A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

June 7, 2009

A Small Dog, A Big Loss

Filed under: alpaca, Family, General — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:01 am


Our Dear Boy Toby In Full Coat

Our Dear Boy Toby In Full Coat

As with many farms our animal family is not just limited to alpacas, we have our horses, our barn cats, our house cat “Six Toes” (yes he really does have six toes on each paw) and then there are our dogs.

Dogs have been one of my loves for as long as I can remember, from our first family dog “Simba” through to our current dog family, our dogs have always made an important contribution to our lives.

On Friday night I had the sad task of saying goodbye to our darling Pomeranian Toby.  About two years ago Toby had developed acute hemolytic anemia following his annual vaccinations.  It seemed that something was not right with the vaccine as other pets seen and vaccinated by our small animal vet at the time also developed problems.  For a while it was touch and go with Toby as his body turned on itself destroying his red blood cells.  But Toby was a fighter and won that battle.  During his many blood tests (we started off with three a week and gradually worked down to one a week over a long period of time) Toby won the hearts of the staff at the vet’s office.  Whenever I had to go to the vets for something not related to Toby the office staff asked about him and some times I would take Toby with me so that they could spoil him for a few moments.

Friday morning Toby was pretty much as normal, his usual boundless energy was present as he strutted through the house wondering why on earth I had not got his dog food ready for him yet.  Throughout the day little seemed different with Toby, he even took the opportunity to escape onto our growing new back lawn when Ric went through the gate to mow it.  In true Toby style he “christened” the lawn before Ric could catch up to him.

By the time I fed Toby in the evening I knew something was wrong, he wouldn’t eat and was panting more than usual.  As the evening continued I realized that I was spending my last hours with my dearest companion.  I made him as comfortable as possible, talked to him, told him how much he was loved and stroked him.  As time went by he seemed more relaxed, so much so that it was hard to notice his final breath.

Toby was a small dog in physical stature, but a big dog in more ways than one.  He charmed everyone he met and had a generous heart, he was full of boundless energy often whirling in circles until it made you dizzy to watch him and he was permanently happy.  It was hard to have a miserable moment when Toby was around; for from the moment he entered the room he brought with him a happy, upbeat energy.

When my dear friend Linda came to visit us following the death of her husband Dick, Toby with his never ending happiness helped to put a smile on her face again.  When Ric was still in the Air Force and deployed for long periods of time Toby was always there with me, keeping me happy giving me a purpose each day – for Toby just knew that my purpose was to make sure his food bowl was filled, his need for affection was met, and that the door to the back yard was opened and shut as often as he required it to be.

Toby - the year we decided to clip of his coat.  What a cutie!

Toby - the year we decided to clip of his coat. What a cutie!

I believe I first met Toby when he was a puppy in a local pet store.  There on my lunch hour I was charmed by the black bundle of fur that demanded my attention from inside his pen on the floor.  I played with him in the pet store for as long as I could and then had to return to work.  We had our Golden Retriever Katy at that time and I wasn’t sure that Ric was too keen on getting another dog, but that little black puppy in the pet store stuck in my memory.  Several months later when Ric asked if I would like a Pomeranian I was more than willing to go and visit the prospective pup.   Toby’s owners at that time were in the Air Force; unable to keep Toby they had asked at work if anyone would like to take him.  Ric knowing he was soon to deploy to Korea for a year was worried that our aging Katy would pass away while he was gone and thought that by getting Toby I would still have a companion if something happened to Katy.

We decided to take Toby and on talking to his owners I discovered that they had purchased him from the same pet store that I had visited at about the time I had seen the black Pomeranian puppy there.  Can I say for certain it was Toby – no, but I suspect it was and that fate always meant to bring us together.

We had at least 14 good years with Toby, years of fun and laughter, years of devotion and friendship.  When our dog Sandie passed away last May Toby became even more determined to be by my side night and day.  He hated me to leave him and I sometime had to battle with him to keep him in the house as I left.  Toby was always waiting for right inside the front door when I came home.

There is a huge void now in our hearts, its hard to lose your constant companion, but we have to console ourselves with the knowledge that we were lucky enough to share our lives with one special little dog with a huge personality.  For me I was fortunate enough to have those last few hours with him, a chance to say goodbye that others don’t often have.  Toby and I had been together through good times and bad, happy and sad and we were together when he took his final breath.

We have buried Toby next to Sandie, as quirky as Sandie was Toby still adored her and I feel he felt her loss when she died.  As Toby passed on I imagined Sandie standing in front of him, her tail slowly wagging, her legs in a wide stance and a twinkle in her eye as she prepared to invite him to play as she used to when she was alive and Toby jumping up to join her, a little bundle of Pomeranian Power as he departed this world to be reunited with his dear friend.

Toby was a special dog and a good dog, who will be greatly missed by his “Toby Fan Club” and especially by his number 1 fan – me.


January 1, 2008

Happy New Year From Clovis, New Mexico!

Here we are at the start of a New Year, to some New Year’s Day is just another day but to me it is an exciting time to start anew, setting new goals and heading forward to enjoy another year of life.

