Charka went missing and was gone for 5 days. He was not there when I went out to do a quick round of morning chores around 9 am this morning. I looked for him with hope and promise and hung my head again, with tears in my eyes, not seeing that big black dog with the gentlest brown eyes, looking back at me, searching my face and looking for some love. But when I went out at noon, there he was.
His head was down and he was very thin. Some of his coat was recently matted and his eyes were dim. I was elated to see him and hugged him gently, not knowing his state. He followed me around awhile, then laid with his good friend Jade, but he soon fell asleep in the warm sun and soft hay. I came to him to check his body then, while he was relaxed and not in any way threatened. Robbie was challenging him and wanted a fight. I whacked Robbie on the butt with a bucket and sent him away and he growled at me. I grabbed his collar and put him down, still growing at me. He has never done that before. Something was amiss. I made sure he understood that I was the boss and then took him to tie him up and went back to Charka.
Charka's face is swollen badly. He was definitely in a fight and won, but paid the price at the same time. His throat was attacked with multiple bite wounds, his collar likely saving him from something more serious than what I saw. I felt his body for broken bones and further injuries. It appears that the worst was the throat under his neck, and he had a few more bites here and there, but nothing as serious. I came back with a shot of penicillin, long acting, and later gave him Metacam, a pain reliever for dogs. These things I keep on hand. Having over a hundred animals on a farm, there is always something that happens whether it is a cut on wire or a gash from a tree branch, a puncture wound or bites. I do not automatically use medications, and if the next day or two the animal appears to be recovering without swelling and other problems, I let them do so on their own. Charka definitely needed help. If the swelling of his face does not respond within 24 hours, he will have to see the vet. Last time it was Joe, who had an abscess in his cheek. $350 later, a shunt for drainage and antibiotics for a week, Joe was on the way to recovery, slowly.
Life is fragile. We who are healthy sometimes spend little time concerning ourselves with living or dying. Here on the farm, I am much more in touch with how precious life is and how quickly it can be snuffed out untimely. Then there is my old ram, Bob, who has had a very good life and now, is just letting go slowly. I picked him up today, the second time he has been down and unable to stand on his own. One morning I will come out and he will be lying there in peace, the old soldier gone home.
Sometimes baby lambs are born backwards and do not live, not often, actually only once in my 6 years playing farmer, but it did happen. Or a kid goat simply does not make it. New life is anticipated and babies are loved, but an old life like Bob, well, there is something so very touching upon the departure of a friend, be it four legged or two.
I am so relieved Charka is home. He will once again sing to me when I come home, greeting me at the gate with his big tail wagging his body and those beautiful brown eyes, so full of love, searching my green ones, just vying for a moment of my time and pat that ensures his love. We never know when, how , where or why. But life is a gift and today, my gift has returned. With gratitude in my heart, I will sleep well tonight.