This is Sherlock.
She’s my son’s guinea pig, bought as a present for him when he achieved the unprecedented event of scoring 100% on the teacher-assessed creative writing section of his A levels, almost 4 years ago.
She was a little ball of fluff sitting alone in the pet shop, a quizzical look on her face and sniffing at the window, most un-guinea pig-like, because usually they run if you look at them straight.
Sherlock could jump and climb, again a very un-guinea pig manoeuvre. She would climb onto my legs and scale my stomach before settling down for the evening in the crook of my neck, tickling slightly when she moved and nibbling my chin, or my lips if she could reach them, when I made a kissing sound.
Sherlock’s hair grew like billy-oh, and needed regular cuts and even, at one stage this year, a complete beard trim down to her bare bum because it was long and wild and wonderful, so it was matted and dirty and full of hay.
Wild and wonderful could be her nickname.
I’m writing this on Friday afternoon and still, just about, using the present tense for Sherlock. She is currently sat on her owner’s chest, nibbling his beard and resting her head on his hand. She is present tense only until Monday afternoon, when I will do one of the hardest things I think any pet owner has to do, and take her to the vets for one last goodbye.
Sherlock has an inoperable lump causing her pain, right inside her abdomen and around her ovary. The bravest of vets I know (thank you, Claire, for being such a good vet) wouldn’t even try. The stress of the operation, the pain, the worry… well, Sherlock wouldn’t survive.
So this weekend is a sort of Irish Wake for Sherlock. We will hug her, and feed her, hold her, stroke her and treat her to a damn good send off, before finally parting with the best guinea pig David could have had, one that has buried herself deep in his heart and will be there forever.
Pets, you see, are such hygge. They give us unconditional love, they provide support when we’re down. They don’t ask about politics or positions on subjects of the day or even that we stop what we’re doing to notice them… okay, they actually do that last one. They squeak when they want something, and nibble toes placed foolishly nearby. Perhaps we were foolish to go for animals that we knew would be short-lived. Perhaps that cat or dog would have been a better bet, but guinea pigs fit so easily into our lives that we chose them. We’ve had Sherlock for nearly four years, and how one can get tied up so much with an animal that doesn’t talk, and has no common sense I cannot say. But you do, and I know that David will need to hug the other piggies a little closer, find another friend to pick up and plonk on his tshirt, happy to hold them there until they wee.
I will be back, eternally happy again, on Tuesday. But for today, for this weekend, my happiness is tinged with the sadness of knowing this is a last goodbye to a beautiful little friend.
Bless you, beautiful Sherlock. You’ve been a character and I will miss you so much.