We tried everything. We called the vet out in the middle of the night. Twice.
When that one didn’t have any answers, we tried a different Vet.
We kept her going long past the point when our practical vet told us we could, we should, put her down.
We tried herbs. $200 in herbs.
“Well,” the equine herbalist said, “You might as well give my herbs a shot before you put her down.”
Apparently the herbs needed more time to work, and we were running out of time.
We picked her up with the tractor and a belt. In the dark of night. In the cold. In the sleet and rain and mud.
She tried to bite my husband.
When she couldn’t reach him, she bit her own baby.
She made it known that she was TIRED of getting up.
Not tired of eating. Never tired of eating. She was a kindred spirit, that donkey.
I covered her with a blanket and brought her fresh hay and water, and her favorite feed in a bucket. I kicked the poo away from her bottom. Because she couldn’t even get up to poop. Poor thing.
And we kept picking her up. Almost every 24 hours, from Thanksgiving until New Years, my husband and I were out in the field with the tractor, the forks, and a belt strapped under a big white donkey. Mammoth Jackass, to be exact.
“Get up Jewel, Get up! Come on, Get up!” Me pulling and yanking and screaming and pleading.
Since the Western Vet had long ago given up on her, we called out an Eastern Vet.
She came out in the snow and sleet and set up shop in our field.
“Well, before you put her down, you might as well give this a shot.” Said the Eastern Veterinarian. Hmmmm. This is sounding familiar.
She did a chiropractic treatment on our Donkey.
Then she did acupuncture. Giant needles in her spine. Heated up with a chinese cigarette.
Jewel didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she calmed down and seemed to enjoy her $150 hot spa acupuncture treatment in the snow.
The next day she was down in the field. Again.
This time she wouldn’t get up. She didn’t look around and wait for her food to be served within range.
She just laid there. Head down. Rasping deep breaths.
And this time I knew it was time to give up. Past time. She had tried to tell us she was done with this world, and I wouldn’t listen.
I took Lucy, her baby, away, where she wouldn’t see.
I didn’t cry. Not this time. I’d already said done that the last time I thought it was the end for her. But I still jumped at the sound of the shot.
I nearly went into hysterics when I couldn’t get the gate open. The field is a muddy mess, and my husband is driving toward me, with our giant mammoth donkey’s body dangling from the straps and the tractor forks and I can see it all out of the corner of my eye, even though I’m trying so hard not to look, and I CAN’T GET THE GATE TO OPEN!!!
I nearly lost it again when I finally opened the gate, and Little Lucy came running behind. Chasing after her momma.
You’ve never heard heart breaking until you’ve heard a baby donkey cry for it’s momma.
Oh my heart.
So I stood in the field and held her and loved on her. In the freezing cold. With snot running freely. I told her we’d done all we could, but there was nothing left. No more vets to call. No more herbs to give. We’d done all we could, and then some.
Why is it so hard to let go? Why did I feel the need to go to such extremes for a donkey?
I don’t really know. Maybe it was because she’s done so much for us. She shared her milk with our little girl. She missed when she kicked. (Most of the time.)
And until she let me know that she had finally given up on this life, I just couldn’t bring myself to give up on her.
Maybe it’s because we’ve been here before, with PANDAS disease…we’ve been to doctor after doctor, from Western medicine to Eastern Medicine, searching for answers, for someone to finally figure this thing out and give us the cure.
And for us, part of our miracle came in the form of a big white donkey and her little baby Lucy. And a few cups of donkey milk a day. She was an answer to so many prayers…
So maybe I felt we owed it to her, after all she gave to us.
This week, the other donkeys have been mad at us. Rose tried to bite me. Well, she didn’t really try. She would have bit me if she’d really wanted to. She just nipped in my direction and let me know she was mad. Jewel was her buddy. Her buddy who kicked her and stole her food, but still, her buddy.
Cinnamon kicked at milking time. Cinnamon, who never, ever kicks.
And Little Lucy meets us at the gate and cries. When the other babies race to their mothers after milking, she walks slowly through the gate after them, and comes straight to me for her scratches and hugs and love. If I didn’t know better, I’d let her sleep on the floor by my bed at night.
Whoever said that donkeys were dumb animals, never knew and loved a donkey.
PS. Before I get hate mail, please don’t judge us for not using a triple shot of poison from the Vet. This is actually the method our Western Vet recommended for putting down an animal of that size. For one, if you have to bury them, you have to put them at least 6 feet down if you “euthanize” them. If you don’t, and your dog digs them up and eats them, the sheer amount of poison in them will kill your dog. Now, think about that for a minute…we’re euthanizing giant animals and burying them…and they’re full of so much poison that it will kill an animal that eats them….but instead they’ll decompose, and the poison will go where? In your water? In your organic garden? In your neighbors well? This is starting to sound less and less logical. Not to mention the ground is frozen. The logistics of burying a mammoth donkey six feet under aren’t in your favor. Still, if you find yourself in the awful position of having to put down your large livestock, and I hope that you don’t, make sure you know what you’re doing and where to put it. Donkeys have extremely hard skulls and it can ricochete if you do it wrong. Or take more than one shot. Both are very bad scenarios.
For the record, we called an animal disposal service rather than digging a whole that big. Another $150. Sigh. If you measure your love by the money you spend, she was one very loved donkey.
So when you see me in my old jeans and out of style parka, just remember, my donkey was loved.
This farm girl has her priorities straight.