The Inevitable

When you have lots of animals, you’d think you would get used to death.  It is, obviously, a part of life, but it doesn’t really get any easier.  I suppose those farmers who raise meat animals get used to it, but those of us who don’t, still find it sad to lose a member of the herd.  Alpacas aren’t the same as pet dogs and cats.  They don’t bond with us the way that pets do, or even the way horses can bond.  Nevertheless, when you’ve taken care of them for years, used their beautiful fiber, watched them raise their young and interacted with them on a daily basis, it is hard to see them go down.  When we first got into alpacas, we used to tell people that they lived into their mid-twenties.  I guess that was based on llamas, because the lifespan of most alpacas that I’ve heard about has been late teens.

Caraz, who was euthanized yesterday, was an import from Australia with a birth year documented as 1995, making her 19 this year.  She’d been thin for a couple of years but still made very nice fiber.  In fact, her last year’s fleece is at the mill now, being spun into yarn with MoonDance’s fleece.  Caraz made it through this past cold winter, wearing her coat, but ten days ago we found her down in the stall on her side.  We got her into cush position and she was able to get up.  But after a few days, she could no longer get up at all.  We’d help her up and she was able to walk stiffly to the poop pile, the water and the hay, but did not stay up for long.  Whenever she tried to get up, she fell over onto her side, and couldn’t right herself from there.  It was time.  Now when you know it is time for a pet to go, you pack them into the car and take them to the vet.  But when a large animal can’t walk, you can’t do that.  Our vet was coming out for the annual rabies herd shots, so we had to wait for that.  We tried to make her as comfortable as possible during the wait.  When the herd all went outside, we’d go out to try to get her up so she wouldn’t be stressed by being left alone.  More than once we found her grand-daughter Susannah and her great-granddaughter Judy Blue, standing inside nearby.  Did they know she was a relative?  We’d get her up and they all would go outside.

Susannah and Judy as a youngster.

Susannah and Judy as a youngster, Caraz’s legacy

Caraz was a typical import.  She was spitty and grouchy and never liked us.  Susannah inherited that temperment, but thank goodness Judy Blue is a sweetie.  But Caraz did pass on her wonderful fleece characteristics, so for that we are thankful.  Despite her crabby disposition, it was still sad to see her deteriorate and sad to put her down.

Dick teased me by asking, “Do you think Caraz will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge?  She’d come over, spitting at you all the way?”.  I laughed and said that I didn’t think alpacas would want to wait for their owners.  They rather spend eternity with other alpacas in perpetually green meadows.

Rest In Peace, Caraz, you old witch.  We’ll enjoy your yarn, and Judy’s too.