Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ross the Rooster

This post was originally written on another one of my blogs "What I Learned from Daniel", in June, 2012.    Because it is relevant to life on the farm, I have reprised it here.

Ross the Rooster, and to the left, one of his three hens, who were all sisters.

      Two days before Daniel's sudden death, he and I visited a neighboring town, a distance away, to pick up animal feed and to select a rooster.  Our old rooster had passed leaving us with three hens who needed some protection when they free ranged.   Daniel picked a beautiful young Rhode Island Red with a nice nature, that he named Ross.  We carefully put Ross in a box and hurried to finish our errands, and then headed home so Ross would not need to spend too much time in a box.  Ross adapted quickly to the task of watching his three hens, and they accepted him as if they already knew him.
            Of course, Daniel passed suddenly two days afterward, and somehow Ross and his girls held together, even though we probably weren't as attentive as normal in those days of dealing with such a terrible loss, and an autopsy, which turned out to be normal, leaving us with the probability that a spontaneous heart rhythm disturbance in an otherwise healthy heart somehow took our youngest son.
            Ross has not had it easy.  About a month after we got him, one of our Labrador Retrievers, Sally,  picked up the cage in which Ross slept, and shook it violently.  When we found Ross, he looked dead.  All floppy and lying on his side.  We brought him into the house, and put him on his side on a pizza box in a warm place, and gave him gatorade. He lay there for hours, and eventually was able to stand.  He took three days to be able to walk and eat and drink normally.  We were thrilled that it wasn't yet time for him to join Daniel.   Ross is also incredibly courageous. He will seek out snakes and attack them, because I think he believes they are a hazard to his three hens.  There was also one other dog attack in the past four years, but this was not as severe as the initial one, and Ross recovered quickly.

This is Ross recovering from the dog attack of which we spoke.

            With his three hens, Ross has sired about a hundred hens and roosters, most of whom look a good deal like him.  He looks surprised when one of them ventures near his area.  He recognizes them as looking as he does, but does not seem to understand that they are his sons and daughters. One of his sons and one of his daughters passed recently, which is still very good odds for 100 chicks, all of whom made it to maturity. He is particularly annoyed when one of his sons crows loudly.  Ross is coming up on being about four years old.

These are a few baby roos and hens of Ross.

             About a month ago, a large fox broke into the coop where Ross and his three hens live, when they are not free ranging. The fox apparently grabbed one of the girls likely breaking her neck in order to grab her through the small space he was successful in breaking into. Ross and the other girls were bewildered the following morning. The fox was apparently so quick and aggressive that they did not know what happened. My eldest son fixed the opening, and later that day, when the fox returned and challenged him by growling and running toward him,(often a sign of being rabid) he shot the large male red fox.

             This morning, when our son Matt went out to check on Ross, something was wrong.  Ross was lying on his side, and although he could move his head and neck and his comb was still brightly red colored, he appeared not to be able to move.  My husband moved him to our barn sick room immediately, and called me. I am not sure what is wrong, but I suspect some type of an infection coupled with heat exhaustion.  Many times, animals will tolerate high heat well, but if they are ill, particularly with a bacterial infection, their tolerance for heat is poor.  We gloved and cleaned up Ross, who appears to be weak but not in any particular pain. I gave him gatorade, and then gatorade cut by half with water, when he seemed reluctant. I tried cooked oatmeal and the normal farm remedies. Ultimately, I gave him an injection of antibiotic which the vet has us keep in the refrigerator for such occasions.

            We continued to check on him hourly all day. We used a warming light to keep the temperature constant at the preferred rate.  We turned it off when it became a little warmer.  We have offered gatorade and water all day. For a time, he seemed a bit more alert and to be moving a bit better.  However, when evening came, he went back to a side lying position, and although he does awaken and his eyes and his comb look very good, I think he may pass overnight.

            Daniel, I am sorry I can't do any more than this, to save Ross.  At this point, my goal is to keep Ross comfortable. He has become very important to me since your passing.  He is the last pet you chose and named, and he has worked hard here to protect his hens and his progeny, and is a treasured farm member.  I told Ross tonight that I would very much like him to recover and for him to stay here on Earth longer, but that if he must go, to you Daniel and to God, that I understand.  I know that you will take good care of him and that he has a hen and some of his children there with you also.  I told Ross I will do my best to take care of his remaining hens and other family.

            Please say a prayer for Ross the Rooster.  May his passing, if this is what is to be, be gentle and easy.

Update:    Ross, the Rooster passed away just after 9 am this morning, June 24, 2012, at four years of age.    I noticed that he passed just after we placed some dried flowers on the grave of one of the other chickens nearby, and that when he passed, there was a momentary clucking and crowing of his progeny, as if in tribute.  I know I shouldn't be sad because Daniel has his rooster back, but I am.
               He was buried in accordance with our normal funeral practices for animals, in which the family gathers, we read some scripture, say some words and thank God for a creature such as this, and then we completed the burial with each of us gently shoveling before the grave is completely filled in. We completed it with a bouquet of dried flowers from the farm.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Updates on Jared

Jared, sitting by a warm running dryer in the Mud Room. The three fluid containers are lemon Gatorade, plain water and chicken broth.  The food nearest him are pieces of grilled chicken.

        I have chosen to share the continuing saga of Jared's health issue here, in the event that someone who reads recognizes an issue in their own pet, and is therefore able to put together their own animal's issue, and more intelligently seek veterinary treatment.
              In the last post I established that Jared is thirteen years old and that he has never had an appetite to write home about. He has always taken considerable effort and creativity to feed.  A couple of weeks ago, his appetite dropped off to almost nothing.

"No, Mom. Don't make me drink that !"

