Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Journey! Heartache! 11

 “When the body that lived at your single will
 With it’s whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
 When the spirit that answered your every mood.
 Is gone- wherever it goes- for good,
 You will discover how much you care,
 And give your heart to a dog to tear.”

                 Rudyard Kipling

    This is one of the most difficult memories of Our Journey, I have had to write. I wrestled with the decision to write about this. I decided in order to understand the journey I had no choice.
 Some of you will find this hard to read, I know this because, I found it extremely hard to write, and relive in my mind.
 Be warned, this is not a happy post. It deals with great loss and the ultimate sacrifice. If you want to skip this one I understand. (Contains graphic text).

  It was getting close to the end of April. M and I were outside basking in the warmth of the sun. M was running around on the grass. She was with Rocky.
 Rocky, was a dog that came in to our lives about a month before. He was outside in the cold, through no fault of his own. He chose the farm, and us to love and take care of him. We loved Rocky instantly. He had one green eye, and one blue eye. M and Rocky were fast friends and constant companions.
 The two of them were running around chasing each other and I was watching them, while pulling weeds in front of the house.
 I hear a scream and a yelp. I see a skunk and Rocky fighting. M was running towards me. Rocky was protecting M from the skunk. I ran to the house with M in my arms I called Rocky and he came running the skunk took off in the other direction.
 I knew skunks were nocturnal, and this one was aggressive. I knew this was not going to end well. The skunk had to be sick. I kept Rocky away from M.
 My Hero came home that night and we searched for the skunk with no luck. I still kept M away from Rocky. I left him in the woodshed in the doghouse. This was not where he liked to be but I was worried.
 We were so grateful for Rocky coming into our lives and protecting M. We now know why he was sent to us. Rocky seemed fine and M was safe so we thought things would hopefully be OK. We were wrong.
 The next morning while M was sleeping I went early to the barn to feed the pigs. I carried the water down to the pen. I go to dump the water into the trough when I see the skunk curled up in the pen with the pigs. I set the bucket down quietly and run to the house.
 We had a gun in the house, hidden away for emergencies on the farm. This was one of those emergencies. I knew how to load it and keep the safety on but I had never shot anything before. M was still sleeping so I slipped out to the barn. I was shaking; terrified of killing something, terrified I would not be able to do it. I knew it had to be done to protect us all. I had to be quick and not think about it, as I was sure it would attack me if it woke up.
 I put the barrel of the gun close to its head and pulled the trigger. Being afraid that did not work, I emptied the clip. Then the tears started running down my face. It was done. I took the body outside with a shovel and phoned the Ministry of Natural Resources. They called The Ministry of Health. We had to know.
 They came right out after I told them the story. They sent its head away for testing. We carried on with our busy lives, keeping M away from Rocky, waiting for the phone call. I secretly thought the results were not going to be good.
 Positive!  Rabies!
 Things happened quickly after that. The Ministry of Health came to the farm. Quarantined.
 No selling of pigs, cattle, chickens or eggs, turkeys, or anything else for three months. No exceptions; period.
 We would have to feed and take care of all these animals without the income. We would not be able to make our payments. This was to be a financial nightmare. Could it get any worse? He continued.
 We will have to “Dispose” (his words not mine) of all the barn cats and the dog (I am thinking his name is Rocky) and then, they would come to take a sample of the brain of the dog.
 I watch his lips keep moving but I have shut down.
 Rocky had come into our lives trusting us enough to come into the house from the cold after weeks of coaxing with food. He was finally safe, and loved, and had saved our daughter. This was to be the ultimate betrayal.
 The Health Dept. guy was still talking “I am sorry you have no other choice Blah, Blah, Blah, let us know when you ‘terminate’ the dog and we will come and get the sample.” “Do it today” “You must comply.”
Then he left. I was in shock.
 I phone our vet. My Hero was out of town for work. I phone my Dad, crying. I told him what they said. I also told him the vet could not, or would not do it. He says, “Come to our house and I will take care of it.” I tie Rocky behind the house; I hug him, and say goodbye, I am crying uncontrollably. I put M in the car and off I drive. I can barely see the road.
 A little later my Dad comes back, he was shaken, and we all loved Rocky. We phoned the health board.
 My Hero came home from work; he has to put down our barn cats and kittens. He buries Rocky (minus the sample the health board had taken), and all the cats. This was not an easy experience for him. We wait for another call.
  Now, we had to deal with the extreme grief, our guilt, and the betrayal. The hard part to deal with; our little girl, crying, and asking for her dog.
 We still had to figure out how to get through this financial crisis. This was going to be a very long three months.
  Thank you Rocky, I am so sorry, we still miss you.



  1. What a heart breaking story.

    Rabies is a difficult to deal with, some people here even vaccinate their livestock, large and small from rabies.

    It's okay, you did what you had to do.

  2. Gail: We were very naive farmers when we first started farming and we did not know the dogs history as it was a stray. We are a little smarter now. Lessons are always learned, some the hard way. B

  3. Dear Buttons, I'm sorry you had to go through that experience. You can never be too careful with rabies especially if there is other animals around that may become affected. Like Gail said, you did what you had to do. Big hug, Claud

  4. Perhaps this will make you feel better.

    1. My husband puts down any animal on our farm that needs to be put down. This included his girl, Dog -- a coonhound he loved above all other dogs.

    2. You had no choice but to do what you had to do. You had to protect your other animals and your livelihood. Whether the other animals had rabies or not -- it was the only choice.

