One Last Kiss for Franklin

FranklinAll I wanted to do was give him one last kiss. But I couldn’t.

Franklin was in pain and the only way to manage that pain until I could return to say goodbye would have been to give him a heavy narcotic. That is NOT how we manage end of life care at Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

Franklin weighed four pounds and was only a few weeks old when he arrived in the winter of 2006. He likely would have had his skull bashed in by the pork producers he was rescued from simply because he was the runt of his litter. He would have grown too slowly to be profitable for them. Better to crush his skull, or let him languish in a pile of dying babies. That is the industry’s way. But luckily for Franklin, a kind neighbor intervened, and brought him to us in a shoebox lined with hay.

Franklin as a piglet and as an adult.
Franklin through the years: as a baby when we first met him and the adult he grew into.

I will never forget the first moment I held Franklin in my arms. How tiny he was! Just the size of a large sweet potato. How he hated being held. And how desperately he wanted to nurse. With his cool snout, he poked and prodded every inch of every human who allowed him to do so. If he just kept prodding, surely he would find a nipple that would feed him as his mom had, all too briefly. Instead of his mom’s milk, though, Franklin drank from a bottle every few hours, around-the-clock. And he slept in bed — my bed – for those first weeks. Both my partner David and my dog Murphy should have been canonized for their patience during those sleepless nights when little Franklin rooted and snuggled and poked and pushed with his hooves. Though tiny, they still hurt like hell. David and I showed off the tiny bruises, loved our little man, and were grateful when a few trusted friends took him for sleepovers. Murphy would sigh but came to love his new brother.

Franklin was not the easiest pig to love. He was moody, high-strung, and bit more than a few of us when he was cranky. But love is love, and Franklin had my heart from the moment we met, through his summer at “animal camp” (documented in my book of the same title,) and into his old age. Suffering from cancer, he still uttered his soft, high-pitched “I love you” sound whenever I lay down next to him.

We managed Franklin’s symptoms effectively for two full years. But when his appetite diminished and his trips outside to enjoy the sun became the exception rather than the rule, we suspected it was time to let him go. “Dr. Dave,” a wonderful vet from Hurley Veterinary Hospital, confirmed what we knew. Franklin was in pain.

Kathy and FranklinAll I wanted was to kiss that wet snout one more time. But I was away, and an animal’s last moments can never be about us. To allow him to suffer for a full day until I could return to say goodbye would have flown in the face of all that we believe. Summoning the courage to say goodbye to those we love mightily when their quality of life is gone is our final act of love. So, in a quiet moment, our farm manager tiptoed in and whispered my last, private words to him. Franklin died peacefully, enveloped in love. That is how we do it.



Herd Around The Barn, Saying Goodbye


36 replies on “One Last Kiss for Franklin”

  1. Kathy, tears of gratitude for the life you gave to this special creature. Although separated by miles at the time of the event, you were present in his heart – this I know for sure. Thank you so much for sharing your goodbye to such a wonderful soul. May blessings, love and light surround you and your wonderful sanctuary.

    1. RIP, Franklin,I remember put sitting him and taking him outside for grass ane exercise…

  2. We are so sorry for your loss and send our condolences to all who loved Franklin. We followed his adventures in Animal Camp and laughed at the call “Franklin! Tucker! Breakfast Time!” We were so glad to meet him in real life and enjoyed petting him while his little pink portrait graced the door to the pig barn. Franklin was one of a kind and such a beautiful soul – thank you for letting us share your journey with him.

    Sending you many good thoughts as you grieve and hope that the many memories of joy and love bring you solace.

    1. Thank you, lovely friends.

      Did you guys see the VIDEO of “breakfast time?”

      So cute…

      And yes, wonderful memories, most of them HILARIOUS, are bringing great solace. Hope to see you on your next visit. Love, Kathy

  3. He knew he was loved and even though he was in pain he was at peace. Bless all who cared for him. I met him this past summer.

  4. Thankful,his suffering is over. He had a lifetime of love, so knew a good life. So he was grumpy, I know a ton of people who are, often for good reason. And you certainly do not turn your back on them . You all are the best to our animal creatures. Thank you.

    1. No thanks needed, Gayle. It is our privilege to do this work. And Franklin wasn’t ONLY cranky–he was loving, deeply affectionate, and a drama queen of the highest order!!

  5. To Kathy, Staff & Visitors of CAS:
    What a beautiful “love” story. This is why I am so proud to be a
    member of this loving Family.” R.I.P. Franklin for you were truly
    loved and brought so much to everyone who met you.

    1. Nancy–

      Thank you, Nancy. Sending love to you from all of us at CAS.

      (And are you related to the LOVELY Julie WUNDERLICH Squires?)

  6. When I read the softness of your loving comments crossed my ipad, I thought how wonderful that there are loving people like you In the world, I am glad you took such wonderful care of Franklin. It took me back to Charlottes Web. Oh how I cried in that movie, and I was an adult at that time.

