Hickory, the hedgehog who is the symbol of this blog and at times its inspiration, even a 'contributor' on occasions, has died. A week ago he suddenly started walking with difficulty, almost dragging his back legs. The next day he had trouble moving at all, and was clearly not a happy creature.
We took him to the vet, who immediately realized, from the colour of his skin, that he was anaemic, probably because of liver trouble, and the smell of his urine indicated he had serious kidney trouble too. There seemed to be no point doing analyses, waiting for the results, trying something that would almost certainly achieve nothing more than prolong his suffering. The poor lad was very ill and old and unhappy and was not going to recover. He could only continue to be scared and in pain. You wonder if it might have been worth a try, but it was surely not. So I gave the order to have him put down. They use the gas before the needle, and he will have felt nothing.
If we had been at the farm, or been able to go there, I would have buried him in one of the places where there are alot of those beetles he liked so much, a kind of dung beetle, but here there is nowhere to do it, so he will be 'recycled' organically.
'Hickory' was his bloggging pseudonym, by the way; he was known to us as Crispulito, and that's how he will remain in out memories.
I don't know if there is a Heaven for hedgehogs- on the whole I should think not- but in any case the point is moot as I'm sure the old lad isn't there. He had no time for asceticism and no concept of right and wrong, as far as I could tell.
He was nearly six years old, which is a respectable age, and he was in good form almost until the end., but still you don't expect it to be so sudden. We shall miss him for many reasons. As he prepared to eat a beetle, in the moment between seeing or smelling it, knowing it was under control, opening his mouth and finally crushing it with his jaws, his face expressed pure pleasure, glee in fact, There was a touch of evil in that look If he had had the right kind of larynx, I'm sure he would have cackled.
We shall never again hear his soft footfall, and the first crunch of the evening, as he came into the living room at about 9 o'clock, to run around our feet and begin the task of spending the night searching for food and drink. He never seemed surprised that it was always there, always varied, always the things he liked, always sufficiently spread around the house to make the hunt more fun. I think he just assumed that that was how things should be. He deserved no less. A hedgehog knows his place, and it's above you.
The title of the post means something like, 'The King is Dead, Long Live the King'. Mrs Hickory, unwilling to contemplate a life without hedgehogs, immediately contacted a breeder in Granada, and we have a baby female, who will be known for blogging purposes as Galatea. There will be photos.