Goodbye to Two Beloved Family Members

When animals fall ill at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, we try mightily to bring them back to health. All good sanctuaries do that: “our” animals are our families. We celebrate each one’s healing, and we cherish them all. When we lose them, we lost a piece of our hearts.

Yesterday, we lost two of the most precious animals Catskill Animal Sanctuary has had the privilege to know. In the course of three hours, we lost our beloved old horse Noah and our beautiful rooster Peabody. Noah called Catskill Animal Sanctuary home for over 10 years, and Peabody the rooster likely convinced hundreds of visitors to stop eating animals as he raced to us when we called his name, fell asleep in visitors’ arms, or gently nuzzled their cheeks.

Noah arrived in 2006 crippled by flagrant and long-term neglect; it was doubtful whether he could live a pain-free life. His dramatic rescue, and his truly miraculous recovery, is told in the revised edition (the paperback) of Animal Camp. After many months of reshaping grotesquely malformed hooves and slow, careful rehabilitation, what a joy it was to take him out to a large pasture for the first time and watch as he galloped, pain-free, to the far end.

For those who knew and loved this kind and gentle old boy, I deeply regret that we shared our wishes for his healing the day before we euthanized him. Many of you probably know that Facebook posts can be scheduled: they can be written on Wednesday, for example, and scheduled to go live on Friday — this exact schedule is precisely what happened with the Noah post. I wrote it on Wednesday; it was scheduled to post on Friday.

Noah in the snowIn between those days, we watched our sweet friend fall apart. Overnight, he lost his ability to chew hay, and could no longer keep his tongue in his mouth. His gate was unsteady; when he turned in his stall, he bumped into the wall. A stroke is one possibility. During that time, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about the Facebook post I’d written on Wednesday. I was thinking about Noah. Just as we were celebrating the healing of Noah’s eye after four months of intensive treatment, we watched, crushed, as one thing after another went wrong in rapid succession. It was clear not only that his quality of life was gone, but also that, if we failed to make the decision to euthanize him, he very possibly would have died alone and suffering terribly. We chose to let him go, and he was surrounded by love — so much love!!! — as he went peacefully.

Peabody’s death was altogether unexpected. Animal caregiver Ashley found him yesterday morning struggling to breathe. Caregiver Cerri rushed him to Hurley Vet, who tried for most of the day to help him. But even having him on an oxygen machine AND “supplemental oxygen”  being delivered by a port inserted into his air sac (the vet explained that this was essentially a tracheotomy for chickens), our precious, precious Peabody was still struggling to breathe. I was there for a long time watching him. It was grim.  The vets tried their hearts out, but they simply couldn’t determine the source of his distress.

One initial plan was to rush him to Newburgh, where one of the nation’s leading bird experts has a practice, for an endoscopy. But vets at both practices felt that Peabody’s prognosis was “extremely guarded to poor,” and much more to the point, he could not have made the trip to Newburgh. He’d have suffocated en route.

PeabodyAnd so it was, that on behalf of all of us who loved him, I kissed our beautiful boy many, many times, told him that he’d been a remarkable teacher and friend, thanked him for the memories, and massaged his little neck as he went to sleep.

Yesterday was a reminder of how much our work matters, and of the importance of being a family working together toward our vision of a world free from suffering. Among our beautiful staff, I witnessed a lot of strength, a lot of heart, a lot of grace, a lot of generosity. And as so many of us surrounded Noah in his final moments, I sure did feel a lot of love. I held on to that love and took it with me as I said goodbye, from all of us, to Peabody. On a difficult day, that was one hell of a gift.

I love and honor the staff and volunteers of Catskill Animal Sanctuary — those who have the heart and mettle to do this work that is mostly joyful, always difficult, and sometimes heartbreaking. And I honor and appreciate those of you who contribute financially to make this work possible, even on the most difficult days.

How we will miss our boys.

Please, friends, share your memories.

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All Beings Considered, Saying Goodbye

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37 Comments

  1. It’s so sad when you lose those you love. Rejoice in the knowledge that they were both loved, cared for and happy.

  2. You gave that lovely old racehorse and that beautiful rooster happy lives where they were much loved. When the time came, you eased them into the next ones. What more could anyone who loves and cares for animals ask for?

  3. I’ve had to say goodbye to many pets over the years. The hardest was when we had to euthanize the 1st dog I ever bonded w/. I’ve always had cats, & wouldn’t have adopted a dog if the kids & wife didn’t want 1. & wouldn’t u know it – Mocha became “daddy’s” girl. When she had to be euthanized… it was a day that left a hole in my heart that still hasn’t healed.