 While we made a vet appointment, he began with watery diarrhea.  Initially, the veterinarian staff thought this was simply the end of his life, but I reminded them that he looked well and was highly functional a week before and so this was an acute process, and not completely the downhill slide of old age. He did not move well as we took him from the truck to the vet.  They wasted no time in getting bloodwork.   The most rapid bloodwork showed positive for Erlichiosis, a tick borne illness which may be carried for an extended period. He may also simply have some antibodies to it, and may not actually be ill from it.  Usually, dogs who are symptomatic and positive are treated, and dogs who appear well, are not.  (Incidentally, German Shepherds with erlichiosis can become extremely ill.)   The vet did not wish to treat him at this time because she felt it would flatten his appetite even more.  The second issue was that Jared has a very low sodium, and a potassium level that was in the highest range of normal.  His other kidney labs were within normal limits.  They decided to test him for Addison's Disease, and so a Cortrosyn stimulation test was scheduled.  (Lucky for us, this was a fraction of the cost for a human test of the same type, which is thousands !)   When the bloodwork from the Cortrosyn stimulation test was back, it was negative for Addison's Disease, and Jared was worse.  By then, I was feeding him with meat baby food, salt, water, and proton pump inhibitors, until we had a better diagnosis, all through a large plastic plunger-styled feeding syringe. The vet was planning for intravenous hydration at home.  He was cooperating, and for that reason, I was continuing. Finally, I told the vet that I wanted to go ahead and treat him for the Erlichiosis, and perhaps also for a gastrointestinal parasite.  Shigella is part of the normal surface water here. It sits on the clay and has killed many humans and animals in the few hundred years since this area has been occupied.  Shigella causes death through dehydration.  Dogs of course, get shigella when they drink from puddles while running on the farm.  Humans get shigella from drinking what might look like a beautiful stream or waterfall, which might still be contaminated.  Both antibiotics began in an oral syringe, along with a little food, some salt, and even some mylanta between doses. (Mylanta will impede some of the absorption of antibiotics and can disrupt electrolyte imbalance when used in the long term, so we should avoid doing so, unless your veterinarian has ordered this practice or approved it for some very narrow band of uses during antibiotic therapy.)   Three doses of each later, (36 hours later) the dog began to eat.  A week later, he is eating better than he has for some time. He looks well, and I can barely keep this exuberant individual on a leash !
           The moral of the story is that anytime a dog has rapid onset watery diarrhea, treatment for shigella (also known as shigellosis) should be contemplated, if tests for worms or other obvious causes are negative. Also, we probably should treat for a positive canine erlichiosis test more often than we do, especially in large dogs who seem more vulnerable to it, than others.
          If you own, and love dogs, please read the links to Erlichia, Addison's Disease and Shigellosis, as above.  Our vets are all very good, but we are the experts in the environment and in the habits of our dogs. Our own input and observations are invaluable in pinning down a diagnosis, in a young, or even a very old dog.
         Jared continues to gather strength and to recover. He is really enjoying his life in what are likely his last years. This dog has lived with our family for thirteen years and was a beloved pet to our son Daniel.  Eventually, Jared will join Daniel, but it won't be today !

Later Updates on Jared:



Prior Posts to the above with Jared as the subject:


Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Story of Jared

This post first appeared on my other blog Rational Preparedness, as certainly a healthy dog who is feeling well and is capable of watching the environment, is important.   I have also chosen to make it available to the readers here.



       In 1999, my husband and I occasionally rescued a dog or two just before our county's scheduled euthanization days.  Often, we would rehabilitate the dog and find it a new home. Sometimes, we would either experience a long term medical problem with the dog, which required injections or medication, and then we would keep him for his lifespan, here on the farm.   We don't do anymore rescues because now our county only euthanizes dogs with terminal issues, and because many other groups now rescue such dogs.  (We also have enough rescue dogs, cats, horses, and other animals to keep us, and our animal vets busy enough. )

             Jared is a Siberian Husky purebred who was rescued from our county's pound one hour before scheduled euthanization.  His story was that an individual bought a Siberian puppy and took it with him in his truck to jobs while working, and fed him through the Wendy's drive up window.  As the dog grew and became larger, he not only didn't really know he was a dog, but he became harder to handle while living in a truck. He was eventually placed at the pound.  Several families took him and found he either wouldn't eat dog food for them, or that he would howl incessantly or that their yards were too small for him.   Time was ticking and his chances were up. I was pretty confident that this beautiful dog, who was only about a year old, could be fairly easily rehabilitated.  We took him home, and were very attentive to him, and began to educate him as to the normal life of a dog who lives outside with access to a kennel.  At the time, our total lands on our original farm comprised ninety acres and our home was in the middle of that. . Jared howled so much that our neighbors complained !    Jared didn't seem to sleep outdoors, or indoors either.  In those first weeks I resorted to taking him for runs in the front seat of my husband's diesel truck, where Jared would nod off immediately.  When I parked the truck, he stayed asleep there. Eating was also a difficulty.  Normally we feed a good quality dry dog food and use a couple of tablespoons of alpo or a similar brand to encourage the picky eaters or to administer oral medications.  Jared wouldn't eat either.  We decided to let him go a few days and "get hungry", in order to put him on the type of food that was best of him both from a nutritional and dental standpoint.  I think he would have starved.  At that stage he would not eat. The vet couldn't find anything wrong with him and suggested we transition him from the Wendy's drive up window.  Jared enjoyed a single burger from the drive-through window. As I recall, he isn't a big fan of mustard, but is quite fond of ketchup and even the onions.  He also polished off the remaining chili chips and cheese I had ordered.  The young woman at the Wendy's drive through in Richmond was Russian, and she thought that Jared was an arctic wolf.  She was actually fearful as she gave us our food through the window.


             It took several years for Jared to realize that he was a dog like our others, and that he could eat somewhere other than Wendy's.  Over time, the howling diminished.  Each November, despite the fact that we'd had him neutered, Jared would escape from our farm to run his own Iditerod of sorts.  He isn't very good at finding his way home, and so, if he gets out, we must look for him.  This can be challenging in a place where hundreds and perhaps thousands of acres are wooded and sometimes mountainous, and occupied by wild animals like bears and potentially coyotes.  Each year for three years, we found Jared, a great distance from our home, but we located him each time and brought him home. After that, he would leave annually, either from the kennel or out the gate, but these would be local trips. He knew where he lived and would cooperate in coming home afterward.

            Jared has continued to be a picky eater and stays quite slim. He remains a beautiful dog.
            This year, Jared is thirteen years old, and although he looks wonderful, we know that he is nearing the end of his lifespan.  We are supplementing his food with glucosamine and chondroitin which we purchase from Sam's Club, as joint and hip issues can be common with large breeds.  He saw the vet recently and there are no obvious medical issues.  He continues to be a picky eater and has a bit less muscle than he did in earlier years.
            I wanted to share with you some of the tricks we have been using to keep the appetite of our "most challenging customer".

      Although we try hard to adhere to the plan of a good quality dry food, as he still has healthy strong teeth and we need to keep these clean, we are doing the following things to encourage him to start eating.

 1.  Make sure that a picky dog always has a clean dish.    Make sure they have plenty of clean water, because a thirsty dog will often not eat.

2. Sometimes an elderly dog needs his tastes piqued by a small squirt of ketchup on the few tablespoons of soft food you place on the top of his dry.  (Get him his own bottle.)

3. Don't use garlic salt, but occasionally dogs will eat better or will be convinced to eat if you shake a small amount of garlic powder on their food.   (No crushed garlic or garlic from jars because this can give them diarrhea.)

4. Try not to resort to feeding "people food" as this is much too low in calcium for dogs and will cause difficulties in the long term.  A little on the top of a meal might induce your picky dog to eat.

5. Check any supplements you give with the vet before adding them.  Our vet is okay with our adding a glucosamine supplement which actually was intended for human beings.  We do it because we found a formulation that is cheaper and because we do this for all our dogs who are age 8 and older.

6. Never give a dog any form of chocolate, even ice cream.   Chocolate has theobromines which can cause lethal arrhythmias in dogs.

