By Michele Alley-Grubb, ©Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, 2006
Michael has been a Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary Icon for years now. He has
graced the home page of PeacefulPrairie.org since it’s its inception.
Visitors to the sanctuary have been greeted by him and welcomed into his
herd once he checks them out and gives them the final approval with his firm
face rub to their bodies.
Michael was a born leader, but his ability to offer his leadership to a herd was stifled, if not crushed, for all of the early years of his life. He was kept as a breeder for a goat dairy. He endured years of loneliness, near starvation, deprivation, pain, and abuse. Sadly, this is the life-story of millions of “breeder stock” used in ALL dairies. They, just like their sisters, mothers and daughters, are brutally killed as soon as their “productivity “declines at the dairy. Michael was rescued just before he would have either starved to death or been slaughtered – whichever came first. His transition to a loving home was foreign and frightening to him, at first. After a short time passed, Michael learned and accepted that he was – for the first time in his life – free, loved, and forever at peace.
Because Michael had never been allowed to walk, let alone graze in vast open pastures, at first he was hesitant to leave his recovery area. Jake, the herd leader at the time, insisted that Michael join them in their walks and even eventually turned control over to Michael as soon as Michael demonstrated his ability and aptitude at leadership.
In the past few months, we have noticed that Michael has “retired” as Top Goat. When the temperatures of summer began to rise, Michael stopped escorting the herd on their daily jaunts. We didn’t think much of it due to his age and experience – he’s a wise old man. He had opted for short morning walks then spending the rest of the day resting in the shade and having his hay and fresh water and treats brought directly to him. We gladly obliged.
A few weeks ago, he stopped getting up at all, stopped eating and drinking. He went down fast. We were devastated and rushed him to the Vet. We learned that he was in end stage renal (kidney) failure. The Vet didn’t expect him to live another day. We opted to bring him home and allow him to die with dignity in his barn rather than a cement stall at the clinic. Although he was completely non-responsive and appeared to be moments from death, we made him as comfortable as we could and sat with his head in our lap while stroking him softly as we cried and thanked him for being such an amazing and unforgettable part of our lives.
When I thought he was beginning to feel pain, I got up and prepared an injection of Banamine (a pain killer). I decided to give him a mega dose with the thought that it would either relieve some pain or hasten his departure – either way, it would have been an improvement for him at that point. After giving him the shot, we had to tend to all of the other animals who still needed to be fed, watered, and cared for. About an hour later, I glanced towards the barnyard and there was Michael gingerly walking out to the scratching post and leaning up against it for support. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I have never seen an animal recover when they were that close to death. Leave it to Michael to be the exception. Once again in his lifetime, his determination, will to live, and strength of character, compelled him to not give up. I called to Chris who was busily tending to the 200 Katrina chickens. His jaw hit the ground – we cried tears of elation and frantically scrambled to get him hay, sweet feed, and water. Michael dove into it all wagging his tail the entire time. Pumpkin, a small Boer goat, rushed over to steal some of Michael’s food. Michael gave him one swift (albeit pretty weak) head butt. It was to be known that Michael is *still* the boss and requires respect…even in his weakened state.
Michael will never regain the kidney function but, for now, he is back with us and not ready to leave us. He suffered physically and emotionally for so many years of his life before he came to PPS, that he insists on making up for as much lost time as possible. We are grateful for every day he continues to share his magnificence with all of us in this free, peaceful, and loving home.