    We admire & love the work u all do, & of course we sponsor. Although I wish we lived closer so I could try 2 join the CAS stuff, I know I’d have 1 major fear. No, it wouldn’t be having 2 work on cold, snowy days. It’d be having 2 experience the death of 1 of the animals. The passing of a farmed animal is sad of course, but it should also be a cause of – for lack of a better word – celebration. You & your staff take very care of these animals, & you do it when it matters the most, & when it’s the hardest: all the way to the end. A merciful & dignified death, when life can no longer be sustained is the crowning achievement of the CAS staff – a group of people that do such great work every day. When an animal dies, we all feel sad – all of us who visit CAS every year, & learn & feel so much. The fact that you do what you do, & you make sure you give these animals that dignified death while you’re all hurting… Admirable. Touching. Remarkable.

      1. U R quite welcome Kathy, but really THANK YOU & your wonderful staff 4 everything u do 4 the animals.

  4. I am so sorry for your terrible losses. It is always the most difficult but most loving decision we make for the creatures we love, to say good bye. Bless you all for your hard work.

    1. We are blessed, indeed, Ann-Marie, by these beautiful animals who offer love and lessons every single day.

  5. May God bless you and your helpers for all of the wonderful care you give the animals in your sanctuary. It is always difficult to say goodbye, but an honour to be able to love and let them hear your voice as they pass out of this world into the next big adventure of their lives on the other side.

    1. One of the greatest privileges in this life, Mary Lou. Thank you for reminding us all of this truth.

  6. At times like these, I find comfort in reminding myself that our animals don’t think “I wish I had more time on Earth” or “I’ve only lived x days.” They live in the moment, and who could ask for more in our own lives than to know you are loved, to feel you have a place in the world, and to be comforted and eased from pain surrounded in love? It’s a precious gift to be able to give this to others. You do for the residents of CAS what our hearts are so thankful to you for being who we wish to be.

  7. So sorry for your loss. Goodbye to Noah and Peabody, may you both rest in peace, and see you over the Rainbow Bridge.

  8. I am so very sorry for your loss.Find peace in knowing that CAS gave them the love and care that they so desperately needed,and you nurtured them back to health.They now have crossed over The Rainbow Bridge and are free of pain and are at PEACE. <3

  9. I am truly sorry for your losses. You did all you could. you gave Noah and Peabody a wonderful remaining life. God Bless you for caring.

  10. My heart goes out to all of you. At times like this I think it’s often difficult to balance the intense grief with knowledge of the quality of life and love you provided these wonderful creatures. We think about what they gave to us – equally important to remember our gifts to them.
    I look at your FB posting often as what you do gives me hope. Exactly that same thing (plus tons of love ) you apparently give to every critter who comes your way. Love to all of you.

    1. Thank you, Cathy. I hope you’ll have an opportunity to visit and experience what we do, how we do it, and way more importantly, to meet the beautiful beings who inspire ALL that we do.

      1. Hoping that sometime down the road I might be able to do just that. In the meantime am becoming a member and following you via FB and your emailed blogs. People like your organization keep those embers of hope burning.

  11. Kathy that video of Noah running with such joy is an image I will not forget. You and your incredible staff have changed the world for countless animals and at the same time have managed to restore hope to my heart about humanity. I love you, and I am so deeply grateful to you and all of CAS staff and volunteers. I share your pain of every heartbreaking loss.

  12. Someone recently posted a video of baby goat Violet exploring the outside world for the first time, and I was instantly smitten! And now I am learning more and more about the many stories of animals saved and loved at the Catskill Sanctuary. Noah and Peabody had amazing lives after rescue and went out as gently as possible, surrounded by loving FAMILY. Thank you for all you do! I am proud to be a new member.

    1. So very grateful, Kerry! Hope you’ll have the opportunity to visit this season (beginning 1st Sat. in April). If you do, please private message me so I can personally introduce our animal friends.

  13. We were lucky to be able to meet both of these sweet old souls on a visit to CAS. The love and kindness they showed humans is truly unbelievable after what they had been through. I’m glad they found their way to you and that they were surrounded only by love, kindness, a warm barn and all the food they needed. I feel so grateful our paths crossed while here on this earth….planning to see them again one day…..
    Frank & Joyce Lambert

  14. This is so sad. I tried so hard not to cry. Thank you to everyone at the sanctuary for being so compassionate to the animals friends that we share this earth with. My love goes out to all of you and the animals.

  15. Having met both Noah and Peabody over the years I know how special they were. Having had a number of cats, dogs, and horses over the years I also know how hard it is to let them go but know it is the greatest gift you can give them, letting them go surrounded by love.

    1. Yes, it is sad. But perhaps we can all find comfort in thinking of Noah & Peabody not as animals that were lost, but animals that were found – by a great group of people @ CAS, who gave them all the love they needed, & the best life possible. As well as a compassionate & dignified death. We really can’t ask for much more, for ourselves, or for our loved ones, whether they have 2 or 4 legs.

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