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MEMORIAL AND SUPPORT SITES,
Burial Wares: Brisky,
Poffins (UK), The-Kritter-Store
Forums often have Memorials,
UK Pets.co.uk lists cemeteries
Memorial projects such as
this cross-stitch offer an opportunity to work through the grieving
process and make a tribute to your loved one. If your chinchilla has
passed over into that great Andes mountain range in the sky and you'd
like to send us their picture with a few commemorating words, we'll
post it in the Memorial Sites section of this page, per the colored
THE MESSAGE IN MEMORIALS
Also see: Memorial
Take time to read the dedications that relate tragedies, those
deaths aren't in vain as long as they can serve as a forewarning to
others, to keep our beloved chinnies safe. These sad stories serve
to remind of such things as the importance of shuffling feet when
chins are running underfoot, chin-proofing
prior to supervised exercise time, and the necessity of reviewing
the "Checklist" and "Factors to Consider" when
planning to neuter.
ESTATE PLANNING: PREVENT
Yes, it's a morbid thought, but
it's also practical and realistic to make preparations while we CAN
to secure our pet's future in the event of untimely demise. Pets whose
owners die suddenly have been known to suffer neglect,
abuse, to become subjects for vivisectional research or end
up dumped at kill shelters because the surviving relations aren't
prepared or willing to continue providing quality care for these orphaned
That is why estate planning should be a matter of urgent necessity
to every devoted, conscientious chinparent. It's the only way to help
ensure that these precious lives that are so totally dependent on
us will continue to be lovingly cared for when we're gone. The following
links offer information and guides to estate planning:
(planning assistance)/ usatoday.com
(pet trust plan)/ pettasties.com
(establish pet trust)/
DO CHINCHILLAS GRIEVE?
Also see: Chinchilla
Chat Line on the psychological impact of grief
Alone by Second Chance Chins
In a word, YES. Chinchillas are social
animals, in the wild they travel in groups, or "herds."
Most prefer companionship, the company of their own kind. We advise
pairs, it's the easiest way to meet their need for social contact
without involving reproduction. Shortly after the remains have been
put to rest, start looking for another cagemate for the surviving
chinchilla. Chinchillas can become very stressed and anxious, or depressed
and withdrawn, after the death of their cagemate and this can directly
affect their appetite, general outlook and will to live.
In fact, in the period immediately following
a death, it's good to provide the bereaved with a stuffed animal,
just so they'll have something they can sit beside that's soft and
cuddly. Ensure that the stuffed animal (Seward
Ohio Pet Chinchilla's Snuggle
Buns, Fuzz Butt Chins' Snuggle
Bears, etc.) has no tags,
whiskers, strings (they can be cut off) or other loose pieces
that the chinchilla could nibble off and swallow.
Having a stuffed animal to cuddle with can be as consoling for chins
as it is for children.
We, the ChinCare
webmasters, have experienced our share of deaths over the years and
it has always seemed that the ones who got to be there when their
cagemate or partner passed, or at least got to sniff over the body
later, were better able to accept the situation and move on without
excessive grief, stress
and sulking. We spoke with our exotics specialist vet
about this once and she concurred that it is important they see for
themselves and acknowledge the fact that death has occurred. Unless
they see the body, they can't acknowledge the death and their grief
is compounded with the stress of having someone close to them just,
From personal example, we had one boy
pass suddenly on the way to the vet's, even the autopsy we ordered
was vague about cause of death and he was cremated after the autopsy.
His mate (Njal was a neutered male),
Fresca, never got to acknowledge his death, to her his fate was unknown
and as a result she spent the next few weeks sitting in the cage corners-
sulking, listless, and defensive when approached.
It was as if she suspected that there may be some imminent danger
to her own well-being, or perhaps she was just protecting their territory
until Njal could return. We believe that if Fresca had the opportunity
to see the body and acknowledge his death when it transpired, that
her grieving process would have been completed and put behind her
that much sooner.
DEATH THROES: A CHIN'S FINAL MOMENTS
Sometimes we're there when our beloved chin
passes over the rainbow bridge, sometimes not. The most important
thing to bear in mind when we are there and our chin is in his very
last moments is that this is HIS time, and our attention and efforts
should be focused on comforting him and easing his departure, not
on our own grief. To clarify, this article is about a chin's VERY
final moments, what it looks like when death is imminent and nothing
can bring him back. If there is ANY chance that the chin could benefit
from the immediate attention of an exotics specialist vet,
he should be rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic without delay.
The best predictor of whether a chin may be in decline is knowlege
of a pre-existing condition, i.e., if he's old, has suffered illness
or injury, has experienced an abrupt, major change that could have
shock (not a common problem, but it can
happen), etc. Signs of decline include: seeking lower levels of
the cage, general apathy and unwillingness to move, acting weak or
wobbly, but take note that these signs when taken out of context can
indicate a myriad of other conditions, including mere sleepiness.
