Goodbye Gentle Friends

This past week was both sad and a reminder of what matters most. On Wednesday evening we had to say goodbye to two long time friends and residents of the sanctuary. Our veterinarian made a farm call and confirmed that due to their aggressive cancers, humane euthanasia was the kindest thing to do. Their quality of life was no longer.

Delilah was our most senior pig. I brought Delilah the pig home in the back of an suv in 2004. She was already an adult and had been at a shelter for quite a while. She needed a home. She was no longer tiny and 'precious' although we found her to be beautiful. She was our first pig. Over the years her circle of pig friends grew. On Wednesday Ennis, Dwin and Miss Piggy also had to say goodbye to their friend. I have no doubt that it had a far deeper impact on them.

We were able to move two of the pigs out of her shelter so that Dr. Scott could euthanize Delilah. However, Dwin refused to leave but she allowed him the space to euthanize Delilah. We had other animals for Dr. Scott to work with. When he went back into Delilah's barn she was surrounded by the three. I had to keep Ennis at bay because he was lunging at us. They were protecting Delilah even though she was gone.

When Pete went in to remove Delilah's body for burial he found that the other pigs had covered her body in straw. He said that it appeared very intentional. The three were still surrounding her body, but they allowed Pete to go to her. They had mourned and given Delilah a burial. They honored their friend in ways that speak to their own rituals and grief.

We also had to say goodbye to Joy, a pygmy goat who had come to us from a seizure by animal protection in the winter of 2011. Her babies Milagra and Prancer and her sister Noelle, continue to live with us. Milagra did not quit nursing from her mom until she was an older girl. I am glad that this little family still have one another.

By the very nature of what an animal sanctuary provides, we are met with the gratitude of being able to save an animal's life and given the responsibility of saying goodbye to them when the time has come. It is never easy, nor should it be. I find some comfort in my believe that animals understand the quiet truth that escapes humans.

'It's time to journey into the minds and hearts of animals and discover what they feel and why. When we deny that animals have feelings it demeans both them and us. We can make their lives better with little effort other than accepting them for who they are and welcoming them into our world. We should do no less.'  The Emotional Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff p.28


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