7. Don't give treats to a dog who is picky.  Give him affection instead.   Treats will cut down what he eats at meals.

8. A dog with a new onset lack of appetite may have a parasite or a new medical problem.  If this is the case, take him to your vet.

9.   Some dogs are very sensitive.   Make sure your dog food is fresh.  Look at expiration dates.   Some dogs should have a smaller bag of food they will consume completely in a shorter period of time.  Often, the huge bags of food are best left for people with multiple large dogs.

This was how Jared looked at about six.  He is thirteen now, and looks the same, though thinner.

               This morning I poured a half a can of dollar store mackeral over his food in order to get him to eat it.   Your vet also has some rather expensive high fat and high carbohydrate canned food which they will sell for animals who need to eat but are exhibiting reluctance to do so.
              May all your furred and feathered friends be doing well as we anticipate another Winter, and soon.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Story of Daffney, the Duck

Daffney is the smaller white duck to the far left of this picture.

Back in the early two thousands when Daniel was a small boy, we bought some ducklings for him for Easter. We bought some ducklings that were Khaki Campbells, and some yellow ducklings which were to grow to be Silky Swedes. Daniel adored the ducklings. As they grew, the Silky Swedes grew to be larger and heavier. The females were white and the males were grayish white.  The Khakis grew to be brown, and a few of the males had some greenish head markings, which reminded us a bit of mallards. They were a happy bunch. There is something very satisfying about feeding ducks. They like bread crusts and slightly stale bread and muffins. Daniel and I used to buy a fresh bag of kale or collard greens and toss each piece to them. They enjoyed the greens especially. Originally, we started out with twelve but lost a few when some of them flew out of the enclosure at night and were caught by a fox.; The females began to produce large eggs which Daniel and I found made gorgeous omelets. The eggs were a little gamier than chicken eggs, but with homegrown chopped chives and some small cheese squares, the omelets were fantastic. Duck eggs contain more protein than chicken eggs and for this reason, when used in cakes, they produce a very high cake. We got into the habit of always using a duck egg when baking a birthday cake. The ducks came to us in 2003 and the group above have done really  well. This week, Daffney, the duck on the far left of the picture passed away after a brief illness. She had been ill for a couple of days and we tried an antibiotic and some B vitamins. She passed a couple of days later while we were present. It hurts each time one of Daniel's animals leaves the Earth, but we know that he has them now.  Daffney was the last of the females to survive this long. She was more than ten years old.  Goodbye sweet Daffney; It was a joy to have you here. We will take good care of your remaining family on Earth.

"I Will Take Care of You"            This is Canadian recording artist and amazing woman, Amy Sky

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Modern Miracles

  This post was originally posted on one of my other blogs "What I Learned from Daniel" at www.learnedfromdaniel.blogspot.com  on July 1, 2013.  It was entitled "Modern Day Miracles" at that time.
    Since it relates to animals, I am reprising it here.    
A shetland pony


   Miracles do occasionally happy in the present day.  I have been a witness to many of them over my lifetime myself.    Some are of the dramatic variety. A person is admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and the trauma surgeon has told the family that the patient has only a five percent chance of survival, but a week later, the person is sitting up, complaining about all night lighting in the ICU and is transferred to a regular hospital floor a week later. He will not only survive, but will recover much more rapidly than was anticipated.  Most miracles in our lives are much smaller less dramatic events, but they are there, if we pay attention, nonetheless.  I think some of them simply occur because God is telling us that our lives are not meaningless and that He does care about our challenges and sorrows.  Sometimes, there are miracles which confirm our direction in our lives.

                 This is a small miracle I have chosen to tell you about here.  When Daniel was four and five and for a few years after that, our entire family used to travel quite a distance to attend the annual "Celtic Festival".   Both my husband and I have some Scottish, English and some Irish ancestry, and we thought this would be an excellent way for our children, especially as homeschoolers to learn something of this ancestry. It was an expensive trip for a family of six.  Parking, entry fees, and then additional charges to eat, and do some of the additional activities were large for six, but we would budget for this well in advance.  The entire family would dress in Scottish gear, including all of boys in kilts.   We would watch the Irish dancing, sword demonstrations, musical performances by Celtic artists etc.  We would eat fish and chips and homemade lemonade.  We would shop for British groceries and sweets and visit with friends who had stalls there.   It was during one of these days that Daniel and Matthew had a chance, in kilts to ride some ponies.  I remember well the chocolate colored young Shetland who would rather have been grazing, but who begrudgingly carried Daniel in his kilt and a turtleneck down the length of a field while being led by a teen girl with a giant rope.  I remember the wind blowing on that November day, blowing both the mane on the horse, and Daniel's hair as well.    Matthew followed on a taller horse, also being led in similar fashion.  We took photographs and these became special memories to me.

                 Over time, the Celtic Festival changed locations and became even more expensive. The younger boys also didn't want to dress us in kilts again and there came many other interests.  Eventually, our older kids went together when they got driver's licenses, but my husband and I, and Matthew and Daniel never went again.

                Of course, as you know, this November, Daniel will have been gone from the Earth five years.  He came, enjoyed his time on Earth and his studies, and then passed at 12 1/2.  There were many things I wish he'd stayed longer to do.  I am therefore very grateful for the things he did have a chance to do, and for the pictures that help us remember them.

               A couple of months ago, I noticed that local papers, Craigslist,  Freecycle, and other sources have an abundance of really wonderful horses available for relatively low prices.  Many people who like horses take on a greater number than they can afford, or find over time that between feed, hay, veterinary care, shelter, farrier care, boarding if you don't have room at home or are zoned for such, becomes expensive.  Consequently, there are Freisians, Thoroughbreds, Clydesdales, Arabians, miniature horses, Welsh ponies, and Shetland ponies all for sale.  I have always wanted a horse here on the farm and so I read them carefully.  I decided to buy a miniature horse who needed a home, in part because I was concerned I would be injured as my accomplished horsemen paternal family were, and also because I thought a mini would be a great place for me to learn.   I saw an ad without a picture for a miniature horse being sold by a woman who does horse rescue.   I went to see the horse right away.   I liked this beautifully proportioned bay gelding very much despite the fact that he could use some training and some handling. His original owner had become ill and was unable to care for him. Consequently, he was skittish and quick to spook and needed a lot of handling.  It also took me no time to see how bonded he was to another horse who was housed with him.  The horse housed with him was a chocolate Shetland pony who was muscular and stocky and had a long tuft of fetlock hair which curled.  He looked familiar.  I made no promises that first visit and told the owner I would need to go home to discuss the purchase with my husband.

              It took me several days to convince my husband who didn't remember telling me that I could get a horse if I did 100% of its care. During this time I also felt guilty about removing the miniature horse from his friend the Shetland, to whom he was bonded.   Animals are never happy on a farm being the only one of their species.  When I spoke to the woman again, I asked her how much she would charge for both the miniature and the Shetland.  She told me that the Shetland would be more money as he'd had a career giving rides to children at birthday parties, bank openings, and festivals etc.  Finally, she settled on a price, I paid it, and she delivered "the boys" to the farm.

