Harry will always hold a very special
place in my heart.
She came into my life on May 27, 1987
- just a pathetic hunched up bald little cavy. Harry was a Peruvian
(a long-haired breed) but she actually had very little hair.
Instead her scrawny body was covered with hard gray scales.
Living on a diet of birdseed and wilted
lettuce had resulted in severe malnutrition and at 2 years old
the little sow barely weighed a pound. Harry hobbled painfully
due to the scurvy caused by lack of vitamin C. She also seizured
constantly because of intense unbearable itching from the worst
sarcoptic (mange) mite infestation I've ever seen.
Poor Harry had been in this awful condition
for months. When her owners started talking about "blowing
it away" or "taking a hammer to it" a friend of
theirs finally mentioned Harry's plight to me. Naturally I said
I'd take her. When I picked Harry up I was also presented with
her cage and accessories, which I immediately threw out once
I got home. Disgusting! Putridly filthy and smelly, with food
rotting in the bedding!
Harry responded well to a proper diet
and lots of supplemented vitamin C. Before long she was walking
normally and putting on some weight, eventually reaching 2 pounds.
The mange was much more stubborn. Sarcoptic
mites are difficult to kill as they burrow down into the skin,
causing damage and intense irritation. Frequent bathing with
a special conditioning shampoo was necessary to soften and gradually
remove the scales.
A tiny 'sweater' made from a tube sock
top helped protect Harry's soft bald skin from her incessant
scratching. Repeated treatments with a very diluted cattle parasiticide
finally killed off the mites, but it was months before the seizuring
With time and love Harry blossomed into
a beautiful healthy cavy with long wavy red hair. She easily
returned all of the love I gave her and brightened my world for
another 2 years. Although she left me much too soon, Harry will
live warmly in my memory forever.
It was quite a few years after Harry's
death before I formally started Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue in
1993. Harry is always with me, her memory provides inspiration
when dealing with cavies so debilitated it's hard to imagine
they can survive.
This article, the photographs,
and the JPGPR.com logo are © 1993-2002 Vicki Palmer
Nielsen - Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue. If you would like to reproduce
anything from the website, please first e-mail Vicki at JPGPR@aol.com for permission.