I've always loved animals. It really doesn't matter what animal it is. I used to catch frogs, snakes, stray cats, butterflies, chickens, caterpillars, injured birds, stray dogs. It really didn't matter. If it came near me, it would be my friend.
I have always been a little more partial to the fluffy animals. When we took in Jackson, the alpaca, his fluffiness was extreme! He hadn't had a good haircut in quite awhile and he was like 20 stuffed animals rolled in to one.
He was sassy. And he was the protector of the barnyard. He wasn't too fond of the chickens, after a few of them decided his back would make a good roost last winter. The goats were his babies. And even with his general wariness of chicken feet, he still protected the chickens as well.
When we had a vet come out last year, he said Jackie was pretty old. Of course it's hard to know for sure. He was a hand-me-down animal. We got him from a family who got him from a family, who got from a family, etc. No one really knew where or when he started.
So with his unstable history, I am glad that we got to give him a good last home. He felt at home here. He loved the other animals. He loved the kids. He tolerated me ;) I entered "his" barnyard a bit too much for his liking. But he allowed it. And when I grabbed his big, long neck and gave him a hug, he let me.
He was fine today. I went out and saw him when I got home this afternoon. I've been checking in on the animals a little extra after Roo died last week. Roo was another one that came to us old. I liked Roo, but I could never get quite as fond of him . . . he was an intact male goat . . they tend to pee on everything and everybody.
So, when I went out this afternoon, everyone was doing just fine. They all came up to the fence. I pet their heads. When we got back home from guitar, Jackie was laying on the ground. This wasn't uncommon, he laid down regularly. His head was up, and he was looking around. I rolled down the window and yelled "hello" to him. He twitched his ear at me and kept looking around.
When we found him tonight, it looks like he just curled up his long neck and head for a nap; and didn't wake back up. The other goats were standing around him crying. That made it harder. Susie, especially will have a hard time with this. She was the last baby goat, so she was still his baby. He liked to take care of the babies. Bella, the one who I thought didn't get along with him the most, tried to follow him out when we removed him. :(
Tonight, thru my tears, I will be thankful for our time with our older animals. I am thankful for having the chance to have Jackson the alpaca. I am thankful for Roo the goat too. I am thankful for everyone still alive. We've only got a handful of older animals at this point. I hope they hang in there for awhile. I don't think the hearts in this house could stand to lose anyone else anytime soon.