Chinchillas can "wind down" very quickly, much like a wind-up
doll that's slowing down before it stops. They do seem to realize
when this is occurring, sometimes it's as if they've resigned themselves,
but they may look surprised and frightened.
The very final moments are at hand when the chief symptom manifests
itself: the chin is gasping for air through his mouth. Chins
normally breathe through their nose, when they're breathing through
their mouth it's a desperate attempt to take in air, the veterinary
designation for this is "agonized breathing" and the chin
may even paw at his mouth a few times and make hiccuping noises or
little painful sounding cries. He may go into seizures before going
limp, at which point he'll feel like jelly, offering no resistance,
making no attempt to assume motor control and he may urinate a drop
or two as muscle control completely relaxes.
The first time we witnessed death throes was with Kavee, who is mentioned
in our Dedication.
We didn't know what to expect, didn't realize what was happening,
and we were just plain hysterical with concern and grief. Having witnessed
chinchilla deaths many times now over the course of years
of doing rescue work, if we could go back and change our early response
to our chins' death throes, we certainly would. We'd make it easier
on the chin as he passed, so that his final moments would be calm,
quiet, comfortable and loving rather than exposed to the sound of
weeping and wailing and being put through futile revival attempts
that were surely distressing, as we tried to reverse the inevitable.
Again, this article is not to insinuate that a chin who is struggling
and needs emergency vet
care should be allowed to die without treatment, but there is a point
at which nothing can bring a chin back, and once agonized breathing
is underway then that point has been reached. Once agonized breathing
has begun, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to upwards of a
half hour for the very last gasp to leave the body, sometimes there
is a very long pause between gasps. The chin should be made as comfortable
as possible, preferably held in his chinparent's arms so that his
head is slightly elevated, and there should be minimal if any noise
and confusion about him so that his final moments will be ones of
peace and tranquility.
Unless a stethoscope is present with which to listen for a heartbeat
and determine for certain when the chin has finally passed, we strongly
recommend waiting at least an hour after the last gasp to be certain
that death has occurred before the chin is buried or cremated.
WORDS OF COMFORT AT PARTING
Chinchillas may not understand our language, but they do know
when we're trying to tell them something. A soft voice, a gentle,
caressing hand can go a long way in communicating with such intelligent,
perceptive animals. Even if they don't understand the words we speak,
making the effort still counts because they know that we cared enough
to try, that we did our best to be there for them in our own way.
Ultimately, the last moment of bonding
is probably as consoling for the chinparent as it is for the chin.
If your chinchilla is nearing the end and you have the chance to speak
with him before his spirit departs, tell him what Heaven will be like
"... A place with no cages, where all the chinchillas frolic
happily on a superior replica of the Andes mountains. It's always
pleasantly cool with a soft breeze that circulates the scent of delectables
served at the Roadstop Raisin Lounges that dot the landscape: clear,
cold water, a variety of fragrant hays, dried fruit, herbs,
every tantalizing treat imaginable. And eat all you want, in Heaven
you won't get the runs! Naturally, all the clouds are sprinkled with
Blue Sparkle Dust for unlimited celestial dustbathing..."
ChinCare webmasters and Lori E
ChinCare is dedicated to the enduring
memory of three exceptional chinchillas: Cervantes, Kavee and Gwen.
Shortly after their deaths, we decided to create a chinchilla care
directory where chinparents could get answers
from chinchilla care resources across the www. Perhaps if we'd had
the same in our time of need, then we could have done more for our
precious chinkiddies. In our hearts we will always cherish these unforgettable
lives that passed into the Elyssian Hay Fields before their time...
Cervantes lingered for six months after
his neutering, never the same again in health or spirit until the
angels finally took him. This was our first experience with neutering,
with our first vet,
who was an exotics specialist without prior experience in neutering
chinchillas but we suspect the problem was that Cervantes had an allergic
reaction to the anesthesia.
Our reason for surmising this is that when Cervantes' son was neutered,
he had a similar bit of wooziness, unbalance, almost retardation that
thankfully passed after the first day of recovery. Since that first
neutering we moved and changed vets and have had over two dozen successful
neuterings with an exotics specialist vet
who had experience in neutering chinchillas before we started seeing
her (DVM Glikis-Scott, was Fernandez, of the Birmingham
Veterinary Clinic in MI).
Kavee was brutally attacked by his cagemate
and best friend after a third male was introduced and everyone seemed
to be getting along. He died a few days later despite emergency vet
care. From this experience
we learned something about the nature of chinchilla group interactions
and cagemate conflicts,
in particular that males are more likely to get along for the long
term if kept in groups of no more than two.
Gwen was killed on the same day the Twin Towers fell in NYC (09-01-01).
Her neck was snapped when she attempted to jump off a 15" wheel
that had spokes on the sides. We put that wheel in the trash immediately
and have been outspoken about wheel
safety ever since.