The year 2007 was a year that brought both sadness and joy.  The loss of our dear friend Dick Pottinger was particularly hard, as was watching Dick’s wife, my best friend Linda, suffer the tragedy of the loss of her husband.  Linda has been amazing during this past year, it is a difficult process adjusting to life without ones soul mate but Linda has gone forward with her usual tenacity and determination and while she misses Dick terribly she has also made sure that her life remains full and meaningful.

I am fortunate enough to have two best friends and my friend Val also unfortunately had a challenging year.   The timing of things in our lives can be an interesting concept, and while both Val and Linda were experiencing the sadness life can bring, they also discovered the warmth, support and happiness of a deepening friendship.

My father’s deteriorating health and admission to a nursing home and my mother’s ongoing battle with Social Services about funding my father’s healthcare was another low point in 2007.  It is sad to realize that it doesn’t matter how hard you work during life or how diligent you are in supporting your country and doing things the right way, at the end of the day modern governments have little or no consideration for your efforts with the exception of appreciating the assets that they now claim to be theirs.  On the bright side of that situation though is the way my mother has turned into a whirlwind of activity and action as she coped with what must be one of the hardest times of her life.  She may be in her 80’s but I think she can still run circles around many who are a fraction of her age.

But along with sadness often comes joy and what could be more joyful than going to a beautiful wedding of two special people.  Laura and Ren had a wonderful wedding in England, and while Ric and I had somewhat separate travel plans in order to get us both there and the alpaca herd safely cared for, we did both make it to the wedding and even had a whole seven days vacation together!

Now we excitedly look forward to the birth of Laura and Ren’s first child and our first grandchild, in just under 90 days we will be grandparents!  Joyous news that we learned in 2007 and that will carry us forward into 2008.

Then of course there were our animal happenings.  The arrival of the first cria from our herdsires Zindel, Tobiano and Moonie, the continuing outstanding show record of the cria from our herdsire Prince Regent, the arrival of dog number four Tripster, the survival of our dear elderly cat Six Toes whose heart is showing signs of wear but who still has a great life and one of the loudest purrs, and the survival of our Pomeranian Toby despite a serious vaccine reaction.  Along the way we met wonderful people and gained new friends, at alpaca shows, through animal rescue organizations, through our day to day business and also through this blog.  For all of you who have posted comments through the past year I sincerely thank you and look forward to your input as 2008 continues.

In a time when economies world wide are somewhat shaky and when wars are being fought and lives lost, those of us who live in safety, with little threat to our lives, a roof over our heads and food on our table have a lot to be thankful for.  I am sure there will be some “wobbly” spots in 2008, but I am also sure that there will be a lot of happy times along the way, that’s just the way life is.

Happy New Year to you all, may 2008 bring you good health, happiness and prosperity.


November 30, 2007

Content Critters

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Health, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:26 am

Carina, Carrisima and Zeus enjoy the round bale As I looked around the farm yesterday it was good to see everyone looking content and happy.  One group of boys had been let out in the back pasture for the day and was busy exploring and rolling; the other boys had full hayracks and were happily chomping on the hay.  The girls too had their hay ration, although some had already finished their initial attack on the hay and were contentedly chewing their cud while sitting in the sunshine.  The day wasn’t the warmest but for an alpaca in full fleece it was a nice temperature and great weather to be enjoyed. 

In the horse pasture our two horses Savannah and Saber were taking their daily constitutional, strolling around and looking for extra to eat.  With our drought conditions there isn’t much for them to graze on, we feed them hay morning and night and their weight is good, but their instincts tell them they should be out in the pasture looking for whatever goodies they can find to eat. 

Back at the house, Tripster and Missy the two outside dogs were stretched out side by side in the exact same position, worn out from their morning walk and with full stomachs from their morning feed.  Sandie one of the two inside dogs was enjoying her time out in her own special yard (Sandie does not play well with others, except Toby and so has to have her own yard to exercise in).   All of our dogs are rescues and it is good to see them enjoying the lives that most likely would have been ended had they remained on the streets or in the local animal control center. 

Inside the house Six Toes our six toed Manx cat was going along with his usual routine of finding a patch of sunlight to curl up in for a nap, while Snuggler, our barn cat who was attacked by a dog and who now stays inside the house for most of the day, was curled up on top of Six Toes.  Six Toes is not too thrilled with Snuggler’s love of being so close, but Snuggler is a persistent little cat and will not take no for an answer. 

Then of course there was Toby, still gradually making progress from his recent illness.  He has now gone from having to be syringe fed to eating on his own and at his last vet check had gained 0.2 lbs.  Toby’s recovery will be a slow one, but day-by-day he gets a little stronger.  Today we have to take him in again for blood work to see what progress has been made.  His blood tests have been run every 3-4 days and show good improvement although he still is not producing enough red blood cells, fingers crossed that will change soon. 

It’s a good feeling to have such contented critters around us, when I walk into an alpaca pasture and have to walk around the alpacas that are cushed, rather than have them jump out of my way, I know that they are happy, secure and content in their environment.  That contentment and relaxed attitude goes a long way to securing their good health. 

What a great life our critters have, they cannot speak as we do but in their own way they tell us that they appreciate life and all we do for them – and in return they provide the same great life and contentment to us too. 


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