If you follow us on social media you know sweet Joliet was leaping around in a video I posted on Friday, and on Saturday I found her foaming at the mouth with extended rumen. I assume it was frothy bloat [even though she had not eaten anything that usually causes this]. I doctored her with the right stuff. She improved slightly. I also noticed her neck felt very large leading me to think something was stuck in her throat. It was also Easter weekend. I was able to talk to my vet on Easter and she said I did the right things but was concerned it was not bloat, which should have dissipated after my treatment, and she did not like the sounds of the enlarged throat area.
So on Monday, nobody could come to me. I did not want to put Joliet through a 3 hour round trip drive to the vet, and said I would wait until Tuesday. But I felt pressure to go, so I went. I knew that all the things we talked about it 'might be' were non treatable. What was the point of putting her through a trip like that. That morning she was ok, but her breathing had changed, and her rumen was softer, which is good, but still large. She got up and walked around. I knew she was uncomfortable but she wasn't thrashing out. When I went to help her to truck, she cried-not in a typical pygmy drama cry [pygmy goats are huge drama queens!], but more in a distress cry. In the truck she did ok on the trip, only talking once or twice.
I was not thinking this would end the way it did. In fact, on the way up, I reminded myself not to feel pressure to do something I felt was not necessary. I like my vets. But out west, my vets treated me more like a farmer versus a pet owner. I feel sometimes, especially with llamas and goats and ruminants, there is too quick a "Time to euthenize"...and it can lead to feeling pressure. Sometimes, you can wait to long to put an animal down. Sometimes they are failing in a normal way, and they die peacefully, and sometimes not. It's a hard call sometimes. But most vets here seem to want the quickest end. I understand not wanting suffering, but a slower natural death can often happen.
But when we got her out of the truck into the working horse stall, my vet went right for her neck area. She immediately suspected lymphoma. This would also make sense that her rumen was still large, since the throat could not cough or get rid of the foam.
She cried when touched by them. I told them I thought the trip was stressful on her, that she was calm in the truck, but I did say her breathing was more labored for sure. Her temp had been normal but this morning it had gone down.
We opted to do a throat and rumen xray. And blood work. We knew we might not have options once we saw the xrays but it might help in our understanding of what happened. As we started to do blood draw, she clearly was distressed. We decided to go right for the xrays and did those but she was anxious. When I held her she calmed but I was in the way of the xray paddles so could not assist [I did not like this!]. In the 20 or so minutes we were trying to get xrays and blood, she started declining. I was on the ground with her, cradling her head and body and at one point I felt her release and start to want to slump. She cried out-in a death like cry-they are different than a normal stress cry. I told my vet she was dying and she agreed. She got the medicne and we put her down.
I have mixed feelings about it. I wanted her to die at home. I did not want to drive her due to stress on her, but felt some pressure to do that. If I had not gotten her there [she was not as stressed at the barn] she might have gone through a bad death that night. Or she might have died that night on her own.
I know I did what I could. I was with her and she calmed everytime I held her. But I felt out of sorts.
On the way home, the words "death is life, life is death" kept coming to me. They are partners. Like the moon and sun and the wave and the shore-can't have one without the other. I got home and as I walked to the front gate, I saw her little hoof prints in the wet sand. It hurt. I was not ready. But in the end, when she got out of the truck and into the stall, I think she let go. I had told her on the way up we would make it better, and we did. I think she held it all in on the ride, and then let go.
But how she could be in a video on Friday night-I posted it on IG-and she is leaping like Pickles, with no swelling...and the next morning she was down and a day later she is gone...I just don't get it. How it came that fast-if that is what it was. I could have done an autopsy. I've done them before on sheep. They can give you hints but often don't tell you anything conclusive. I declined one and said I just wanted to get her home.
Pickles was there to greet me, and I said a solemn 'Hi Pickles." She kicked a tiny, quiet leap, almost symbolic of my feelings.