First is the adorable Hannah. As I drove up the long driveway at the sanctuary Saturday morning, I saw Hannah out near the pond trotting after one of the other Saturday volunteers, Leesa. She’s adorable, and she’s tiny. It wasn’t as noticeable when she was in the quarantine stall by herself, but out with the other goats you really notice. She’s still skinny, which is part of it, but she’s also shorter than even the smallest goats. She seems to like people (especially if she thinks you have food), but she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the goats yet. She’s only been out in the main group for a few days though. So Saturday she was out and about, mostly away from the other goats. It was neat watching her explore her new world. Terry says she’s comfortable with the other animals, and has laid down with the cows, apparently not concerned with the difference in species. Or size.
As I watched her, I got the feeling that she was filled with wonder, that life was a happy adventure now. I reflected on Terry’s assessment of her when she first had arrived, and how she seemed like she’d given up, didn’t lift her head or complain no matter what they did as they treated her for all the parasites and infections she had. Compare her early attitude to her current curiosity and comfort and happiness, and it makes me want to cry a little, in that happy way. I can’t help it, the change is just that beautiful.
She came from a farm in Virginia, we know that from the tag that was in her ear when she was first rescued. How she went from a farm in Virginia, where she bears the evidence of numerous babies, to wandering the streets of DC will always be a mystery. The basics are clear – she was likely a nanny goat, and her purpose was to bear babies who would be killed. For meat, or for other purposes, we don’t know. She’s not of the typical dairy goat breed, but at the small farms there are less distinctions, and any animal will be used for any purpose. She was likely sent to auction once she was “spent”, whatever that meant to the people who were profiting from her.
Once in a while, animals like her get lucky, and get to live out their lives at a sanctuary. I think Hannah knows just how lucky she is.
Wilbur is not only standing up on his own now and walking around with ease, if also with wobbles, he’s in the big pig yard now during the day. He isn’t completely happy about that – he was spoiled rotten when he was in the infirmary area and he would prefer that treatment continue indefinitely – but it is good for him. He’s walking more, and further, and that’s what he needs to continue to build up his strength. This is still amazing to me – he’s standing up on his own, he’s walking, and he’s strong enough to be in the big pig yard. To think that 2 months ago, we weren’t sure he’d live, or walk again.
Penelope is an older pig, one of those rescued 10 or so years ago from a truck on its way to slaughter that broke down in DC in the middle of a heat wave. The trucker abandoned the truck, the local animal activists saved the pigs who hadn’t already perished. They’re aging now, only about a quarter of them are still with us, and those who are deal with varying degrees of arthritis. Penelope was moved permanently to the infirmary area somewhere between 6 months and a year ago. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but she was moved there because her arthritis was getting bad enough that the big pig yard was no longer the place for her. She hadn’t stepped outside the infirmary area since being moved in there…until Saturday.
Saturday she walked outside and found herself a mud puddle that Parker (in the infirmary area recovering from an infection on his foot) and Wilbur and Jolene have been working on for a while. She laid down in it, and I swear she was smiling.
I scratched her back and muddy belly with my rake, and she grunted her happiness. After that when she’d see me near the pig barn, she’d grunt, as if she was saying “hey, you, over here! Back scratches appreciated!”
Smart pig. Who could resist? It worked every time.
It is so easy to take that common sentiment, caring for animals, and to become consistent with it. We need only think of others. Does it hurt them? Is it what they’d want? Is it what we’d want for ourselves?
It isn’t a logical maze. It is beautifully simple.