            The first few weeks were challenging as I learned to muck stalls, and led them out to graze.  We had an equine veterinarian out a couple of times.  He taught me how to identify landmarks in order to do all the immunizations myself in future.  The vet determined the age of both horses based on their teeth.  The sweet miniature bay gelding is about seven, and the Shetland gelding is about nineteen.  Not long after, the farrier came, and I could see that both horses enjoyed having their hooves trimmed and were very cooperative.
            Within several weeks both horses were very gentle, easily cared for, loving. and since I feed them, are thrilled to see me, each time I make my way to the stables.  They are indeed bonded and play with one another in the corral.  They play a version of what looks a good deal like tag.

             This week, with much of the horse chores being done and the hot weather here, I have worked on some indoor chores.  I wanted to clear some space downstairs so that I could better access some of the many albums of pictures of the kids when they were younger.  Thank Heaven, I thought, that we took so many pictures of Daniel when we did things.  They are so important especially since he has passed.  We are lucky that we have so much to remember, and so many pictures also.  I decided to look through some of the photograph albums from about 2000.    There was Daniel in a turtleneck and kilt as a boy of four riding a horse that looked just like my nineteen year old Shetland pony !    It can't be, I thought.  I studied the pictures carefully.  It did look just like our Shetland, but his mane and tail were slightly lighter in color than the horse I have now.  It can't be, I thought.

             This morning I was looking up something unrelated with regard to horse care and I came upon some information I did not know prior.  Apparently, many times, chocolate colored horses, particularly Shetlands have manes and tails which darken as they age.  My Shetland is nineteen.  If he were the horse that Daniel is riding then he would have been about five years old at the time.  I now remember commenting to the young woman who told us about the horses as Matt and Daniel rode, that Daniel was the same age as his horse.
            I truly believe that the chocolate Shetland pony that Daniel rode at the Celtic festival in 2000, is indeed the Shetland pony that we quite accidentally acquired this year !    What are the chances that we accidentally purchased simply as a companion to another horse, the horse that Daniel rode ?   What are the chances that this horse would be made available to us when he simply needed a home now ?  So many things had to line up perfectly in order for this to have happened.

            Perhaps placing the horse Daniel rode is God's way of ensuring this older Shetland gets excellent care as he ages.  Perhaps this is God's way of telling us that He and Daniel have not forgotten all the incredible times we spent together.  Perhaps this little miracle is Daniel's way of saying hello, and that he knows of things that happen here on Earth, and on the farm. Both horses are happy and healthy, and are a great joy to me, whether I have met the older of the two before, or not.

Update:  About six weeks after getting these first two ponies, we rescued another two horses who are true miniature horses.  Thus far, they are all getting along nicely and seem to appreciate being in a herd of smaller horses.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Story of Rosheen (Roisin)

Roisin, in her kennel

    One of the most valuable and important gifts God has chosen to provide to me in this life have been my dogs.  I have had a dog of one kind or another since I was a small child, and the only genuine criticism I have for them is that their life spans here on Earth with us, simply aren't long enough.  When I was much younger than this, I recall praying to God asking why people, who are often hostile and self centered may live to a hundred, and many dogs are lucky if they live as long as fourteen.  It took years before I believe He answered me, and when He did in a dream, He related that human beings require many years to learn all that is needed about love and loyalty, and that dogs know all that is important relatively quickly.  I have taken that to be true, and not simply a creation of my own mind in sleep.
           Now that I am half way through a century myself, and we have raised our own large family and lived on two farms, I have had an awful lot of dogs over the years.  The farm needs a number of different types of dogs for many different purposes, and we have been fond of taking many of them, often purebred varieties, from pounds and rehabilitating them.  Of course, the pedigreed varieties often  lack the mongrel resilience of others, and I have often wound up with an animal with a significant medical problem which requires injections or anti-seizure medication a couple of times a day.  Still, I can convince a dog of my good intentions within an afternoon, and having been a foster mother, I can assure you that human beings take much longer to trust other human beings, if in fact, they ever do.
          This month has been particularly difficult on the farm.  Angus, was a small bi-color beagle who came to our original farm some years ago and would watch us.  It took a year before he allowed himself to be captured and served a meal, some water, and within a day or so, a rabies shot.  (Rabies is endemic here and we cannot have an animal in close proximity without proper protection.)  Even then, the vet indicated that Angus was very very old.  He was likely one of the hunting dogs which had found its way to our property and then was never picked up again.  He had no collar, and no microchip.   He adapted to our farm in 2000 and having spied on us for just over a year.  We know that he had been abused in a prior home, because he could cowar when we raised our hand to pet him, and then he would remember that we meant no harm and he would allow us to touch him.
          Rosheen  (Irish Gaelic spelling is actually Roisin) was a Jack Russell terrier mix who came to our farm in 1999. In 1999, after we moved out to the country to our first farm that we built, my daughter and I went out one day to the edge of one of the cities which is within a days commute. While we were there we stopped at a Dairy Queen which has long since closed and been replaced by something else.   My daughter and I each got a small cone, and the woman who has working the DQ that day asked us if we wanted a dog. We told her the truth which was that we already had several dogs on our farm and didn't really need any.  She proceeded to tell us that a female Jack Russell Terrier mix had been dropped off at her apartment complex, and that she didn't want to take her to the pound, but couldn't keep her.  She proceeded to take us to her car where the dog was "napping".  How bad could a napping dog who waits for you to finish working really be ?  When the woman got to the car, she found the interior of her (thankfully) older car, chewed to bits !  The woman was upset, and I had plenty of places we could station a small watchdog, and so we brought her home.  Our daughter named her Rosheen, (written for pronunciation) although the Irish Gaelic spelling is Roisin.  The dog has been a great joy to our daughter, to all of us, and also to our young son Daniel who passed suddenly at the beginning of the Christmas Season now four years ago.
         Although we had Angus neutered and Ro was spayed, they were like an old married couple.  They shared a kennel room in our kennel, and this year had been together for ten years. They fought over a milkbone from time to time, but their relationship was congenial and devoted.   We were aware that the vet believed that Angus was in excess of twenty years old.  We knew his passing was coming, especially since the vet warned us of it, each Winter.  We also inherently knew that Rosheen would not do well following Angus' passing.  We knew she was now fourteen, and we tried not to contemplate this much, and we hoped the other larger dogs would help her in that event that he passed before she did.
          On December 1st, Angus passed quickly of a stroke. We moved him to the finished warm barn. He was alive for a few hours and we had a chance to sit next to him as he slept and eventually died.    Ro, initially seemed alright, but one never knows how much they do, and do not grasp. A couple of weeks later, we could see that she too was depressed. She was showing clear signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or more commonly "Doggie Dementia". She initially drank well, but almost seemed to have forgotten how to eat, or that she needed to eat at all.  She enjoyed our interaction, but she was not the same dog. It was as if all of her energies were set on joining Angus in whatever Heaven our Lord sees fit to provide for his youngest children.

