We had Ginger for 5½ years, and I believe that she and Paws were 3-4 years old when we got them in January of 2007, so they did live out an "average" lifespan (usually given as 4-8 years, with some making it to 12) with us, and lived to reasonably "ripe old ages" of 7-9 years. Last summer, Paws had a "medical condition" that required a trip to an emergency vet (it was a Sunday night) out in the suburbs that ended up being one-way, but Ginger just sort of broke down over time. The Wife thinks she was having a series of strokes, as Ginger was progressively losing use of her limbs, one back foot, the other back foot, and recently even one of her front paws (she was able to turn around in her "tent", so she must have been able to push with one). Her last month or two required us bringing her food several times a day, since she could no longer get to her hay bale, her pellet dispenser, or the dish of carrots, celery, romaine, and occasional berries and melon bits that she'd get a couple of times a day. She was an enthusiastic eater right up to the end, however, happily taking a grape from me on Saturday after we gave her a bath (also necessary every few days, given how she wasn't moving from one spot much).
As sad as we are about losing Ginger, her passing was, perhaps, easier than that of her sister. In that case it was all of a sudden, with something that she very likely wasn't going to survive a day with if we didn't rush her off to the vet. With Ginger, she faded away over a number of months, and the end had been evidently near for quite a while. It did feel good to be able to interact with her (primarily feeding her, which she greatly appreciated) right up to the end, but it still hurts.
Little piggy Ginger ... RIP.