Saturday, April 1, 2017

We Will Be Missing Maxine

       
No pictures were ever taken of Maxine, but this is probably what she looked like when she was younger.
 


                 When unscrupulous hunters find they have dogs who have aged out of usefulness, or are ill, or aren't great hunters, they drive them out to the country, remove their collars, and abandon them. A friend of ours who lives nearby has witnessed this more than once.  Two of them found their way here to the farm this year.  Some years, we return fifty hunting dogs to those who tag or microchip them. Very occasionally, when we are unable to find the former owner of a dog after advertising the picture, we keep them. This has happened about four times in twenty years. Two of them came to us within the past year.
             One of these dogs we named Maxine.  Our son James spied her one evening this Winter on our property, terribly thin, cold and hungry. We had tried to catch her before, but she had been leery of human beings. James placed her in the isolation kennel room and visited her often.  We can't adopt too many of these abandoned dogs because we have our own dogs and as they age, their veterinary expenses can be quite expensive.  A new elderly dog can be quite an expense. Since we have no proof of their rabies status, we will need to get them a rabies shot, and in one year, it must be repeated. It will be every three years thereafter. Although I do all the shots on the farm, rabies shots on dogs and cats in our state must be done by a veterinarian. They also will need a heartworm test and then heartworm preventive. A starving dog can't be given large amounts of food initially. They have to be carefully fed, often with a more expensive product until their stomachs can tolerate food, and then over time, they may be able to be advanced to a more typical food. When she is well enough, they receive an annual distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and coronavirus vaccine.  Maxine was an extremely elderly hound. Every one of her teeth was broken or in poor condition. The vet thought she was extremely old and that she probably had been abandoned after the last hunting season. She had also never been spayed.  No one claimed her.
            We decided that we would take care of Maxine, and that she could live the rest of her days here with us on the farm. She was particularly fond of the other hunting dog here.  At first we started with a chicken and rice dog food which she loved. Over time, she was advanced to a grain free dry food which had small pieces. We also added a wet food to it.  It didn't take long before she adored us. The elderly dog would jump like a puppy !  Despite the fact that the vet thought she was living on borrowed time, and likely had some organ damage from protracted starvation, I genuinely thought she had about the better part of a year. She had been through so much, and now finally had a family who loved her, and a group of dogs where she belonged.
            Several days ago, Maxine seemed quiet. She didn't eat as well as she did normally. She was drinking well and urinating quite a bit. She is a very old dog, I told myself. This afternoon, she had a seizure, and then lay quietly in her kennel room. Our other dogs were quite upset.
             At five, when I checked her again, she began another grand mal seizure. I wondered why I always lost dogs on a weekend.  I surmised that she was in renal failure, and that her fluid and electrolyte imbalance was the cause of her seizures. I hoped this wouldn't go on long.  We stayed with her, stroking her and speaking to her softly in between seizures. We were careful to avoid being accidentally bitten.  Then I began to cry, and I put my hands together,

                            Heavenly Father,
                          Thank you for bringing this sweet animal to us.
                          I am sorry that more of her life was not spent here with us.
                          Lord, please don't let her suffer like this.
                          She has lived a long life and she deserves to go Home, quickly and safely.
                          Lord, you know I can euthanize her if I have to, but I don't want to do that.
                          (I was referring to the fact that even loving farmers will end a beloved animals    suffering with a bullet if need be, and I would have, had this gone on too long.)
                            Please call her Home Lord. I know that we will see her again.
                            In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

       My husband said Amen.

                And then, Maxine took one last breath, let it out, and died.

 I looked at my husband and said,  "That's the fastest that the Lord has ever answered any one of my prayers."      Then we both cried.

                  Maxine's body has been wrapped and will be buried on the farm tomorrow.

  Her soul soars back to the loving God who made her and shared her with us, and who called her home, just after five in the afternoon today.







Monday, January 9, 2017

A Rooster Goes Home


One of these birds is Chuck as a hatchling.





  You might recall that we hatched the fertilized eggs from our Rhode Island Red rooster, Ross, and the three Bantam hens we bought.  Ross is the same rooster that Daniel bought two days before his passing, and so Ross and his offspring will always be important to us. Normally there is a hatch rate of a percentage of fertilized eggs, but we were strangely lucky on our first attempt. The wet sponge in the incubator is a wonderful trick and I think it maximized the hatch rate. All the eggs we determined to have been fertilized hatched in the incubator. We had a hundred percent hatch rate !

        Since we had quite a few hens and roosters, we gave some of them to friends as they grew, but many of them remained here on the farm, including roosters.   Sometimes, animals who have known each other from hatchlings will cooperate with one another even though they are each roosters. Other times, some must be housed completely separately from others.

         Chuck was one of the roosters from this large legacy of Ross the Rooster.  Chuck is a beautiful looking rooster. He was of nice size, and had abundant red feathers with a spray of darker green ones at the tail. Some of the other roosters picked on him, and so he spent some time in a cage within the corner of the barn with other animals. Since he had a view of a beautiful hen, he seemed contented.  Each time we placed Chuck in outdoor housing, he seemed to become ill. He didn't move or eat well and he seemed to tolerate extremes in temperature and weather poorly. This was interesting because his siblings, except for one or two of the original hundred, did not.  Several times, Chuck made the journey to accomodations outside in Spring, but tolerated weather changes poorly.  Eventually, we found him a large cage designed for many more animals, and he lived in it in the corner of the barn. He watched the other animals and listened to the radio for most of the day.

          This year, Chuck would have been eight years old. He was living in the barn and had his cage cleaned daily. We would take him out to move around in the sunlight every so often. About a month ago, I noticed that Chuck had a normal wattle, but that his comb was not the crimson it should be. It looked paler somehow. I remembered that one of Chuck's brothers has a heart defect and that I had read a heart problem can cause pallor in the comb.  I decided to treat him with an antibiotic in the event that he had an underlying pneumonia. The color did not change, but afterward he seemed well.

           The last few days have been exceedingly cold here.  The outdoor chickens who has houses within fenced enclosures, seem fine. The guineas also are dealing with the cold and wind. The ducks, who are exceedingly old, and were bought when Daniel was a small boy, are spending extra time in their house, but they too are fine.  I noticed that Chuck was spending more time than usual curled up. He seemed okay, and after all, he was in a warmer spot than the others.  I did not bring out the Delonghi heater or lights because he seemed to be weathering the cold, but I kept a close eye on him.

           Today when I checked him, he seemed okay, but by this afternoon, his posture did not seem right. I took a closer look at him and he seemed to be in a torpor.  He's too cold, I thought.  I placed the Delonghi on a low setting near him.  I also gave him an antibiotic injection, and he barely noticed.  He looked healthy and beautiful other than the pale comb.

             I checked Chuck thirty minutes later and he responded as if to thank me. I stroked him and told him he was a good rooster, and that I hoped he felt better.  A half an hour later, I checked him and he was peacefully lying on his side and had passed.

             I wonder if Chuck has a similar cardiac defect to his brother who also passed?  Almost eight years is a long lifespan for a rooster with a birth defect.   Still, I will miss this bird.  I often get very close to the ones who have difficulties that require my assistance.   Goodbye Chuck.  Thanks for coming.  May you find your family in Heaven and may Daniel look out for you there, in the farm in the sky.

              Chuck was buried this weekend  overlooking both one of the hen houses, and a beautiful forest.