Rosheen, also in happier days.

           Tonight, at 5:15 pm on December 28, 2012, Rosheen drew her last breath.  This week has been spent tempting her with turkey, chicken broth, a couple of flavors of gatorade, all manner of food, specialized soft dog food in cans, and ultimately simple rehydration solution in plain water. My Christmas was spent walking her, playing the radio to her, and having each of the kids including my daughter, (who was really her owner), spend time with her. Today, I spent as much time with her as I could, and then returned about every forty minutes when her respirations grew shallow.  Ro waited until I was there and took one last breath.
             I have been so honored to have had all these dogs as my friends. Angus and Rosheen are just two in a long line of very special devoted friends who have shared important parts of our family life. I am going to miss them both so much, even with seven different breeds and types of dogs remaining.    Medical care, chux, special bedding, blankets, medication, food, feeding syringes, for Rosheen's last days were about three hundred dollars.  Dogs: Absolutely priceless.   Yes, our friends are priceless.


The Passing of Angus

               I don't often repeat a post from my blog "What I Learned from Daniel" which is about faith, hope. loss, and survival, and post a similar entry here on Rational Preparedness:The Blog.        
 What I Learned from Daniel is a spiritual forum, and its younger sibling Rational Preparedness: The Blog is about the practical matters of preparedness.  I even use different names on it, both derivations of my real name, but for a long time I have kept the two blogs very separate, and I plan to again.

                Some time ago, you may recall that I posted here concerning canine dementia.

That post can be found at:


This is the update to that post, taken in its entirety, from
 "What I Learned from Daniel: The Blog":


This is Angus, taken this year

   The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has been a time in which both people and animals have passed from our lives..  Sadly, this year was no exception.   Angus came to us in 2002, as an elderly thin dog who liked to hide and watch us at our original farm. He was one of many hunting dogs who came to our farm during hunting season, and whose owners never came to find them. Most of the beagles and hounds are tagged with an owner, dog license, microchip or kennel number, and we have called and returned many, many of them over the years.  Angus never had a collar.  He was very skittish and used to watch us, but would not let us get near him.  It took a year of leaving food and then leaving and watching him eat before we were able one day to collar and tie him.  Rabies is endemic in our region, and we can't have an unimmunized dog running around.  Once we caught him and fed him regularly and provided him with a doghouse on the edge of the forest, he seemed happier.  However, his initial response was always to cowar when someone held their hand above his head intended to pet him.  We always believed that Angus had been abused as a hunting dog, and probably didn't want to be found by the original owner.  We were very surprised when we took Angus to the vet for a check up, a rabies shot a heartworm test and some immunizations, when the vet told us that she thought he was very old. She told us that she believed him to be about 14. She thought that if we gave him the good care we provide to all our other dogs and animals that he could live another several years, and that the end of his life would be spent securely and happily.  We were happy to care for this small and gentle dog.
                 Time passed, and we moved to a new farm taking all of our animals with us.  Angus adjusted, in part because he had Rosheen as a kennel mate.   Rosheen  (Irish Gaelic spelling is Roisin)  is a Jack Russell Terrier who enjoyed keeping company with Angus.    Over time,  my parents passed, Daniel passed, Daniel's elderly large dogs Jake and Mark passed. Chickens and roosters passed, but Angus remained.  The vet would check him each year and tell us that she didn't think he would make it through the Winter.  In 2009, we build a really lovely kennel for all the dogs which had separate kennel rooms for all of them, and a fenced enclosure for them outside.   Ro and Angus shared a kennel room.
                  Although Angus had always been skittish, he did recover from his prior abuse somewhat. When we would pat him, he would at first cowar, and then remember that we wouldn't hit him and that he was safe to allow us to pet him. A couple of years ago, he developed a new problem.   At night, he would tear apart in the inside of his kennel room, knock over the food dish, and sometimes even the water bucket.  He would growl and bark at things that did not seem to be there. This behavior prompted a post on my other blog concerning canine dementia.   The vet said that there is a medication which is sometimes of assistance in canine dementia but she wondered if this truly ancient dog could detoxify such a thing. We decided to continue to love and cherish him, and keep him with Rosheen in order not to make changes in his world which would lead to furthur disorientation. The vet said that this was not surprising, since he is after all, 24 years old by her estimation.  He continued to recognize us and although he was slim, he still had a hearty appetite. We continued rabies shots every three years, and heartworm and worm prevention.
                   The last three weeks we knew that he was nearing the end of his life.  He would look for places to hide in the kennel and outside it. We could comfort him, but he was up all night, and slept during the day. Once, I couldn't wake him easily and wondered if he were dead.  Almost deaf now, he was still jumping and happy when he saw us, and he never turned down a small milkbone dog biscuit. As with all the elderly dogs, we put a coat on them at night, to keep them comfortable when the temperature drops.

Sweet Angus really enjoyed the snow.  He also liked to eat some of it.

                   This morning my husband called me as soon as he went out to feed dogs.  Angus was in the fenced enclosure outside his kennel.  He still had his coat on, but it was muddy, and he seemed disoriented.  By the time I got down there, he had a grand mal seizure, the first we had ever seen.  We promptly put him on a transport board with a chux on it, covered him with a blanket and moved him down to the heated barn room which functions as our animal ICU.   The seizure ended and he seemed calm, as most post-ictal creatures are.  However, he could not move normally.  We believe him to have had a massive stroke over night.   Unlike human beings who have much more complex mental demands, dogs can recover from severe  strokes. I have had several who have and who lived several years afterward.  However, if Angus is as old as the vet suspects, then the kindest thing probably would be to allow him to pass. Initially is heart rate and breathing were regular, and I sat with him as he lay in a nice warm bed with a soft blanket over him.  Then, as the morning went by, the respirations changed. Although they were regular, they were occurring less often. The distance between each respiration lengthened and I knew that today would be the day he would leave us.  Even though he likely could not hear us, we played soft Christmas music in the barn. I told him how much we had enjoyed having him at the farm and that we would see him again.  We told him that he owed us nothing, and could pass on to Jesus, and to Daniel and that he would again see the other dogs that he knew as part of our farm.  Angus passed with one more deep expiration at 11:51 am.   He is the only one of our dogs whose picture appears in my book Rational Preparedness (p.65 for those of you who have it.)   He will be missed by both the animals on the farm, and also by the human beings.

This is the link to the earlier post on canine dementia from my other blog Rational Preparedness: The Blog which concerns Angus:


The Life of Angus

Angus and Ro in their indoor kennel room  Note the plastic easily cleaned kennels even inside, for extra cool in summer, and extra heat in winter. The door to the outside exercise area can be closed.

