Mum and Dad came back down and helped us move Monty to his grave; it was a very sad moment but I’m glad we buried him on our place. Maybe I’ll put a bench up beside the apple tree as well for us to sit and reflect on the fun and loving times we had with Monty.
My grief is made worse by the tremendous sense of guilt I have. Monty stopped eating on Friday and that should have been the number one warning sign but I downplayed it, thinking he maybe had a cold or just was feeling under the weather. I should have taken him to the vet at that point to be sure and, while Monty probably would, I will never forgive myself. Everyone says that I shouldn’t feel guilty, that it was “just his time” or a cliché of that ilk but they really don’t know and it doesn’t make it any easier, nor does it ease my feelings. My guilt may never leave me but I know in time I will be able to remember Monty without the pain. Until then, I will keep my pain beside me as it serves as a reminder of how much I loved Monty.
Thank you for your messages and condolences. We have no children but Monty was our baby. I think he had a short but sweet life with us and we were blessed to have him in our lives. Rest, my little pig Monty – I’ll always love you.