Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Monday, August 04, 2014

For Sugee...and me

Last Friday was a day of phone calls to my various vets. Sugee's condition is not really improving and I think it is time to begin to let go. About a week ago, I sat in the pig pen watching Sugee after she'd recovered from yet another seizure. I looked upwards and asked for a clear decision on what I should do. And then I said out loud, while Old Rudy lay beside me napping,

"I know what I have to do."

And I do know what I need to do. I'm just now stepping back from the decision, so I can time it all in the best way for animal and caretaker. It's been horribly hot and it has been hard to get much done around the farm, let alone think about putting Sugee to sleep.

I told my vet today-this should be an easy decision-she's 40, lost drastic amounts of weight almost overnight, her weight is not going back on, she has had 4 seizures in the last couple weeks- and those are the ones I've witnessed-we've done blood work- this should be an easy decision. But we both agreed for some reason this one isn't. To be honest, I'm not even that bonded with Sugee. I guess maybe I am bonded to making sure I do what is best for her, after all she has been through, having her ears chewed off, being neglected for so long {Please do not give me medical advice about seizures. I have three good vets.}

Besides the emotive photos and fun stories about The Misfits, there is part of this place that involves making life and death decisions. People tell me all the time they want to do what I do here at the farm, with old animals- so this is part of it - helping them on their way. Burying or cremating a larger animal is not easy...or cheap. You have to think about details like this. Like getting the animal to the burial hole, or taking the dead animal to be cremated. I prefer the animals that come here to be buried here, but we have to be realistic, we can't bury every large animal. There are natural ways to deal with a body after death-some carry them high up into the hills if they have enough land and within 3 days the body is eaten. I don't disagree with this, but I have sheep and not enough land to make this safe or realistic. And I just don't want to do that with Sugee. Like I said, she already had her ears chewed off by a dog. Though she would be gone, for myself, and the covenant I have with her, cremation or burial feels right for me, not being eaten by a coyote. And besides, you can't do it if you euthenize an animal, as it is poison to those eating the carcass.

It's my responsibility to do what is best for Sugee, not necessarily me, or my wallet.  I found at one place it will be $350-$900, depending on several factors like transport and private or group cremation. Martyn can rent a back hoe for $350 and make a hole for her now, and cover it so it is ready if we need to act quickly- but that is problematic and would require the hole being near by, and then I'd have to cover it so no one gets hurt. We buried Giacomo this way and had to wait 2 days to get the track hoe, while he lay in state. But he was suffering badly and it was clear he had to put down immediately, especially after we saw his blood work.

My vet pointed out we'd helped Sugee for her last year, we gave her back her dignity and she had a year to be with her daughter and get her settled. And she is 40. Her heart rate and murmer don't allow us to float her teeth anymore. It takes her all day to eat 3# of feed, and she still is a bone. If she were in a pasture on her own, she would have died naturally long ago. And she won't make it through winter in this condition. She is not appearing to be putting on weight very well. Blood work shows nothing weird. It could be cancer, brain tumors...who knows. But the seizure that happened last Thursday caused her to fall on her eye and it was  swollen shut for a few days. This is the danger of seizures, the horse can fall or get into all sorts of worse predicaments, break legs, teeth, etc.. If you have ever tried to help a seizuring horse-and Sugee is only about #200- it is not easy, and can be dangerous–it is not pleasant, it is scary.

So Sugee won't be with us much longer. I just need the strength and common sense to get it done. And I will. Like many times when I know death is pending, I turn to art to help me prepare. I did this right after I knew I had to let her go. She'll be safe and out of discomfort. She's been through so much, I want her to have white clouds and green whereever she goes.

The time is coming. I think it will come to a point where I know another week, or day, doesn't matter to her. Getting her on her way before she suffers from a bad fall is what is needed. I know this.


Lis said...

Wishing I could transfer energy and stamina to you, to aid you on this. I am grateful for having had the chance to visit with Sugee and being surprised by how incredibly soft her coat was, how well she stood while we all crowded about her, stroking and whispering to her. In my yoga room I have hanging the painting I made in Capturing the Essence: the moment of my cat's spirit flying out of her body when she passed. Every day that image reminds me of the fullness of our relationship. In that last act, she taught me so much. I am grateful for discovering how art can help me access these deeper gifts and messages. Love to you all.

Anonymous said...

Never and easy decision and difficult with a large creature like her. Wishes for a peaceful transition for her and for you. xox

Jan said...

I know it won't be easy but knowing it is time helps make it a tiny bit easier. Poor old gal, she was fortunate to have made it to you and surely feels grateful if indeed they can feel gratitude. My heart is with you.

Unknown said...

My first dog, true love dog, had seizures at the end. It was very painful to witness. I said, when he stops eating then I will know. He ate a big huge homemade dinner the night he died. I was just getting ready to take him to the vet and he gave me the gift of passing on his own. Since then I've taken two other pets to the vet to help them. It's hard every single time. Sending you all love.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks, everyone. It is not the fun part, that's for sure.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~