 This is a post which first appeared on my blog  Rational Preparedness, in May of 2012.   It is important material on Canine Cognitive Disorder and is appropriate to this blog also, so I am reprising it here:

Original post:    http://rationalpreparedness.blogspot.com/2012/05/is-it-canine-dementia.html

    As you know, our dogs who live in our kennel and who rotate out to different areas of the farm to "work" are a passion of mine.  Most of them are rescues from pounds, some near and some far. Some of them are likely full blooded (purebred), and some of them are mixed.   I personally try to choose mixed breeds for their "mongrel resiliency", but truthfully, a dog in need that we can help, when the kennel is not full, gets the slot.  Most of them adapt very quickly and enjoy whatever their work is.  Some are used as watchdogs. Some are trained to watch over livestock.  One proved his worth as a "seizure dog", notifying us when another dog of similar breed had seizures.  They are all very dear to us.
          One of the sad things in this life is that most dogs live ten to fourteen years or so, and humans live seventy or eighty or more. The years of a dogs life pass quickly, and then, once again, you are looking at the impending passing of a dear friend.  Of all our dogs over the years, we have been very lucky.  Most have lived long lifespans, and have passed easily.
          Some years ago, on the last farm, a small tri-colored beagle appeared, and would hide from us.  We saw him occasionally, and he would cower.  We tried to feed him and give him water, but for a year, he would hide from us.  This was very concerning because rabies is quite a problem in the forests of our county.  A feral dog could become rabid and endanger our family, spread rabies to other wild animals, or attack our own pets or livestock.  We worked to catch him if just to take him for a rabies shot.  It took more than a year, but we eventually caught the dog. He was glad to have a family and steady food and water, but then frightened at intervals from relatively mild stimuli.  The vet believed him to have been a hunting dog who was abused because each time we tried to pat him gently, he would shrink as if he were sure someone were going to beat him. The vet believed him to be very old, even then. We named him Angus.

Angus just last winter, going for a walk in the snow.
Rosheen, during her walk in the snow.

            He adapted well when we developed this particular farm, and has really enjoyed the safety of the kennel, particularly at night.  Late last autumn when he had his annual physical with the vet, she told me she thought that he could be older than twenty. She told us that tri-colored beagles can live a very long time. We actually had an appreciation for this, as we adopted a former hunting dog from a construction site in the 1980s, and he was eventually euthanized by the vet for lung cancer. He was also exceedingly old.
           Lately however, we have a new concern with Angus.  Angus shares his large kennel area with a spayed Jack Russell Terrier named Rosheen  (although I think on her records, it has the traditional Gaelic spelling of Roisin. She is Ro for short.)   Lately, Ro has been looking a little jumpy, and the items in their kennel have been thrown around overnight.  I also have occasional found Angus in the outdoor run area of the kennel in a dog house, facing backwards and barking voraciously.  Sometimes, he seems to bark at things that aren't there.  We are able to calm him and he does know us, but it appears that Angus has developed something called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.  Sometimes, as dogs age, they develop brain lesions, and they have difficulty regulating their brain chemicals.

These are some of the general symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome:

    Stares into space
    May become lost in places that are ordinarily familiar, either in the house or in the yard.
    Is easily startled.
    Loses the ability to keep himself clean.  Has lost the skill of being housebroken.
    Interacts with his human and canine family less. Plays less.
    Sleeps more during the day,  may be disoriented and agitated at night.
    (At lot like the "Sundowner's Syndrome" we see with some human dementias.)
    Shakes or trembles, even when it's not cold.
    Is hesitant to eat or drink or accept a treat.
    No longer enjoys favorite toys. May fear them.
    Some CCDS dogs vocalize excessively
    Some may seem a bit more aggressive.

 It can be hard to tell these symptoms from normal aging, or as simple complications of failing hearing or sight,

Of course, not every dog with some of these symptoms has Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, and not every dog who does has ALL of these symptoms.  Angus seems to have the "Sundowner's Syndrome" pretty consistently, and I am sure life for Ro is less relaxed than it used to be.

      If you have a dog with these issues, it is probably not necessary to euthanize him.  Most vets would prefer to see a pet who has developed a sudden dementia, because there are drugs specifically for this disorder. First, they like to rule out medical causes for changes in behavior. If it IS CCDS, then a drug called L-selegelene has been used, and the more common registered name for it is Anipryl. Apparently, many vets are of the opinion that this is more a brain chemical issue than it is a lesion based syndrome.  Although it may be expensive,  it can be treated, often successfully for a period of time. The dogs dementia process usually slows and may reverse, although eventually, the dog either passes or the dementia moves on.

     I will mention this to our vet, but meanwhile we will try the softer solutions.   We will try to play with him during the day, so he is tired enough to sleep at night. We will be understanding of his gradual failure. We will move slowly around him, and not make changes to his kennel room.  We thought about moving Ro to a neighboring kennel room, but if the dog is not aggressive, and Angus is not, then changing their world is strongly discouraged by veterinarians and animal; behaviorists. The time for discipline or teaching is probably now past.  We will support our dear friend through his aging, and through his eventual passing.

       In the country, we use our dogs to alert us to bears, coyotes, rabid animals, bobcats,  coydogs, feral dogs,  and a rare mountain lion. We depend upon them very heavily for both patrols, notification, animal supervision, and herding depending upon their breed.  However, our lives are very much enriched from their companionship as well.

One of the best and most complete discussions of CCDS can be found at:


Update:   November 26, 2012:      Angus is still with us.  He functions during the day by following whatever his kennel mate Ro is doing.   At night sometimes, especially if there is a change, such as windy weather, he makes a lot of noise and  moves the water and food dishes and bedding in his kennel room.  He does still recognize us, and is comforted by us.  He still eats well and enjoys the dog biscuits we bring.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Horse, A Nervous Child


