Thursday, February 13, 2014
A Donkeys Tale
"Lost" as in died, not as in he wondered into town, and hopped a bus for the warmth of Florida. I only wish he had.
After weeks of brutal sub zero weather, the temps broke yesterday am. We were elated. Almost 20 degrees ABOVE zero. But it was too little too late apparently. When Keith went out to do chores he heard our donkey call to him, not unusual as Doolin often called when he saw us or was hungry or lonely or bored.
But it sounded different and he wasn't standing by the feed shed as normally he does. He was instead around behind the shed lying flat out on the snow.
It's never a good sign when an animal is lying on his side out in the cold.
Keith came in to get me and it was obvious he was in dire shape. Irregular breathing, bright red blood on his nose, glassy eyes but his body warmth was still good. Keith went to get the tractor. While I waited, kneeling in the snow using my body to keep Doolin up right so he could breathe better I felt that he knew we were helping him.
The way he leaned against me--into me--was more than just fatigue. Rubbing him all over, trying to keep his circulation going, trying to encourage him made us both feel better I think. With some pulling and lifting we were able to get him in the tractor bucket. He even fought us a little, kicking his abbreviated legs which was good and gave me hope. False as it was.
With my holding up his head and walking next to the tractor while Keith drove slowly, we got him into our machine shed and I called the vet. Our regular one was gone and the other told me "we don't do donkeys" but they would ask the vet for advice. I was ready to go to town to get antibiotics and steroids as I was sure that was what he needed.
Back to the machine shed to see if we could get him to drink but no. And then just as quietly as I have ever in my life seen an animal or person die, and I have sadly seen many of both, he just stopped living.
It took several seconds for me to realize he was indeed gone. Keith got my stethoscope and I listened but only to confirm what I knew.
Death is a regular part of the farm life. Animals get old, animals go to slaughter and sometimes when the weather is just too much animals succumb. But there is much guilt with this passing. Last week I noticed the bright red blood on Doolins nose and even though pneumonia normally produces frothy PINK sputum I still listened to his lungs and belly.
No crackles, (fluid) no wheezing and looking closer at his nose it seemed it was chapped and sore. I decided it was because of the terrible cold and ice and he was probably nosing around in the snow out in pasture just hoping to find some real green grass.
Even animals get tired of the dried stuff (hay) over the long winter.
I treated his nose with coconut oil and the bleeding improved. Then every other day or so I'd see a little more. But his appetite was good, he was active, he was...himself.
Until he wasn't.
I personally do not believe that animals have souls. When they die they die, But I do believe they have hearts and Doolins was big. A gentle creature from the time we brought him home as a tiny foal as a Christmas gift for our GK's 7 years, he had won all our hearts. Not that he couldn't be annoying. Always in your face whenever you tried to fix a fence or saddle up Ennis. He had to be in the middle of everything!
Many kids got to ride him, many more got to rub his cartoonish face and long fuzzy ears. He was close buddies with our Shepherd Ashland as they spent hours chasing each other back and forth, back and forth in the pasture.
This morning Ennis is standing by the shed by herself. Ashland is laying at her feet ! She looks one way and then the other. I know she is missing her little buddy
She's not the only one.