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Sometimes sobbing helps.

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Sometimes sobbing helps.

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Ghost » Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:52 pm


It's funny, I became fascinated with David's heard of feeder guinea pigs about half a year ago. From the beginning, I've know they were feeders, so I knew I should not get attached to any one individual. Considering them as a herd, I just find them so fascinating. David's GPs are hands-off herd raised, so once the GPs pass the baby stage, they resist being handled. When any person picks up an adult, they act like they are going to be killed. Because of this, I avoid handling them. I can however let them come and sniff at my fingers, and touch them a bit (remembering not get attached). David does most of the dispatching, but I have done a few, so I do know what it is like to kill a guinea pig. If there are too many male GPs in the heard, they will scratch and bite one another. David uses culling to control the population of aggressive males.

I enjoy watching them. There main food is GP pellets, but they just love any kind of fibrous leaf like grass or corn husks. When I put food in the court yard. The GPs make sounds and it alerts the others that there is good food around. The GPs then barrel out of the shed down the ramp towards the food, where they start munching. The GPs have so many different color patterns in there fur. Some patterns just seam to stick-out in my mind. Many months ago, I noticed one with a brown head topped by a cool tuft of white hair. He seamed to always be in the the first four or five that barreled out the door. When I put grass out most all the GPs older than 4 weeks would come out, however other times, most GPs seam to stay inside the shed. There were about %10 or so that hang out in the courtyard on warm days. The cool GP was one of those, I often saw him just hanging around in the courtyard.

goodby.jpg
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A month or so ago I noticed the cool GP with some scratches on him. To get a better look, I had to catch him. I'm sure the GPs don't understand me, but for my own peace-of-mind, I sometimes talk at them. I told the cool GP, "Your time may be up today, but it is not going to be right now.". An examine reviled the scratches to be rather minor and healing well. I thought David might cull the cool one due to his stretches. I was ok with this, because every GP was potential food like any other GP. I wound-up catching the cool GP several times over the month, each time saying the thing about your time won't be now. Old scratches would heal up fine, but next catch ,there would be new scratches.

The scratches were never bad enough that I thought he needed to be culled. But, I started worrying that being caught and released was stressful for him, and that just getting it over might be best. Well a few days ago, I was getting ready to catch the GP again, so I said "Your time maybe up today, but it wont be right now.". I went to grab him, and I got close up look at his scratches, and they seemed worse that before. I did not actually catch him, but I did say, "It looks like your time might be up today.".

I decided that I would recommend the cool GP to David for culling. I started chatting with David, when Mike came in. David told Mike, he would "take" two GPs for Mike to feed two cats. This seamed the best time to tell David about the cool GP. Rather than having to make two trips, it seamed most efficient for me to pick two GPs in a 5gal bucket for David to dispatch.

I quickly caught the cool GP and put him in the bucket. I then put a similar sized one in. As it turned out, I did not know which felines were going to be feed (I knew it was not the biggest ones). I worried that they might be too big. David told me he needed medium size GPs. The cool GP was not the biggest one, but might have been a medium large GP. I thought, I should get a smaller one just-in-case. So I swapped the other GP. But looking in the bucket I noticed that the one I had chosen have really cool color pattern, I thought I would like to see when he got older. So I swapped it out again. After that I thought was it really unfair to make life and death decisions in such an arbitrary way. I decided to JUST STOP IT and bring David the two I had.

Chatting with Mike as he was feeding the critters, I asked and he told me the dead GPs where in a basket. I told him I just had to look out of a morbid sense of curiosity. I showed him the cool one with the white tuft on his head, and told Mike I was probably going to miss him abit. I did notice that the scratches were cuts that were deeper than I originally thought. It did seam a good day for him to die. The sizes worked out well, the cool GP went to the bigger feline, the smaller to the smaller. The cat would bat the GP around and chase it, a good enrichment activity for the cat. The feline then picked up the limp carcass by the neck with it swinging from her jaws. She paraded around with it as if she had taken out the biggest gazelle in the herd. She then hid in the corner, behind some bamboo, there was much crunching as she eat. I felt that the cool GP had fulfilled his role in the food chain. The role he had been born into.

Later on, I was feeding the GP herd and I could not help myself to expect the cool GP to come bolting out the door. I had to remind myself that he would not be coming out.

The next day, I was alone at work doing some clean-up, and I couldn't seem to get the cool GP off-my-mind. I tried thinking how he fulfilled his role on the-circle-of-life, and how proud the cat was strutting around with his limp carcass hanging from her jaws. I thought about how his meat and fat would nourish the feline. I even thought about how good the GP I eat tasted and that the cat surly enjoyed him. Still, a could not shake the blues. I thought about forcing myself to cry, but I thought it would be campy. But the moment came and I just allowed myself to sob with gentle mummer, just me and my broom in the corner. Not too loud, no actual tears. The fantastic thing is that I had an overwhelming feeling of acceptance. I now fell complete acceptance of the cool GP's role in the-circle-of-life and he fulfilled his destiny.
You have to do the most good for the most. You must remember that a few won't make it. Don't be ashamed to shed a tear for the ones lost along the way, we will not hold it against you. Just remember "the herd goes on".

