Deenah, my sweet old friend, was euthanized 4 days ago. I am so unspeakably sad and find it hard to write about. She was bone-thin and continuing to lose weight in spite of my dedicated efforts to feeding her. We did blood work but of course couldn't rule out a tumour, which the vet was pretty sure was robbing her of nutrition.
I couldn't somehow see what seemed so obvious to everyone else who saw Deenah. Full of the hope that I could "beef" her up over summer, she was allowed generous grass and separated several times during every day from the minis, so she could enjoy bowls of soaked hay cubes, beet pulp and soy bean hulls. She got added supplements and piles of hay that I sorted through to make sure there weren't too many coarse strands that might make her choke.
I was deliberating over a new winter blanket or a cozy liner for her old one. But then last weekend, Deenah stopped eating everything except for grass. And that she ate with a desperation that was painful to watch. I tried all the familiar remedies - adding grated carrots to her mash, soaking the hay cubes in peppermint tea, apples, banana, sprinkles of dried molasses. I cut up her hay with scissors, I eliminated the strong-smelling supplements.
Looking at her thin frame was painful - her hair began to fall out down to bald, pink skin and she was getting sores from laying down and getting up again - her hips and flank were skeletal and her back bone sticking up. With her inability to eat, I knew the end was near and that her body was under stress. She could now get some pretty nasty complications, such as hyperlipaemea.
The stress of her illness was hard on the minis too. They knew something was wrong. So in consultation with the vet, we made the horrible decision to end Dee's life while she still had an ounce of dignity and before some horrible catastrophy occured, possibly in the middle of the night.
Living on a small island, all of us who own livestock worry about being separated from vet services.
I tried so hard to think about Deenah's euthanasia as a final gift to her - I know she was suffering - but I also felt that last Tuesday was "not her day," and that weighs heavily. However, without a crystal ball, no
one knows what could have happened - all we knew was that Dee was not going to get better. And donkeys are so stoic that their suffering is not always apparent. By the time you can tell, it's usually much worse than you thought.
So ... a sunny day, a compassionate death and now many, many tears. The minis spent three hours grazing near Deenah's body. Dorica kept going over to sniff her nostrils, to see if any breath remained.
Then she'd come and sniff mine and we stood together, me crouched beside Dorrie, gently blowing on her nose and both of us wallowing in sadness. Siog was curious but seems more bewildered than sad.
Now, several days later, the barn feels so empty without my comic big strawberry roan girl to greet me. Dorica brayed for the first time yesterday but is mostly very quiet. I am keeping them busy with short clicker training sessions and have made two attempts to take them out for a walk together, but that's proving too challenging. Siog wants to run, Dorrie wants to shamble and both want to nudge me over to either side of the road for a nibble of grass. We are a bit stuck, as walking is what we love to do and I won't leave a donkey home alone while out with another.
I'm sure another donkey will join us eventually but the hole left by my friend Deenah will be very hard to fill. The presence of absence ...