March 16, 2009

 

The Girls have been away from the barn for a week enjoying warm days and warm nights. They have decided to camp up along the road to Asia — Pine Sapling Plateau we call it. The Girls spend most of their days either just inside the tree line munching on saplings, or coming out on occasion to greet the caregiver who is bringing them hay, water or treats. They also can be seen out in the open monitoring the speed limits. With an occasional chase, or excited spin & trumpet, they let you know that going slow is the best option. At night they seem to go deeper in; we see this when their food is brought to them - you can hear them coming from deep in the woods; quiet crunches of the forest floor under foot, the trees giving way to their massive heads and ears. With soft rumbles they great each other, then get their night feed. “Good night Girls, see ya in the morning...”  The caregiver departs, leaving them to sleepily eat in the moonlight.

 

Last week marked the one year anniversary of Delhi’s passing.  For many of us at The Sanctuary, the staff and elephants that call Hohenwald home, and those who participate from further away, Delhi was and continues to be an inspiration.  She taught us about living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment we have with our friends and family.  Her passing was enlightening to everyone who heard her story.   Delhi’s relaxed manner of facing the end of her time with us showed everyone who was taking care of her and praying for her that we should celebrate life and cherish each and every part of it; and that death, though it marks an end to one’s life in the physical sense, is part of a greater cycle. Delhi is in everyone’s thoughts this week, including her two best friends, Dulary and Misty. 

 

Sunday evening was warm, so the barn was left open to allow the ladies to come and go as they pleased.  Around sunset a caregiver went to check on Dulary and Misty, and found that Dulary was all alone in the barn.  There is rarely an occasion when these two are separated by such a great distance, so the caregiver walked along the fence line to the South Yard.  Dulary followed along the inside of the coral.  When the caregiver reached the south yard and scanned for Misty, she noticed that Misty was, in fact, not in the South Yard, but was instead standing over Delhi’s grave.  Dulary saw her too, and made her way to her.  As the caregiver walked away from the yard, she could hear them trumpet and chatter as they stood over their dear friend Delhi

 

King of all he surveys… really seems to apply to Our Boy. With the stretch of “instant summer”, Ned has been spending these long (thank you Daylight Savings Time) warm days engaged in all his yard has to offer.  He seems to have become an expert hay tosser; he is piling up record number of flakes on his back!  Some days he may follow a staff member down the driveway and some days he spends close to the barn. We are happy to see a spark in Ned’s eye more often when we see him outside. It will be fun to see what he engages in over the next few weeks.

 

Scott writes… Eleanor (the rescued basset hound residing at the Q Barn) passed away in the early hours of March 11 just before 4 am. Eleanor spent her last day wandering through the trees, sleeping in large piles of leaves and napping on the grass.   Nori’s last 24 hours were not without difficulty, but the hard times were separated with hours of calm.  Tuesday, her energy level dropped, losing strength, having difficulty swallowing at times, particularly in the first half of the day.  Late afternoon and evening, Eleanor wandered and negotiated through the trees, twice to the far reaches of the yard to lie in a large piles of leaves.  After dusk, just before losing daylight, Eleanor was carried inside. She lay quiet and calm, tired from her excursions.  At 9pm I passed on the message that Eleanor’s energy was fading, just as it had each of the past days, a little more unstable on her feet, not quite as coordinated and a little less responsive when I carried her, but I felt that Eleanor still had another day left.  At 10pm, Eleanor still remained asleep, snoring occasionally, mixed with periods of silence, breathing deeply, yet totally quiet.  This  had been her cycle over the past week, periodically looking like she wasn’t breathing at all.  By 1am Eleanor still had not moved from her bed; never had she gone more than three hours without getting up to pee or spend a little time wandering the yard or through the house before settling back down for another rest.  3:30, Eleanor still lay snoring gently; 4am, her breathing had stopped.  

 

Several times over the past week we asked ourselves and each other what is best for Eleanor: does she need our assistance to pass?  Today we explored the question again: does she need our help to take the final step towards her new life? It was obvious that she was struggling to release the few threads that still held her to this body, and we feared that her condition would deteriorated and that she would struggle even more with swallowing, and possibly worse, making her final moments difficult for all of us to bear. After three years of bringing us happiness, watching her little legs run, greeting us at the door when arriving to the Quarantine barn, arriving back to the barn, ears and belly covered in mud or worse, but looking more precious than life herself, she brought us one more gift…Eleanor journeyed in peace.  This reassurance and peace of mind and heart affirming that our choice to embrace her journey and the path she has chosen was undoubtedly the right thing to do.   I feel grateful to have had shared part of my journey alongside Eleanor. 

 

Peace, light and happiness,

Scott