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Re: Sometimes sobbing helps.

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Ozarkansas » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:23 pm


Well, rabbits die. And I used to cry about every single one. And maybe it did make me feel better, in fact I know it did. :oops: But there comes a time when it doesn't. That time for me came 1 and a half years ago when I lost a doe very tragically. It took me 3 days of grieving and I admit crying to realize it. :oops: On the 3rd day I thought "Suck it up! Knock it off! Rabbits die! And if you go crying like this over every single one you are going to be a wreck!" Since then I've made a conscious effort to not cry about dead rabbits, it doesn't mean one or two tears don't fall, it doesn't mean I'm not sad, it doesn't mean I don't care. But I found I was hurting myself more than I was helping, and that doesn't happen anymore! Rabbits still die, I'm still sad, and I still care, but I don't let it ruin my life! Because crying is not going to make the rabbit come back!
BTW The cool GP is truly beautiful! I admit I probably would have took him home for myself in a situation like that! But things happen in life, things die, and it's good to know he served a purpose!
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Re: Sometimes sobbing helps.

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Ghost » Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:15 pm


Ozarkansas wrote: Well, rabbits die. And I used to cry about every single one. And maybe it did make me feel better, in fact I know it did. :oops: But there comes a time when it doesn't. That time for me came 1 and a half years ago when I lost a doe very tragically. It took me 3 days of grieving and I admit crying to realize it. :oops: On the 3rd day I thought "Suck it up! Knock it off! Rabbits die! And if you go crying like this over every single one you are going to be a wreck!" Since then I've made a conscious effort to not cry about dead rabbits, it doesn't mean one or two tears don't fall, it doesn't mean I'm not sad, it doesn't mean I don't care. But I found I was hurting myself more than I was helping, and that doesn't happen anymore! Rabbits still die, I'm still sad, and I still care, but I don't let it ruin my life! Because crying is not going to make the rabbit come back!


I guess everyone deals with the death of a this sort of death in different ways. Even when a death is not an accident, but a planned-out event, it can cause hurt inside. In your case the crying was making things worse. In my case, I have no more pain when thinking about the cool GP. It is all respect for the-circle-of life, respect for his life that was given and a bit of "oh well, he's gone".

When I did meat rabbits with my neighbor 10 years ago, I dispatched two rabbits in one day then 6 weeks later, I dispatched two more rabbits in one day. Even though they were born "furry edible", I still had real tears both times. When processing the meat, I was too busy to be sad. It was only a few days after processing that the loss of life started to weigh on my mind. I used different recipes to make rabbit soup of them all and enjoined each soup. In those cases, the tears helped me to reach acceptance. The experience has lead to me only eating meat 4-6 times a week.

As you said, tears don't always help and sometimes it can lead to people just wallowing in a pit of there own sadness. I guess that is what makes one person different from anyone else.

I just like to have a place where I can post about the death of a "furry edible" where people can understand. It seems that when it comes to issues of guinea pigs, most people I meet in person fall into one of two camps. The OMG! how can you be ok with someone killing a guinea pig just to feed some other creature. The other camp says that GPs are some stupid unfeeling creature, and nobody should care whether it lives or dies.

Ozarkansas wrote: BTW The cool GP is truly beautiful! I admit I probably would have took him home for myself in a situation like that! But things happen in life, things die, and it's good to know he served a purpose!


Introspection (examining one's on thoughts) can sometimes be a sticky-trap of the mind for me. I can't stop asking myself why was the cool GP different than any other herd member. The GPs live in a herd and act as a herd. Sure there are individuals, the greatest differences between herd members is some are male and some female. Other than that, the differences in behavior are relative minor. The cool GP was just another member of the herd. My own thoughts were the only thing that made him special. As you can see from the pic, they all have different markings. I just happened to like his markings, and was able to pick him out from the crowd.

A week earlier, David's biggest cat eat a GP at the front of the cage as I watched intently. I saw the dead GP before David put it in, it was not one I recognized, I experienced NO pain when thinking of the death of that one (just one poor GP fulfilling his role). I think the one I eat is in the pic (not 100% sure), same level of saddened as the cat eaten one. This all tells me that was only my own mind that made the cool GP special.

When I selected the second GP to die, it was sort of strange that I did not select the one with a pretty pattern. Why was the pattern going to save his life? Was it fair to the one that did die? I the only answer to the fairness question is I can reach is NO. I guess when it comes to creatures that are literally that far-down-on-the-food-chain life can never be fair.

As far as keeping the cool GP, remember, saving it would have only been trading his life for a different GP. Two GPs still needed to die that day. The cool GP was heard raised, and did not cuddle with humans, so he would have needed a different herd (even knowledgeable pet GP people realize that keeping a lone GP is a bad idea). Maybe the dynamic of a different herd could have kept him from fighting. What little info I have on "working herds" is that many times a bigger herd will have less fighting (per individual) than smaller herds. This sounds paradoxical, but in the crowd GPs can avoid the enemies better, or so the theory goes.

