Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Understanding Solo

For so long I thought my blog was getting so depressing with so many deaths at the DSC and my need to write about them, it felt so sad and dark all the time, that's when I decided not to write about them as they happen, well that is not entirely true,  I just couldn't write about them anymore,  more like I just really couldn't deal with them anymore on an emotional level, it was getting too much to handle, we had lost at that point four donkeys within a time span of less than three weeks. Then one day I landed on a blog called "God's little people", it tells the stories and plight of cats in Greece and the efforts by people to do small things to make their lives better, through feeding programs, neutering and spaying programs etc. Every time I went to that blog, the writer so beautifully and with love and compassion wrote yet about another cat being put to rest, being sick and fighting for it's life and it usually left me in tears, but it made me think that without people like her these cats would not have a name, just be another dead body on the side of the road in a society that treats it's animals with far less care than they ever deserve. I totally adore that blog and yes it leaves me sad and crying most of the time, it also makes me very happy to know that someone cared enough to do something and it so enforces one of my favourite quotes " You can't do everything, but you can do something" and that's when I thought about our donkeys dying, their stories, and  their death is such a part of our life and the kind of work we are doing. And they deserved and need to be honoured and remembered. Sometimes we know what is in store for us and sometimes it doesn't come to light until it's too late and those are for me the hardest ones because we didn't understand how and why until we do a necropsy. So this blog is dedicated to a wonderful donkey, named SOLO. One very misunderstood donkey, that unbeknownst to everybody had suffered for so very long and only through the necropsy we understood why Solo was Solo and really wasn't so Solo after all. Makes you wish in hindsight that you would have enough money to do an absolute thorough physical examination of all animals when they arrive, including full body scans, MRIs and everything.
Solo was born in Quebec and his mother died while giving birth to him, so right from the start Solo was bottle fed by his caretaker and consequently bonded with the caretaker. Animals that identify themselves as another species than what they actually are, always have social and behaviour problems, because they don't learn what it is to be that kind of animal, and Solo was no exception. At the age of five he was so hard to handle that the caretaker was looking into places that could take him on and help him and so Solo landed at the DSC. A lot of Solo's behaviour was based on fear and he took a while to being comfortable around people, that was until he met Kyle, the former donkey boy. Solo have found his buddy for life, he would stand in front of the trailer every day to wait for Kyle to come to work, Kyle would take him for walks and spent a lot of time with Solo. I have never seen a greater love between an animal and a person than those two. It was amazing to watch those two play with each other and hug each other.Kyle left shortly after I started but came to visit Solo a few times.
When I started to volunteer I was always a little bit scared of Solo, I always called him my stalker, because even though he didn't like me, he much more preferred males over females, he was always right behind me, sometimes without me even knowing, I would clean up at one end of the property and see him at the other end and the next time I turned around he was right behind me. I remember me just walking past him, and I always made a big circle around him, he still would kick out at me. One day I was walking down to the barn after hours, and he stood by the front gate and as soon as I walked in he was on my heal, the faster I went the faster he walked. One good thing however was that he was very obedient and once I turned around and stretched my arms out and told him to stop, he stopped, until I started walking again.  So I always had a very healthy respect for Solo, and even though he was not the most social donkey, there was something about him that made him one of my favourites and after many months of being stalked by him, we spent some social time together. Solo didn't like his head touched, or his ears scratched, but he was fond of belly rubs and that's how I got to him and how he accepted me as not being so bad after all. :) Over the years at the DSC, Solo was never really well, he preferred to be alone and away from the other donkeys, he had many skin problems and over the last year had developed some serious problems, but he always seemed to be coming around and he actually started to look great again, his fur was great looking, his was a little bit stiff at time due to his arthritis and was a pain medication for that. I remember the last Sunday I spent with Solo we had a nice chase around the East Side and some nose to nose kisses, I would have never done that with the old Solo, but being painfree he had become a different donkey. A few days later Solo was dead.  The necropsy showed that he had two spots where his spinal column was narrow - one at the base of his skull, and the other at his withers - which pinched the spinal cord. The narrowing was most likely genetic, and something he lived with his entire life. The veterinarians believe this would explain many things about Solo's distinct character, such as the way he didn't want his head, ears, or withers scratched; the loopy way he would walk on occasion; why he so rarely lay down or rolled; why he was often 'grumpy' and would kick seemingly without reason; and other quirks unique to Solo. It also explains why, in recent months, he became more social: he was on maintenance doses of pain medication and anti-inflammatory for other ailments, but this medication also would have helped relieve pain and pressure from the sensitive areas of the spinal cord. He was feeling better.  It was only a matter of time, as Solo aged and became more and more arthritic, that he would tweak the spinal cord to the point he lost control of his body. The tweaking of the spinal cord was in the end  to be believed to be the cause of his death, when they couldn't get Solo back up on his feet.
Solo has won the hearts of many and he is definitely a donkey I will never forget and with whom I shared many fond memories. R. I. P. Solo.


Sharon said...

Good-bye, Solo. I hope you are well and strong in donkey heaven.

I agree, the donkeys should have a complete physical when they enter the sanctuary.

Sorry you lost your "stalker" :(

Tina said...

That would be great in the perfect world, but money wise certainly not feasible. :( thanks for your kind words Sharon!

Joan said...

Solo certainly captured my heart. It's so hard to envision the Sanctury without him.