“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.
8 thoughts on “Helping Zelda Die”
It’s never easy, but is a kindness we can extend to our animals. Keeping you and Jon (and Zelda) close in my heart.
Oh Zelda, you certainly are enough . What a life you’ve had at the farm. Tough and strong. A true leader. I’ve followed all your hijinks, your experience with lambing, and now showing your soul to your people . Good for you. You’ve always shone above the rest. At least for me. I wish you a peaceful journey to that huge pasture above. All the hay you want and no fences ! Maybe a few souls you can teach your tricks to, or a few who’s butts you can kick ! Namaste Zelda.
She knocked a few of us on our ass over the years Cindy and she really is a very special sheep.
Hi Maria, you may delete this comment and this is fine with me, I just have this problem with our human attitude to make this difference between animals and humans… why do we think we have to help domestic animals to die,… but humans have to suffer their death to their last breath… I wouldn’t shorten a human’s life ever, but why do we feel and make a difference?
I’m glad to publish your comment Dorit, it’s actually very interesting. In a way I feel the same as you, I just have a different point of view about it. I do believe in shortening a human life if someone is suffering, and it’s what the person wants. And I know people who have taken their own lives when they were old and suffering. I know it was a relief to them and their choice. And, I also see a difference between human and animal life. They are not the same to me. For me, when a person I love dies,it very different than when one of my animals die.
No matter how many times you make this choice for a beloved animal, it is always a hard and sad time. I have enjoyed seeing Zelda as the matriarch of the flock. I am grateful to have had a bit of her wool to make a shawl. I will think of her regal face when ever I wear it. Love and compassion, always.
Oh that is sweet Jonne. She will live on in that way. I like to know that.