__________ Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:15 pm __________

I don't want to be too critical of David, but I sometimes get annoyed with him. I don't think David takes the GPs seriously enough. I do want to give him the benefit of the doubt. David has many other creatures that he to ensure that his staff is caring for. This means the GPs are "just the food" they get a low priority for his attention. When it comes down to it, I am really the only person who can follow individual members of the heard and accept there role in the food chain.

I talked to another staff member and she said, in the beginning she was interested in watching GPs. As it happened, she became too attached to individual GPs. She would even make request to David not to cull certain individuals. David really has not the time or inclination to track individual GPs. David just has hungry creatures to feed. After a few times her do-not-kill requests were ignored, she had to stop relating to them. She no longer watches the GPs, she just feeds them and moves on. The pain of attachment is just too great for her.

As I watch the GPs, there some that get a nickname. I think it might be easier if they did not get nicknames, but the names seem to pop in my head once I start to recognize them. It is mostly ones with unusual patterns. With over 40 GPs most never get nicknames. Sometime when I catch myself trying to give a young GP a nickname, I tell myself the nickname should be "Snake Food".

The GPs live in one big herd as described HERE. Living in such a herd, David does not track the GPs. He is sometimes amazed that I know which ones have fight scratches when it is hard to see because scratches are covered by fur. It's not that hard, once I recognize the individual over multiple observations. I know who is who and, who is getting worse. Because I track the GPs, I can make suggestions such as culling "Mother White Spot" well in advance. David on the other hand does not seam to acknowledge the idea of planning weeks ahead for this. He just culls as he needs the food. David does appreciate me helping direct the culling when it makes the herd stronger.

I do experience loss when some of the nicknamed GPs fulfill there role in the food chain. I have developed a coping mechanism where I allow myself to feel the pain and experience the loss. Somehow, I can limit how much sadness I have. I would feel cold and evil if I were not to acknowledge that a beautiful and unique creature lost his/her life today. But, I have manager to temper that sadness with the fact that the death has purpose. I have three ways to deal with the necessity and consequences of the death.

The first line of thought based on the necessity/practicality of the death, Many creatures have nutritional requirements that are hard to meet without fresh kills. Also while the GP does die, his atoms and molecules go on to continue on in the circle of life. So there is a death, but life continues on. A cat was fed and those fats and proteins continue the force of life. When I ate White Streak, his atoms are now a part on my body. Humans do not need a lot of meat, but going completely vegan is a very difficult balancing act to get proper nutrition.

The second line of thought is that while the actual guinea pigs live and die, they make up a sort of superorganism. The guinea pigs make up a herd that continues on even after members are "retired" from the heard. This is where I developed the phrase "the herd goes on". The GP body dedicates it's resources to reproduction instead of intelligence, but this works well for guinea pigs. When I think of the heard itself as a organism, I gain a different perspective. What drove it home to me in a rather stark way, is just how fast the herd settles back down to it's old ways after a few herd members are killed. I did find it unsettling the first time I realized how little a cull effects the surviving herd members. Low intelligence renders GPs incapable of Observational learning but at the same time they have little concerned at the deaths of there herd members. When it comes down to it, culling done properly can make the herd as a whole healthier. Death is a powerful tool when used properly does have a net positive effect on the superorganism. Like when a scalpel is used to remove unhealthy tissue. The creature as a hole is better off. This is true when a few healthy cells die along with the diseased cells.

The third line of thought is that the animals in David's heard live a pampered existence compared to many animals in the meat industry. The GPs get to live a life where they do what comes naturally to them. David gets meat donated to him. I might see a GP when it is alive, but how is that different that the animals that wound up in the freezer section of the supermarket. It is all based on the saying "out of sight out, out of mind". GPs dying is bad because I saw them alive, but frozen chicken is cool, because [insert phony reason here]. I hear the GPs squeal with delight when I bring them fresh weeds. They have dry food to sustain them, but they "get happy" when they see me with the fresh stuff. They may not be the smartest creatures at David's place, but they do experience joy in there life. There is the stress of a cull, but fresh veggies and all that passes. It might be easier for me to ignore the animals that were killed elsewhere, but I can not justify feeling different about it.

I suppose that this sort of reflection is why I can take pleasure in watching the herd but accept the role they take in the food chain. The other staff at David's place ether ignore the GPs or try as hard as they can not to think about the fact that the GPs are part of what David feeds his other creatures. I still remember David hiding the dead GPs from me long after I knew what the GPs were for. I felt he was treating me like a child. I also don't tell David about my nicknames for the GPs, because I don't think he would understand that I am capable with dealing with the death part when it is "someone I recgnize". I suppose Dave is used to people who would either ignore the GPs or who are unable to deal with the death of the GP herd.


Ps. My previous post in this thread was on Sun Jan 28, 2018. Th date seams to get lost when I post twice in a row, with no other user in between.
You have to do the most good for the most. You must remember that a few won't make it. Don't be ashamed to shed a tear for the ones lost along the way, we will not hold it against you. Just remember "the herd goes on".

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