When did Heidi join your family?
4 years ago
What does your family love most about Heidi?
She has a wonderful disposition – relaxed and chilled. When we come home from a hectic and stressful day, cuddling with Heidi is the most relaxing thing we can do. She’s also a great big sister to Nellie and took her under her wing as soon as we brought Nellie home a year ago.
Have you always had pets? If so were there any favourites and why?
We were hooked on the intelligence and loving nature of guinea pigs almost instantly. When Rosie died of old age, we didn’t have to think long about whether to get another guinea pig. That’s when Heidi joined our family at the tender age of 2 weeks, together with her sister Millie who unfortunately got sick and died 2 years ago. We then brought Nellie home a year ago so that Heidi would again have a companion, something that is very important to guinea pigs – they are herd animals and can get lonely.
Guinea pigs are so smart that they recognize certain sounds, like the fridge, cooking, etc. and then start squeaking and begging for food. They are fun to play and cuddle with. They each have their own personality, like Heidi is very laid back while Nellie is more hyperactive and adventurous.
What happened to Heidi?
Heidi had a bladder stone. This was discovered when we noticed blood in her pee and a subsequent inability to pee and poop. In addition to being painful, this can be absolutely deadly for guinea pigs and requires immediate medical attention. We knew this since our previous guinea pig Rosie also had a bladder stone at one point. It’s a common problem in guinea pigs, particularly females.
We noticed this problem on Thursday evening before the Easter long weekend. We were very distraught because the long weekend meant our vet was unavailable for 4 days – too long to leave Heidi without medical attention.
We phoned around to several vet clinics but very few have experience with and are willing to attend to guinea pigs. Animal Emergency responded positively and we rushed Heidi to them on Thursday night at around midnight. We spent several hours there while they took x-rays and administered pain medication. When they discovered the bladder stone on the x-ray, we decided to leave Heidi there so that she could pee with the help of a catheter. Animal Emergency looked after her for the next several days until our regular vet opened their office and we could discuss the best course of action with them. We scheduled surgery, took Heidi home, but had to bring her back to Animal Emergency when the bladder stone moved to completely block Heidi’s urethra before the surgery could take place. They again inserted a catheter, Heidi had her surgery and Animal Hospital looked after her for several nights afterwards to ensure she recovered safely.
How did you decide where to take her?
We didn’t know Animal Emergency before this incidence but had to find a place that was comfortable with guinea pigs. Most vets/animal hospitals take in cats and dogs, but few take in guinea pigs.
How were you feeling on the way to The Animal Emergency Ottawa?
We were so anxious as we did not know the vets at Animal Hospital and whether they could actually help Heidi. Heidi is a family member for us and the thought of her being in pain was upsetting.
At what point did you know everything was going to be okay?
Dr. Pelot was such a caring vet and shared our concern for Heidi’s well-being. She was very good in communicating about the challenges and best options. When we left several hours after our first visit, we knew Heidi was in good and caring hands. Later visits resulted in Dr. Lima taking care of Heidi, as well all the staff members who clearly care so much about the pets in their care. It was a bit touch and go for 2 weeks until Heidi was well on her way to recovery but the doctors and technicians at Animal Emergency were great in communicating with us and our regular vet. This helped a great deal in reducing our anxiety and feeling like it was a real team effort to get Heidi well again.
Any final thoughts on the Animal Emergency?
Animal Emergency will definitely be our emergency vet of choice. They create such a caring environment for the pets and owners and do an excellent job of communicating with our vet to ensure all critical information is available instantly. While no pet owner looks forward to being in a situation where they require animal emergency services, the reality is that we’ll likely need them at some point. When we do, Animal Emergency is there for us and it’s comforting to know that.