“Zelda looks like she’s limping more,” Jon said to me as we were leaving to go for a walk.
This afternoon as I fed Zelda and Griselle their grain, I saw how Zelda kept lifting her head from the grain bucket as if she was having an even harder time chewing than usual. This was different and I noticed it for the first time yesterday.
Griselle never lifted her head for a moment, gobbling down as much grain as she could. For most of the summer, Zelda had done the same thing.
When the grain was gone Zelda leaned against the barn as if she was uncomfortable.
When you have animals, you get used to seeing certain behaviors. And when those behaviors change, as subtle as they may seem to someone who doesn’t know them, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
Zelda spent most of the summer laying down on the south side of the pole barn away from the other sheep who spent their days inside the pole barn. This is unusual behavior for most sheep and definitely for Zelda, who used to jump fences to be with the other sheep when we first got her.
In the past couple of days, when I went out to the barnyard, Zelda would lift her head and look at me. I didn’t hear any voices or see any pictures in my head as I sometimes do with our animals, but I got the feeling that she’d had enough. That she was ready to go.
So when Jon mentioned that he thought Zelda was limping more than usual, I told him about the feeling I had and how Zelda didn’t seem right when I fed her the grain.
We didn’t need to talk about it anymore, Jon got on the phone and called Jack Kittell, our large animal vet. We made an appointment for him to euthanize Zelda next Wednesday afternoon.
A few weeks ago I was having a hard time thinking of actually euthanizing Zelda even though I thought it was the right thing to do. It’s still sad, but now it seems worse to me not to help her die.