     We have all manner of veterinarians that come to the farm.  We have two farm vets who come for the camelids.  They take care of farm animals, but they limit their practice, and therefore do not care for dogs or cats.  The dogs or cats, and rabbits see a small animal vet group about twenty or so miles from here.  We have a large equine veterinarian group which travels a great distance to see our horses. (They even take care of racehorses and have a full surgical suite for horses at their offices and stables.) We have them because they will even come out on a Sunday evening, if you ask, because I have had them do so when some eyelid suturing with sedation was needed.  Usually, one gravitates to a particular partner in a veterinary practice, but all of the vets in this large group are kind, helpful, and very willing to teach owners like me.  All of them are also very bright and very observant.  I often think that if it weren't illegal, I wouldn't mind having them take care of me. (Especially since it would likely be cheaper than my own physicians.)
                    When we got the first two horses, it had been a long time since I had been around horses.  I wanted to please them, and to convey to them that I could be trusted and that I am their friend. This meant that I was  congenial cooperative where they were concerned, and actually sometimes gave them choices.  One of the equine vets said something which has helped me a great deal with the horses.   He told me that I should treat them like children.  I should not give them too many choices, and that I should give them the gift of being in charge. This freed me to make decisions and to actually lead them rather than see if they are willing to go in the direction I need them to.  This was especially important information when the two most recent horses joined us.  They very much needed structure and a regular routine.
                   One of the surprises of horses, that I had long since forgotten since childhood, is how intelligent they are.  They learn and they reason.   Their lips can be about as dextrous as fingers, which is how the bolt from the stall keeps getting opened.  I have had to add a supplemental lock so a particular one stops flipping and sliding the bolt.  They also are capable of emotion.  One day when one of them let all of the others out, I chased them around to put them back for a couple of hours.  When the 92 degree humid heat made it impossible for me to continue, I went into the barn and sat down there.   They realized I couldn't catch them, and they each returned to the stalls, their day of broad exploration over.  They are bright children with a bit of a nervous brain.
                 Today, despite a twisted knee, I rotated ponies to new grazing fields, mucked pens, cleaned out mop buckets, and restocked hay, grain, and supplies.  They stopped periodically to watch me, as if to say, "Mom, you work too hard."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Noticed at the Farm


  Thus far, it has been unnecessary to shoot any other foxes.  The doubling of the dog guard of the ducks has prevented any additional attacks. The duck who fought beside Stretch and survived, and who had some injuries on his face and beak has healed completely. They SEEM relieved by the true watch dog I have stationed just outside the duck pen.

             I have also learned that too many shredded pine flakes on a concrete barn floor is unwise.  Sometimes you will see deep shredded pine flakes at an exhibition with horses, and this is indeed the way I started, but I am finding it to be unwise.  When the shavings are too deep more time is spent rifling through looking for horse stools and extracting them with tools. People are less likely to change all the shavings.  I use much less in terms of shavings now, and once they are wet, I remove them all, and then mop the wet area using water and Simple Green.  (Which I buy in giant bottles from Sam's Club)  Interestingly, changing a modest amount of pine shavings daily keeps the flies down, and this keeps the horses much happier than perhaps anything else I could do, except perhaps feeding them.

            It has been cooler this week, and this has translated into fewer horseflies, fewer white faced hornets, and generally happier horses.  We had three family birthdays this week, and one of my sons came to help me with the mucking on my birthday.   We finished in record time !  Hope your week and your weather has been wonderful.

For our purposes here, large shavings work better.  Our horses tend to urinate outside the stalls, so finer shredded pine isn't really needed to absorb the urine from the stall floor, and to prevent slipping.  

This weeks revelation should help us to contain costs a bit on the shavings.  You have no idea how many of these I use !

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fox Troubles


Stretch is the tall boy at the back.

  Some years ago, a breeder near here bred different types of foxes for foxhunting, which is still a popular Virginia sport on horseback.   No one kills the foxes. They release them, the tri-color hounds chase them, and people on horseback chase the dogs. It all looks like a framed print on an English country home wall.   I have never done this, as I have never seen the point, but I know others who do.  The foxes are gathered afterward and no one gets hurt.   There was a flood in this area some years ago, and somehow this resulted in the freeing of a fairly large number of red and gray foxes.  These interbred fairly quickly and farms and forests in this area have a number of mixed red and gray foxes in large numbers.  We also have a few black foxes, which I have mentioned on another blog I write.
             Anytime nature is out of balance, problems occur.  Although we have never had problems with foxes at any of the homes we've had before, or any of the farms, a couple of years ago we began to have trouble with the foxes.   More than once a large fox challenged us, barking and growling as we left our home.  We spoke to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and found that a challenge from a fox either means that they consider that we are encroaching on their territory, or that they are rabid.  Rabies is endemic in this area, and there are attacks by rabid animals of many kinds.  We were told that we are to shoot to kill a fox who directly challenges us on our farm, especially near our residence.  We don't like killing anything, unless it is kill or be killed, but there were several close calls and they killed our large rooster, and some chickens despite solid chicken housing. We have actually been afraid that the foxes might target and kill our two farm cats.
             Last year we shot one large very aggressive red fox on our property, and we were lucky it died before reaching us.  The wrong caliber round can go right through such an animal, allowing it to attack you before it eventually dies. The trick is to select the correct round to end the life of any animal you must eliminate, without passing through it, and causing it to dump possibly rabies contaminated blood everywhere.  In addition, anytime you must eliminate an animal, you want it to suffer as little as possible and simply remove it from play.  We thought that taking out the "King of the Den" would cause the others to relocate, deeper into the thousands of acres of forest which we do not own and do not frequent.
             We were wrong. This year, quite a crop of young male foxes could be seen stalking our animals.   When one was menacing to one of our sons in the garden, we killed it.   We still felt badly when given no real choice.  We thought the ones remaining would move on, since we believe them to be close by when we had to shoot.  Last night one of them crawled into our duck pen, broke the neck of one of our large white Silky Swede male ducks (his name was Stretch) but could not carry it out of the pen.  He ate most of Stretches body right there in the pen.  This means others will be back tonight.
             Not only are we out Stretch the Silky Swede duck, but now we have to shoot other foxes who likely will be back tonight to get food for the remaining members of their den.  Foxes may be very beautiful, but they can be very vicious and quite dangerous.  The high numbers locally cause them to become more aggressive and more willing to take risks and to challenge human beings.
            My only relief in this is that foxes kill quickly usually breaking the neck of the subject animal, so Stretch likely didn't know what hit him, and likely did not suffer.  I will try to return the favor for the fox.
I will also double the dog guard outside the duck pens at night.

This is the link from my post on one of our other blogs regarding a black fox:


Friday, August 2, 2013

When Horses Escape

This is a picture snapped by my husband's cell phone. Here they are getting ready to return to their barn.

   We had a thunderstorm this evening, and although the horses could leave the pasture and enter their stalls, and usually would, they apparently didn't.  The thunder was louder than normal and there was more lightning than usual.  I feed the horses around five o'clock, and then after they have had a chance to eat, dance and frolic, I put each of them in their stalls around eight or nine pm, depending upon the season. I don't like to have them out in the dark, particularly after dark when the bats come out.
                  So around eight pm, after the storm, I headed down to the barn to find all four horses grazing in a distant field in the tall grasses.   They looked up and saw me, and then went right on grazing. As I went to get four lead lines, I noticed that a portion of the corner of the fence had been broken. I made a mistake in not anticipating that this storm might be worse than the others we have almost daily each afternoon.  They must have become spooked and then challenged the fence, feeling safer out of the pasture than in it.  I used my cell phone to get some extra help. I called my husband who was in the house.   He came out immediately  and tried to drive them toward the barn which I had opened on one side.   No such luck.  All four of them took off galloping with gorgeous form looking a lot like the wild ponies in the West.  They headed for the house and galloped around the front and back yards.    Then all at once, they ran off.   I was quite worried wondering if they would somehow head for the mountain trail which leads to the farm.  The entry road is gated here, but fences don't always keep these horses in, as I just learned this evening.   All at once they reemerged galloping at top speed toward me, and I was just a little scared. I was beginning to wonder if this post was going to be "When Horses Attack ".  Just then,  Shadow slowed, and I put a lead line on him and walked him inside.  With my husband following them, the remaining three followed Shadow.  I tossed them the really excellent hay, and thanked them for returning.
                 This is my fault.  I should have anticipated that a thunderstorm could spook them, and I should have had each of them in their stalls beforehand.  This can be difficult.  They like to frolic and be out as long as they can.  Sometimes, storms come on very quickly.  Also, horses are not the only animals I have or the only thing that demands my attention.  I am grateful that they didn't injure themselves or leave hoof imprints in the body of my fairly new car !

