Monty and Mia came to the rescue with breeder's tags on their ears. Generally good-natured, they had some hallmark characteristics of guinea pigs that hadn't received a lot of attention and socialization. Still, they warmed up to Cindy and the other humans who held them.
While Mia proved quickly to be Miss Social Butterfly, chatting it up with her neighbors, actively watching all that went on around her, and engaging with the humans, Monty was comparably quieter, stand-offish. Kept to himself, and Mia, most of the time. Responded well to affection when he was picked up, but didn't work the room for it either. Given the environment he'd come out of, it was plausible that he'd be reserved. Given the extroversion of his mate, it was plausible that he'd be introverted -- that's often how the dynamics shake out in pairs.
Still, Cindy occasionally wondered if something might be wrong with Monty. Guinea pigs are very good at hiding symptoms of illness; sometimes the only (ambiguous) clue that something might be brewing is that a pig becomes quiet, reclusive. But not having a true baseline for his temperament, we couldn't be sure.
Cindy got Monty neutered, and things rolled along well -- until what appeared to be an abscess developed at the neutering incision site. One course of antibiotic proved to be ineffective, so a second course with a different antibiotic was started and surgery was expected early in the week. Through it all, Monty seemed to have some fight in him; he did his best with (syringe) feedings, but Cindy wasn't certain how much strength he had or if his will to live was strong enough to make up for a lack of physical strength.
On the last Saturday morning of May, as Cindy was preparing to go to a memorial service for a family member, she picked up Monty to check on him -- only to discover that the abscess had ruptured. She held the poor little guy over the sink as blood and other...stuff...drained out of the abscess. A call to the vet, an appointment scheduled.
When she took him in, the vet rushed Monty to emergency surgery. Knowing she wouldn't be able to bring him home after surgery that night, Cindy drove home. As she and I washed water bottles, we silently hoped that Monty would be okay.
The vet called from the operating room. The problem at the neutering site was not an abscess, but an infection that had spread from the real problem -- an abscess in his stomach, which had eaten clear through the abdominal lining and wall. The problem clearly had started before he ever came to the rescue. There was only one decision that could be made. Monty was never brought out of anesthesia, and passed peacefully into the next world.
There are a lot of wishes that things would have turned out differently...but wishes won't bring Monty back. So instead, we're turning our wishes in a different direction.
When Monty and Mia arrived at the rescue, Mia was pregnant. At the time, we were disappointed by the human carelessness that led to her getting pregnant while she was still so small. In the wake of Monty's loss, though, we find ourselves wishing that Mia gives birth to a boy...a mini Monty.