    3. Farms can be a cold place to live, and I'm not talking about the weather. I respect what your father and your husband did. It's the old way and the right way.

    Big hugs from your friend in Nebraska.

  5. Buttons, that must have been so horrible. Good of you to share such a powerful story.

  6. well done, brave woman. you could have pretended none of this was happening. But Rocky would have been bitten sooner or later and put you, your family and the rest of the neighbourhood at risk. You made the right choice.

  7. Claude Thank you it had to be done. B

  8. Nancy: It had to be done and I know that. It was not easy but that saying"What doesn't kill you , makes you stronger." is so true.Thank you.

  9. Sara It was horrible and I was not sure I should write it but sometimes people can learn lessons from other peoples experiences. Thank Sara. B

  10. Marianne Rocky had bit the skunk so we knew there was a chance of him being infected. Thanks B

  11. I like dogs more than most people. RIP Rocky it is so unfair time wasn't on his side and he couldn't have been tested. Putting a pet down should always be an act of mercy and never betrayal. I'm so sorry.

    Why is it skunks are the worst at carrying rabies? You never hear of a rabid possum or groundhog.

  12. Ohh Dear this is terrible and I feel very sad for what you had to go through with this... poor rocky i wish nly there had been a nother method to do that test but in this case you didn't have a some points of our lives we just have to be really strong to get through emotional stuff..

  13. Mary You are right. He saved M. We were very grateful. B

  14. Sheron It was almost 30 years ago and it still bothers me but hopefully there is an easier test now I do not know. B

  15. Buttons, you have brought tears to my eyes, how dreadfully hard that must have been on all of you involved. Your beautiful'Rocky' left something for you- your daughter. I'm sure he still watches over her today. Maa

  16. Thanks for sharing the story. I am so sorry. You were very brave.

  17. well,....that just made me mad and made me cry.....

    Surely there must have been another to test for rabies.... stupid government officials anyway.....

    Your poor brave Dad....

  18. I feel so sorry for all of you :(.
    Surely there must have been a way the officials could have blood tested him as you already had him in quarantine? We don't have rabies in Australia but our bats have bat lyssa virus which is in the same family as rabies but it's uncommon for humans/animals to become infected by the bats and there are vaccinations for it.
    It sounds like he had a good life with you and he probably saved M so he was the best type of friend one could have. RIP Rocky.

  19. My eyes have tears in them as I read this! Your emotion in writing this shows just how much you love your family and animals, and will do what is best for them. Rabies is a horrible disease...I was bitten by a dog that hadn't been vaccinated when I was pregnant with our daughter. What an awful feeling. All turned out well, but still...

  20. Alica Oh my gosh that must have been so scary for you. I am glad all turned out well. B

  21. Robyn If there had of been another way I would have done it.Rocky was our hero. B

  22. BumbleVee I am still upset the way things were handled. I hope that someone else does not have to go through that. My Dad was amazing. This bothered him many, many years later, I felt guilty asking him to do it. I knew I could not have done it. B

  23. Maa Rocky did save M and I will forever love him for that. I am sure he is. B

  24. Oh goodness, as most have said, you had to do what you did and it was the correct thing to do.
    Imagine what would have happened if your pets/animals were 'positive', hate to think of the outcome of that one.
    Indeed no income for 3 months wasn't good either. At times like that there is an inner strength most of us have when we don't want to do these hard things we have to do. Inner strength shine through somehow.
    Having lived on a farm for the 1st 8 years of my married life I too know how hard it is to shoot a beloved dog. We don't have rabies where I live thank goodness.

  25. Whiteangel. It had to be done and I know you have been on a farm enough to know sometimes decisions have to be made. Thanks M. G

  26. Dear Buttons,
    An incredibly sad chain of events. Heartbreakingly sad and brave.
    It must have been very hard putting it all into words, but I hope it has helped ♥

  27. Susan Yes it was hard putting into words but I needed to tell my children the story. It does help. Thank you. B

  28. I am getting caught up on some blogs. So sorry to hear about this. I have some friends that were giving me grief because I want to re-learn how to shoot a gun when we move. I think I'll show them your post. It just seems that there should be a way to test for rabies without having to put the animal down. I'm just so sorry for your loss. I think I will go give my ornery dogs a hug.

    Bee Lady

  29. I'm so sorry. Without going into detail we had to put down a beloved barn cat, also named Rocky, because of disease. It was gutting for us and we were destroyed over the decision. I understand your pain, dear Buttons. I'm so sorry.

  30. wow, what a story! it sounds like rocky was sent to you for a glad M is okay and glad you all got to know a special dog!

    lots of lessons to be learned on a farm for us all!

  31. one of the boys had to have rabie shots not fun at all

  32. I can hardly see the screen...what a sad thing to happen. How could you know it was going to be did what you had to do. I can feel the pain in your words all these years later. Such a shame.

  33. horrific. have to admit to tears on this one.
    I grew up on a working family farm as well as living on one now. We had a cow-calf operation as well as mixed fowl, pigs and dairy we milked by hand. When I was about 10 a steer died suddenly and unexpected one spring. My father called the vet and an autopsy ensued- the results, rabies. As happened in your case all our animals were quarantined. We had no other outside income for two months and I remember my parents struggle to purchase seed that spring to do the planting ( we grew our own crops to feed our livestock) We had documentation that our dog had been vaccinated but none of my much beloved barn cats had. It broke my heart to have them suddenly " disappear", looking back I realize what a horrible task this must have been for my father to complete- but i remember taking out most of my grief on him.Funny how things in the light of adulthood appear so different.


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