A week on the ranch (January 17 - January 23, 2011)
by, 01-24-2011 at 12:36 AM (793 Views)
As some of you know, I had to euthanize Samson, my alpine dairy goat, on Saturday. So most of this week was caught up in treating him and agonizing over whether to keep going. By Thursday, I was pretty sure there was no point in prolonging his suffering, but when the vet came out Friday, she delayed putting him down until she could run blood tests, because he still had so much fight in him. On Saturday morning, when the tests came back, she agreed it was time. I've attached a picture of Samson, taken on the morning of the last day of his life. It is sadly the only picture I have of him, or at least the only one I could find when I started looking on Friday. I wanted to put a face to the name, for all who have been following his battle.
Samson came to me approximately nine years ago, with a female goat I named Delilah. A "neighbor" across the valley from me called in a panic one cold winter day, asking me if I could help him catch two wild goats that had appeared on his lawn that morning. I drove over with a bucket of grain, and his "wild" goats came running to me. We tried to find their owners, with no luck, so the two goats, Samson and Delilah, became part of my flock.
Delilah, unfortunately, was so tall that she could jump my four foot fences. I found her body outside the property one day, several years after her arrival, and I can only presume that she jumped the fence and was then killed by a predator. But maybe not, because she didn't have a single mark on her. Maybe she was just old and decided she wanted to die as a free goat. I'll never know.
After Delilah's death, Samson formed a deep friendship with my donkey, Buddy. Samson and Buddy hung out together and Buddy would let Samson use him as a stepping stool, of sorts, letting Samson jump up and rest his front hooves on Buddy's ribs for stability while Samson went for the oak leaves that were higher than anyone else could reach. Samson would also stick his head under Buddy's chin, and they would simultaneously get a head rub and a chin rub. I would often see them standing together, just quietly enjoying each other's company.
Approximately two weeks ago, Samson got into the tack room and ate close to half a bag of grain. Several days after that, he went into acidosis as his body was overwhelmed by the overdose of rich carbohydrates, and the fight to save his life began.
At 1:20P on January 22nd, he lost that fight, and after receiving a sedative from the vet, he laid his head down in my lap, but did not sleep. He would not close his eyes, but looked up at me, his body thin and trembling from the ravages of the infection, and I looked back at him, petting his cheeks and crying, and promised him that he would be free of pain soon. The vet then administered a lethal dose into Samson's vein, and his life slipped away.
I am an atheist. I do not believe in a god and I do not believe in an afterlife, so I don't think that Samson went to some version of goat heaven or is waiting for me at the end of a bridge made out of rainbows. I don't think Samson will be reincarnated, at least not in the religious sense. I do believe, however, that Samson was not just a physical being, but also a being of energy, and that his energy, having left his physical self, is still tangible and present in some ways. As Samson died, as I whispered to him my sorrow and grief at his having to die, I watched his body transform from the vessel that contained the wonderful energy that was Samson to just a body.
In my darkest moments, I think of all the things I might have done that could have resulted in Samson surviving, and I blame myself for the loss of something that can never be replaced, for the loss of a being who was unique and special and who deserved to have more time to enjoy the feel of sunshine, the taste of spring grass, and the physical pleasure of a good head scratch. In my darkest moments, I feel like I murdered him with my neglect and ignorance.
I planted a peach tree in Samson's honour on the day he died. It is but a paltry physical symbol of my affection for him, but when I harvest peaches from it in the future, it will make me smile, because I will know that it is Samson's tree.
I will miss him always, maybe less terribly in the days to come than I do at this moment, but he will always be remembered and loved, he will always be missed, and I will always wish that he were still here.