Yesterday afternoon, in the sheep barn stall, under a cloudy sky, our Dan was "put to sleep"... such a tender term for such a difficult event. He had stopped eating and drinking, nature's way of helping a life to end and to help us humans accept that our animal has chosen its time. I held his head in my lap for about an hour before, cradling him with my love which soothed him and helped him to rest. I could see from my position Bella, our female Maremma, pacing back and forth outside the barn, looking in our direction, slowing down to look our way, but not coming in. Dan went in and out of his restful place. Dennis came in and gave him a sedative. He relaxed more and I held him so close. Just before Dennis gave him the euthanasia medicine, one my favorite ewes, Gracie, walked into the stall and blaated. She stood over Dan, sniffed him and continued to stand next to him. We moved her and she faced the outside of the stall and began blaating. I wondered if she was trying to get the rest of the flock to acknowlege what was happening and for them to come say their goodbyes, a goodbye to their protector who had guarded them so steadfastly for the last eight years.
Dan died quietly and peacefully. We called Bella to come in. We had to coax her into the stall. She glanced quickly at Dan and turned away. She just would not look at him. Gracie stood guard for some time. Arnold, Dennis and I stayed there for several minutes in silence while the sheep blaated to one another. We wrapped Dan up in a blanket and drove him to our pet burial ground on a mossy knoll in a beautiful thicket of blossoming mountain laurel overlooking the pond. And here is where BoomBoom sensed something was not right. After resting Dan in the ground and partially burying him, BoomBoom came over and sniffed the grave and sat in it. He did this when we buried Flippy as well. They are tuned in to so much more than we think , or maybe want, to know.
And so we say goodbye to a legend in his own time. He rests now above the others buried before him, at the top of the burial ground where his spirit can overlook the peaceable kingdom he created in our world. Rest in peace, our Dear Dan. The tender animal communications surrounding your death was your last and one of your most precious gifts left behind for us. Thank you, thank you, my Danny Boy.
Noble in spirit
Wise beyond mere mortal grasp
Tell us what you know