I remember reading that on a blog many years ago. It rang so true that it gave me pause. Yes, part of life is death. Its inevitable, it will be to all of us, and the reason we need to stop and just be, and truly live in this very moment... but I digress. . When you have animals or in our case a rescue, live animals will be dead animals at some point and this is the truth. It seems so distasteful to some to even bring up this subject, have we become so removed from real life that a basic truth ' death' is taboo to talk about even in animals, even to people that eat animals, they never want to talk about how that beautiful steak was once a living, breathing adorable animal like Albert? Don't worry this isn't a vegan post... but a death post.
As a rescue we say goodbye a lot. To injured and orphan wildlife, to hospice old dogs, to old farm animals. We get a dark humor to get us through bad days, as do our other friends in rescue and in the veterinary field. We love these animals, we care for them night and day, in all sorts of weather, we mix special foods, we medicate with this tonic and that. Always searching ways to make their time on earth a little longer a little less painful as they age. But when is it enough? When do we stop and decide to help our animal friend transfer to death? I often blame the pharmaceutical companies that have convinced us to hold back time and disease with a little pill, a special formula and when I post about this and that as my animals age, folks meaning well will tell me of this drug or this herb that will hold this force bigger than all of us, back. Is it advertising or marketing that has convinced us that youth is the only thing of value in humans and animals? I want to scream at the top of my lungs and say its ok to grow old, its ok for our animals to also grow old as well. So many times I've had people call me for advice on how to stop aging on their dog - should they do a transfusion? Should they buy this tonic or that, to stop the old bones from creaking to help their friend live longer, how to avoid growing old and then dying. Old we will grow and that's a fact. We need to step back, and look at our animals and think long and hard what to do as they age and their quality of life diminishes. We need to think that they live in the moment. The don't think of future or getting better. They are in the "NOW" only. We have a duty as their guardians to make sure this moment is pain free and happy, because this moment is their forever, their NOW and their TOMORROW.
This week we had that step back here at the rescue. We stopped everything to look at our oldest and most unhealthy animal friends. We watched and talked, and realized it was 'time' for Millie as her founder in her feet took a terrible turn for the the worst with this last heat wave. She was in chronic pain and it was time to set her free. We then looked at Remington, that beautiful draft horse that was so stoic, he too barely survived the last heat wave. His huge heart just kept trying to live on even tough his hip hurt him so and he could no longer sweat, we could see in his eyes that he was scared when he fell. It broke our hearts. We wish we could see these animals when they were young and powerful - what a sight he must have been. After we assessed our equines we realized we were being so selfish with Luna, our huge old hound. We realized she was in pain with every step and it was selfish to keep trying to find the right pill to help her walk, we too got caught in the effort to keep her young. The decisions were made on our beautiful friends but unlike our smaller companion animals, logistics need to be planned.
When you make that hard honest decision on our cat or dog, your vet can step in and offer cremation. This is not the case with livestock. (well it is for $1000s of dollars and that pile of muscle and tissue must be hauled off and that itself is not pretty ) With livestock you need to plan, to make to the calls to the excavator as well as the veterinarian. Some people don't have the luxury of land to bury - that is something we do here but that also is not easy or pretty. So when we decided it was time for Remington, then looked at Millie and the pain she has endured this week, we then had to plan on excavation and where to destroy our land to bury. So not only do you have to plan and say good bye with your heart - you have to step back and plan with logistics and wallet to make this all work. You have to plan where to walk your 1000 pound animal, you have to plan on where he will fall with a terrible thud, you have to plan when to get the excavator to dig a hole and then push your dear friend in with a terrible shove across your yard. Then when complete your grass is destroyed and there is a giant mound of soil to remind you of your lost friend. Our view is no longer pretty from our porch but its not ugly either. Its a reminder that when the world failed these animals, we did what was right. We have read the wonderful posts on our facebook page and cherish the sharing of sorrow. Be assured we never ever get used to these decisions and loosing our friends. We often get comments like "I could never do what you do, I have too big of a heart" or "I could never do what you do because I care about animals too much" comments like these crush us, as we mourn every animal. We cry, we fret, we mourn, we feel so deep for each soul because we know we were their last hope from their past life. We had an extra hard blow today with the passing of our rescue horse that never got out of Oklahoma, but because of us and donations, she was able to live her last moments in a clean healthy stall with plenty of food. I just wish I could have loved on her and brought her to health. But she died with a full belly and good people watching over her. That right there is a blessing.
We grieve just like you all. We will miss every big hound bark, every mule call for breakfast, at every beautiful knicker for grain, but we will not give up. We will not stop rescuing because we know so many need us. But we must always be brave because the truth is livestock will be deadstock and we must always do what is right and what is kind for our animal friends.
Peace out and thanks for reading.