I was afraid this day would come, and it has. Tatonka was tenderly laid to rest today, Friday, August 2nd.
When I visited Tatonka on July 19th, it was actually with a mixture of joy and dread. On that day, it had become abundantly clear to me that Tatonka’s legs were never going to become supportive of his body.
When released from his “standing frame,” Tatonka could really do nothing but lie prone in the grass, all four limbs outstretched. Well, okay…he could scoot himself a tiny bit with a great deal of effort, in search of the best greens. (I think he liked the clover!) I’m happy that he did seem perfectly content to simply munch and munch.
Along with eating grass under the shade of trees, Tatonka’s true joy in his short life was being snuggled in loving human arms. There was certainly no shortage of people offering affection. He was loved by many.
On the morning of July 30th, I woke up to discover an e-mail from Ellen, at New Moon Farm Goat Rescue & Sanctuary. My heart sunk because I knew what it was going to say before I finished reading the subject line.
(At the bottom of this page, you can read what Ellen posted about Tatonka on the New Moon Farm Goat Rescue & Sanctuary Facebook page). The content is similar to the e-mail I received.
I needed to say goodbye before Friday.
About 1 PM on Wednesday July 31st, I had my last visit with Tatonka. I heard him cry as I approached, and he was happily chewing grass.
Toby the dog and Viggo the barn cat came over to me as well. It’s kind of like they knew.
I unhooked Tatonka from his sling for a bit and he seemed excited to eat a different patch of grass. He was going to take every opportunity that he was given to search for the best fodder, and he seemed “on a mission”! It actually made me laugh– I didn’t want to get in the way of his meal!
I picked him up, and supported him under his belly for a bit. Maybe I wanted to confirm one last time that his legs were, in fact, useless.
And so, it’s goodbye.
Yesterday I realized that I also said goodbye to a friend last year at this time.
This is the 2nd time that my vegan anniversary (August 1st) has become a bittersweet occasion.
On my 4th vegan anniversary, I said goodbye to Bubba.
On my 5th, I say goodbye to Tatonka.
If you read the post from last year, you’ll know how I am feeling once again, now. If I hadn’t gone vegan, I wouldn’t have known Bubba. If I hadn’t gone vegan, I wouldn’t have been touched by Tatonka.
As I write this, I’m here with my niece. She’s nine. I told her about my last visit with Tatonka, and I showed her all of my pictures of him. She asked lots of questions, and I gave honest answers.
My niece never met Tatonka, but she, too, has been touched by him. She asked me to mail her a picture of him. She asked for some paper so that she could memorialize him in her own special way. Here is her drawing. She drew him at 2 weeks old…
The following quote is from the New Moon Farm Goat Rescue & Sanctuary Facebook page:
August 1, 2013-
“Posting with a broken heart. Tonight will be the last night that sweet Tatonka sleeps beside my bed. As hard as it is, I have decided (with the help and full support of my veterinarian and volunteer crew) that it is time to let go. To let Tonka’s perfect spirit leave his damaged body, so that he can try again in a body that is whole.
When this little goat came into my life on May 17th, he was just two days old. Born with severe leg deformities, he needed special care that his breeder was not willing to provide. For the past 11 weeks, he has been the center of my world. He has received the best possible care – traditional and alternative therapies, corrective surgeries, pharmaceutical and natural remedies. We have consulted with many vets, from our own Dr. Roger and Dr. Hannah, to doctors at Cornell University and WSU. We have talked with many experienced goat breeders and people who have worked with dogs and horses with similar problems. Tonka has surely been given every chance. He has also been completely surrounded by love and healing energy, from those who saw him daily, and from those who only know him through this page. This little goat never knew anything but love.
The problem is, he has stopped trying. He is very content to be held in a lap, to lie on his belly and scoot around to eat, to nap in the sunshine. He no longer makes an effort to stand, no longer tries to walk forward towards his favorite people or treats, no longer kicks to swim in the pool. Though content, he is not making any progress towards being able to walk without help. His quality of life is just not improving. He has developed pressure sores on his chest and belly, and the scoliosis in his spine has gotten more pronounced. As he gains weight, he will begin to feel pain in his damaged bones and joints. I can’t let that happen.
And so tomorrow, Tonka will cross the bridge of light to join Bin Bin and all of the other goats who have touched our lives and passed on. I will miss him more than I can say. I know that we did the right thing in trying to help him live a good life. I know that he has known only happiness and love in his short time here. And I know that he will return to us, in a perfect little goat body that will be able to run and play and leap through the air like a little goat should.
To all who sent love, healing energy, donations for medical expenses and kind words as we worked to help this goat, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
- Why Dairy Makes Me Sick (May 17, 2013)
- Tatonka at 2 Weeks Old (May 31, 2013)
- Tatonka Post-Surgery (June 28, 2013)
- Tatonka Chewing Grass (July 19, 2013)