We are often at a loss for words when we lose one of the rescued animals that we have loved and cared for at the sanctuary. Easter, a black & white ruffed lemur, rescued from a closed roadside zoo over 10 years ago, had to be put down a few days ago.
We lost the battle with an infection in his lower jaw that started in the pockets that were left behind when that roadside zoo pulled his canine teeth.
A few weeks ago, our vet surgically removed the whole front of Easter’s lower jaw to get ahead of the infection. If the procedure had worked Easter would need a soft diet and help with grooming but would otherwise have a good quality of life. The surgery appeared to be a success for a few weeks but in the end the infection in the bone was too much for him to overcome.
The drive back to the vet’s office felt like the longest drive in the world, I cried as I drove him there alone. I already knew the answer and ultimately I was the one who had to make the decision. We had lost the fight.
There was no other choice, no other option. We had tried maybe harder than we should have, but we wanted to give our little old man a few more years of happiness.
The finality sunk in, the clouds rolled in and it began to rain. The tears filled my eyes and rolled down my face like the rain on the windshield.
Before we left the sanctuary I had to maintain my composure for the benefit of our interns and volunteers; and I had to regain it again before I reached the vets office. “Always the professional”…sometimes that is the hardest part.
I talked to my friend Easter, sitting in the pet taxi next to me – feeling ashamed to cry in front of him and wondering if he understood what I was saying. He looked so content; yet I knew the infection was back and would grow increasingly painful until he could no longer eat. The kindest gift we could give him is to end his suffering before it was intolerable – so why is it so hard to do?
You would think that after 14 years and caring for hundreds of animals that these decisions would become easier. They never do.
At the vets office the decision was immediately reaffirmed. I gave Easter a few pieces of soft banana – his favorite lately. Injections were given….heart beats were felt…waiting … until – nothing….Why is this so hard?! Again, I must stay collected and professional, always keeping my composure….
The rain is intermittent for the drive back – another wave of sorrow crashes down around me. I will have my ‘professional’ face back on by the time the car reaches the sanctuary.
Easter, you were a unique soul and the favorite of many of our volunteers. Missing 2/3 of your tail, part of a finger and many of your teeth as scars from your prior life, you were still always a happy character. No more hard life at a roadside attraction for you.
We will all miss watching you hang upside-down from the ceiling by your back feet and hearing your calls from the other end of the property.
I had the privilege of sharing the last 10 years of your life. You, like every animal we rescue and eventually lose, have taken part of my heart with you when you left, but I have gained something else in return.
You will never be forgotten.
Thank you to all of the hard-working interns, volunteers and supporters who have helped us to care for Easter and his friends over the years. Together we were able to give Easter an opportunity to experience sanctuary for more than half of his life.