    1. Thank you, Jane.

      By the way: Charlotte’s Web is still in print, and it is a WONDERFUL book!

  7. Thank you Kathy for your message and the kind words about Franklin. Kristen and I got to see Franklin recently in May when we were there. RIP Franklin.

    1. Glad you got to meet him, John. He mellowed in his old age–as a youngster, he was a CHARACTER. I used to call him “my little imp.” Please come again–though I miss Franklin terribly, there are many other pigs in need of the best we can give them — and that includes, of course, LOVE.

  8. Rest in peace Franklin. I know you will carry that wonderful light of love from this world to the next.

  9. It was meeting Franklin eye-to-eye in summer 2013 that inspired my husband to instantly give up bacon and all pork products to this day … thank you Franklin for showing us yourself and in so doing helping save countless of your brethren.

  10. There was no better mom for Franklin than you, Kathy, My heart is with you and all of Franklin’s friends at CAS.

  11. I’m sitting here wiping my eyes, in awe of all that all of u do @ CAS. Visitors share the happy moments, but the staff have to go through these difficult decisions & situations… I love all that u do, & my wife & I r grateful that we can be sponsors.

  12. We visited and worked at the sanctuary a few years ago. We cleaned Franklin’s barn and he wasn’t happy to move while we did so. He finally got up and went outside to lay in the sun. When we had barely finished spreading some sweet fresh straw in the barn here came Franklin talking to us the whole way and looked at us as if to say thank you…..Bless you sweet Franklin…you were lucky to live your life out with kind and gentle people…..we will see you again one day…..Frank & Joyce

    1. He was SUCH a talkative pig, Joyce. And had he come in a few seconds earlier, when you were actually shaking out his bedding, he’d have helped. One of his very favorite things to do was to take a whole section of straw and shake it vigorously to help make his bed. He and I loved this game!

  13. I was there in those first crazy days of Franklin. Though my memories differ from Katy’s, one can never forget his hysteria and joy and noise and noise and noise. Every pig should have a life as good as his was. No less. J

    1. Jan–

      YES!!! He ALWAYS had something to say…and often he said it with hysteria. Thanks for the reminder!!

  14. Franklin, you will always be in my memories. Thanks for sharing and educating me on who Franklin really was…

    1. Like most of our animal friends, Franklin taught all of us who were willing to pay attention. The lessons abound!

  15. Oh, such sad news. I will never forget Franklin barreling across the field to reach Kathy, when she called. Such a special friend to the world’s best caregiver. He will be missed.

    1. Yes, indeed, sweet Phyllis — hauling ASS to come see Mama. Sure do miss that boy. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us.

  16. I must confess I just burst into tears when I learned that Franklin had died. My mother and I did not get to meet Franklin on our first visit in October, but having just read the wonderful story about him and his two friends in “Animal Camp we were so looking forward to meeting him in December when we will be staying at CAS. What an amazing pig and what amazing folks at CAS for all you did for Franklin and for all the animals so desperately in need. Even not having met him he seemed bigger than life through your story. Thank you and our condolences to all of you at CAS.

    1. Jacqueline and Joan–

      Franklin WAS larger than life — a sensitive and HILARIOUS drama queen whom I miss every day. While he will not be here to welcome you, plenty of others will…and there will be one or two who steal your heart. I promise.

  17. Thanks for saving Franklin and giving him a happy life! I remember when he first arrived. I didn’t make it over to see him right away, but I have a photo of him as a piglet on my bulletin board at work. His story captured our imaginations. When I finally met him, he was huge!

  18. U said it Kathy: “Love is love.” It’s that simple. & u get 2 understand it even more if u visit CAS, & have the chance 2 bond w/ the animals. Yes, it’s not just cats & dogs – farm animals are affectionate, & form bonds & friendships too!

  19. Well Kathy, I have never met you or been to your wonderful farm, however now that I have read many posts about you I will surely be there . I too know the wonderful gift to the heart when rescuing a precious animal. I have 4 miniature horses that were so bad I brought them home to die and that was ok because they would die with Love and Dignity and not have any fear. To my surprise the boys lived then the little totally blind one lived then the crippled little baby lived. We give thanks dy bringing them to places to make people smile, it’s our way of saying Thank You . It’s just amazing what Love can do.

  20. I have followed Franklin’s story online, in the videos, in your book, and extend my heartfelt sympathy on his passing. I rescue pigs in Rhode Island. I have a particular fondness for the big pigs like Franklin. My Paige, who was about 800 lbs, crossed the Bridge the day before Thanksgiving. I will always be grateful for having the honor of saving her and her daughter but will miss her forever. The big pigs like Franklin are a special lot. One can find the secret to life by looking deep into their eyes. Thank you for all you do.

  21. ” So, in a quiet moment, our farm manager tiptoed in and ***whispered my last, private words to him.”*** (why does this not surprise me?! Oh, my gosh, Kathy!)

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