Friday, August 13, 2010

Woodrow's Last Day at HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary

Saturday, August 31st was a pretty typical day on the ranch, until 5:30 in the afternoon rolled around. Something was up!

It was feeding time and Woodrow wasn't standing in the chow line. I recall not feeling "too" alarmed because a couple of hours earlier, I caught a glimpse of him wandering through the barnyard on his way to the water trough for his 3:30pm drink, something he did everyday, just like clock work. He was right on time and nothing about his demeanor triggered concern. Jim hopped on the tractor and headed down the gravel road toward the front gate while myself, Summer, HartSong's caretaker, Aiden, her 5 year old son and Paul, the foreman, searched the pastures and ravines. About 10 minutes later, Jim delivered the horrible news that Woodrow was dead, found lying on his right side near one of the many large out-croppings of blackberry bushes that follow the canal. We were all in disbelief until we actually saw him. It was true. Woodrow was gone.

Many have speculated as to "what" caused Woodrow to die. In that there wasn't a mark on him, some type of attack by a mountain lion or a bear was ruled out of the equation. We are all aware that lions and bears live in the area, but we've never sighted one within the gates of HartSong. Woodrow wasn't wet either, indicating that he did not encounter some kind of life threatening struggle in the canal. Some say he could have been bitten by a rattlesnake, but when I stop to consider the size and brawn of Woodrow, I think it highly unlikely a rattler would have brought him down. Some think he might have ingested something poisonous, but what? No hazardous chemicals are left lying about and no poisonous plants or vegetation grows on the sanctuary grounds. I remember learning in nursing school that often times, in humans and animals alike, if there's one challenging condition, like Woodrow's blindness, there's the chance of another, un-detected and lurking beneath. Perhaps Woodrow had a heart condition. Perhaps he had a stroke. The truth of the matter is, we'll never know exactly what happened to Woodrow. Somehow, I wish I could know what caused him to fall.

We buried him that night up on Old Horse Hill. His famous pink, 36 C Cup Bra hangs permanently on the big, metal gate that opens into the barn. We will continue to speak of Woodrow...his life, his challenges and his accomplishments during our tours, ensuring that "his message" lives on. He taught us many things and by far the most important of all was that he himself, his spirit, his playfulness and his intelligence reinforced the revelation that all farm animals...cows, pigs, chickens, goats and sheep, are highly sensitive, feeling, emotional creatures, all deserving of respect and compassionate consideration while on this earth, even a little, blind, lost baby cow named Woodrow. Everyone that met Woodrow or came to know his story, got his message, loud and clear. Job well done, Woodrow. Rest in peace.

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