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sweet Sir Galahad

Sir Galahad, sitting peacefully on the floor of his stall in the barn. This was a week or two before his passing.

  The post below originally appeared on our blog, "What I Learned from Daniel" in 2009.   This post talks about the loss of Sir Galahad, a beloved alpaca of ours.

On a farm, loss and death are inevitable, though for years we have gone without losing very many, and we tend to lose sight of this. This year though, there was still another loss to come. Sir Galahad is a fine 13 year old alpaca we purchased from the Pacific Northwest some years ago. Galahad's sire, Max, originated from a herd of alpacas who were from a herd in Australia.   He was a half brother to one of our dear breeding females Queen Isabelle, and he is unquestionably a dear friend in his own right. Galahad is a favorite because he is a gentle giant, and has always been a calm and loving creature. We have been aware for some time that Galahad had a low level ongoing medical problem, and this was being watched and followed. In late July, Sir Galahad did not look well. In the course of a day he did not eat, looked short of breath and did not move well. With hard work to feed him, medicate him, conversations with the vet, and even antibiotics, he began to improve a bit. I cautiously believed he might survive this particular illness. We even took him for walks while tethered, to different parts of the farm to keep his energy and mood up. At the end of July very quickly in the course of an hour, Galahad deteriorated, and while I sat with him, he passed. In those last hours, I had called the vet to euthanize him to prevent any suffering, but she did not arrive in time, and he passed quickly anyway. Daniel now has many animals he knew over the years, our golden retriever Susan, his German Shepherd Jake, two large white chickens, and now dear sweet Sir Galahad. Galahad also joins his sister Queen Isabelle,  who passed of a brain tumor a couple of years ago, and his niece alpaca named Shakria who died while a (young) cria.  (An alpaca baby is called a cria) I hope they are all together and all happy. It has taken me two weeks to be able to write about this. I know that when we love, being parted and losing is inevitable, but we seem to have more of our share of this lately. Sir Galahad received a farm funeral fitting for any royalty or head of state. Be sure to spend time with your beloved animals today.

 Alpacas can live  fifteen to twenty years in captivity when receiving terrific care.  Those with longstanding medical problems can deteriorate very quickly and can be very challenging to their farm veterinarians.  Sir Galahad was known to have a congenital issue.

Jake, the German Shepherd

Jake, our elderly dog, just weeks before his passing.

 The body of the post below, originally appeared on my blog, "What I Learned from Daniel" in February, 2009.    It relates to the background of animal rescue
and this farm, and so I have included it.


I had not realized that I had not made a single post in February, but I suppose this is not surprizing. Daniel has a dog named Jake, a large male purebred German Shepherd that we rescued one Fourth of July about an hour before planned euthanization. We had seen the dog the week before and waited for the owner or someone to come for him. We could not leave such a majestic animal there to die. Taking him wasn't a bright thing to do as we already had other male dogs on the farm. In addition, Jake, who should have been about 100 lbs, was only 33 lbs ! We thought heartworm was also a real possibility. We took a chance and found that he not only didn't have heartworm, but that once his parasites were cleared, he gained weight just fine. He would follow Daniel, and all of us. Four years ago the vet told us that Jake might not make it through the winter. She cited that he was of advanced age and that hip issues and other disorders would affect a shepherd as old at ten. We put him on glucosamine chondroitin and vitamins and we were careful that he did not overdo. He really looked wonderful and functioned very well.
In February, Jake who was by then, 14 years old, had a stroke. He was unable to use his rear legs, was newly incontinent, and had trouble eating and drinking. Because he was not in pain, we did not euthanize, but instead brought him in the house, hand fed him chicken and held his water dish so he could get it. We placed him on pillows with chux and turned him every 2 hours during the day. We kept him clean with baby wipes etc. He was not in pain and was cooperative and I think appreciative. This took almost all of our time. As the vet had indicated, he did improve slightly each day over that week, but one evening, I noticed his breathing was slightly labored. I told him that if Jesus came, or Daniel came to get him that he should go, and that we were very grateful for all the time we had with him here. We told him that we would be okay with his looking after Daniel in Heaven. A few minutes later, he was quietly gone. Jake looked peaceful and beautiful, and Daniel has his shepherd with him once again. We will miss our dear faithful friend but know he joins Daniel and other beloved animals from this farm. We are lucky to have had him here, and fourteen years for a German Shepherd purebred is quite remarkable.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Beginning




  It's sad to think that the best years of my life were lived when my son Daniel and my father were still alive, but I believe this to be true.  Daniel was the youngest of our four biological children and very much enjoyed time with all of our family, our farm, and especially animals.  While he was on the Earth, we rescued as many animals as we could and either found them homes, or kept the ones with ongoing issues ourselves throughout their lifespans.  At first we had only dogs.  Then later we rescued a few cats but found that we had to relocate those directly to new homes as Daniel was allergic to them.  We also raised alpacas, and ducks and chickens.
                  In November of 2008, just after the death of my father, Daniel walked into the bathroom and collapsed.  He had not been unwell in any way, and we intended to go Christmas shopping that morning.  Despite CPR,  two doses of epinephrine, the use of an AED by the deputy sheriffs, and top flight care from a fully staffed helicopter ICU which landed on the front yard of the farm,  Daniel never took another breath. His heart never beat again, and he never awakened.  He was briskly called to Heaven while the rest of the family stood dumbfounded.
                 The autopsy revealed a healthy young man of 12 1/2 with completely clean coronary arteries, and no discernible reason for a sudden unexplained death.   Eventually, pathologists decided that the absence of anything structurally wrong meant that the problem had been functional and not structural.  They believed that Daniel had endured a sudden heart rhythm disturbance or arrhythmia, and that his particular arrhythmia had been incompatible with continuing life.  It did not comfort me to hear how many children and teens had collapsed and died on soccer fields, or playing baseball that year.  My youngest son was gone.
                 In those early days, all I could do was continue to take care of the people he loved, and the animals who were so important to him while he was here.  All of Daniel's animals were rescues, and these are their stories, and the stories of this farm.