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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hard Choices

One of the hardest things I've had to learn is that, no matter how difficult, heartbreaking, miserable, awful and tearful a decision might be, the buck stops with me.  I am the one who decided to bring the sheep/llama/chickens/turkeys/pigs/rabbits/quail/Guineas/cats/dogs/betas to Little Lucky Farm.  By taking that step, I stepped up and took responsibility for their care, health and happiness.  And I honestly feel (well, most of the time) that I am doing the best job I can. 

It's all just peachy keeno when things are going well.  When there is no hitch in the lambing, when you're out being mobbed for treats, handing out the hay.  But things can also go very wrong.  Like the time I went out to find a lamb rigid with a dangerously high fever brought about by tetanus - which was brought about because I didn't vaccinate them in a timely manner.  I was lucky and found her in time - and managed to race the hour to the vet, who saved her.  It was an expensive lesson, but only in hard cash, thank goodness.

Now I am faced with my all-time least favorite decision.  One that I would gladly hand off to just about anyone.  I have to make a quality of life decision.  It's not like these animals can tap me on the shoulder and say, "Hey, there.  I'm not enjoying my life here and I would appreciate it if you would help me out.  And whatever you decide is fine by me."  Flora has hit a wall and I was up most of the night thinking about what to do.  She totters around, she chews her cud, she is skin and bones.  It's not parasites - it's probably a combination of old age and cardiac problems and heaven only knows what else.  She will eat her grain, lying down to rest frequently.  More and more frequently.  It would be a lot easier if she showed signs of suffering.  But that old girl is a stoic.

So I have taken the first step and called the vet.  The next is to decide a day and time.  Then there are the logistics of what to do when she's 'late'.  She has to be moved.  She has to be buried.  The latter is the most difficult because I live on 90% stone.  Thankfully, my dairy farmer neighbor has offered to help. 

When all is done, the only thing left is the missing her. 


P.S.  Since we're on the subject of tough stuff, I'd appreciate it if you all would send some 'head homeward' thoughts this way.  Kay's dear Phoebe, her LGD, was apparently frightened out of her wits when their silo came down in the storm on Monday, ran off and hasn't come home.  We are all concerned for her and her brother misses her terribly.

20 comments:

  1. Oh Susan, I think this is the worst decision any of us who love and have animals has to make. We made that call on Inky this spring for the same reasons, and I still feel bad about it. Would that they could all just go to sleep on their own and remove that decision from our hands, but that is rarely how it goes.... Hugs and love to you, and prayers for Phoebe's return.

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  2. Oh Susan I am so very sorry :( I wish I could offer you some wise words, but I am just terrible at these things. Just know that I will be thinking of you and Flora. My heart goes out to you.

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  3. Sending good vibes out to you and for Phoebe.
    Hugs

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  4. Those tough decisions... :-(. {{{hug}}}

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  5. Michelle - Thank you for your kind words. It is just part of the territory, isn't it?

    Jane - Ah, that loving our animals stuff - mostly it's wonderful but sometimes it just kills us.

    CR - Thanks, my dear.

    CSL - It's been one crappy year, hasn't it? {{{hugs}}} back at you.

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  6. Oh, gosh, Susan. I don't know what right I have to offer an opinion on this but . . . it's certain that Flora doesn't have the possibility of years of a good life ahead of her. My feeling is why wait until she is suffering and it would most likely be a more traumatic passing for her? I would go ahead and do it now if you can get your kind, sweet, loving self ready for it. Make it as easy and beautiful for her as you can. It will be hard for you (even I'm tearing up right now thinking of it) but fill your heart with all the wonderful memories you and she have shared and keep in your mind she could not have had a better life than she's had with you. I know you don't want to see her deteriorate further. That wouldn't be fair to either of you. Take advantage of your good dairy farmer neighbor's offer of help. At that point, sweet Flora's spirit will be gone and you will be simply finishing a task with the help of a friend.

    Best wishes for Phoebe's safe return. It's simply awful to not know what has happened to a loved animal.

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  7. Wow, Mama Pea said it better than I ever could. {{HUGS}}
    I'm sending hurry home thoughts out to Phoebe.

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  8. I never know what to say at times like these. I guess just to tell you that I am thinking of you during this difficult time. God Speed to Flora & deep consolences for your heartfelt loss.

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  9. Susan,

    I was always told by my friend, a Vet, animals know when it's time, they will give you a look. The look of, okay I've had enough.
    It's hard to make this decison because we all get attached to our animals and they hold a special place in our heart.

    I'm sending you a big hug (((((((SUSAN))))))) from Oklahoma to say it's going to be okay.

    I'm also praying for the return of Phoebe

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  10. I had to help 3 elderly pets go within 2 years, it about killed me. BUT- they had a great life, I didn't want them to suffer and waste away, which they were, and I needed to take the responsible owner tact. It was tough, but a relief when it was over, as I knew I did the right thing. She knows you love her and want what's best. She loves you and probably is ready. I think animals have a better view of what's coming and don't have the fear of letting go like we do. She's go to a better place where there's no more pain. Maybe you'll see her again some day :)

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  11. I'm so sorry you have to make this difficult decision, although it seems like if the question is being pondered, the answer is likely yes and sooner rather than later. It's so hard, these darn animals that live a fraction of our lives. I can't believe my Sal will be 6 already next month, the big knucklehead. If I lived near you, I'd take you out for a glass of wine and we could toast all the wonderful attributes of the wonderful animals we've known.

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  12. I've made many if those decisions and they never get any easier. I will be thinking about you.

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  13. I always think "what would I want done to me if I were an animal in this situation". Unfortunately as humans we don't get to make that decision when we think the time has come. We at least have the ability to not let them suffer.
    I will be thinking of you ... wish I were there to console you. And poor Phoebe (and Kay), thinking of them too.

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  14. Just another reason I don't have any pets at the moment :( Sending you {hugs}

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  15. Sorry to hear about this. It's never easy to make these decisions. And at time specific animals become like family, reguardless of how hard you try to not let that happen. But it sounds as though you've made the right one. I'll pray you have some comfort at this time.

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  16. TL - It is, but it's one of the ones you inevitably face when you care for any pet or livestock. I know you have faced it, too.

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  17. Mama Pea - I cannot find the right words to express how deeply your comment has touched me. It is so comforting to know that you - and everyone else who has commented here - are there when I need a shoulder (or 10) to cry on.

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  18. Everyone - Thank you all so much for your kind words and prayers. When one goes into this kind of life, especially starting cold (and old), there are plenty of 'beginners' books, but there is a dearth of practical help. If we could only gather up the wisdom and common sense represented here - such a deep well of resources - and send it out to every newbie on this same path, what a godsend! Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

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  19. I am sorry to read this, it is so unfortunate that those of us that love animals so much that what makes us happiest is to raise and care for them have to deal with so much loss. We keep on doing it though :)

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