Enzo's Final Chapter
Feb 10, 2017
We thought we had the full story in parts 1, 2, and 3 but there's one more chapter in this little bull's tale. This is the final chapter in the now four part series, Calf in Crisis.
Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Tuesday was something of a hellish day at work. I thought I might have time to go by and see Enzo after I got off, since I didn’t get up there on Monday, but it was almost an hour later than normal closing before we all finally got out of there. I knew that the techs would be busy with their evening routine, so rather than bother them, I figured I’d just be picking Enzo and momma Joy up in the morning anyway, so I headed home in the misty rain.
That afternoon, Becca, the 4th year who took Sarah’s place when she rotated over to the sheep service, called. Luckily, I was actually near my phone and took the call. She reported that there was a tiny setback, nothing to be terribly worried about. He’d developed a case of scours, basically, calf diarrhea, not uncommon, and quite treatable. No big deal, they’d be sending me home with a box full of medications anyway, they’d just add one more to the bunch. He would be isolated from the other calves anyway, so we’d just deal with it, no problem.
10:30 Tuesday evening, Dr. Baker got a call from the on duty tech that Enzo was much worse. She called me, but for some reason, my phone didn’t ring. It was plugged in, charging, but it had always rang before like that. I don’t know why it didn’t that night.
An hour later, she called again; again, either it rang and I didn’t hear it, or it once again didn’t ring. Enzo was critically ill. He’d gone down, hard, and couldn’t get up. She went in to the hospital, and tried to get him up.
He just fell over.
At 6 the next morning, I saw that I had 7 missed calls and 4 voice mails. I was listening to the last of them, the one that Dr. Baker left at 3 am, when she called. I could tell this was the call she didn’t want to make, just by her voice.
“It’s over. He’s done fighting. We need your permission to let him go.”
I was devastated. I started crying so hard I couldn’t talk to Dr. Baker.
I finally got myself under some semblance of control, enough to listen to what she had to say. None of it was good. Everything seemed to happen at once. The scours turned nasty and bloody, with necrotic clumps of tissue starting to show up in the stool. His electrolytes were wildly out of balance, and nothing they tried seemed to get them under control. He was losing twice as much fluid as they could give him, his glucose dropped into the toilet, he was cold and unresponsive to anything and everything.
He was done. He had fought all that he could, and it was time to go home. I told Dr. Baker to let him go. She said some stuff, I’m pretty sure. I think I mumbled some stuff, and hung up. Hubby stood next to me, bent over the kitchen sink, while I bawled like a two year old in a fine, expensive restaurant, and rubbed my back.
After god knows how long, I stood up. There were animals that needed to be fed, the hens needed to be let out. There were flood warnings to heed, and we needed to go get Joy before the roads were under water.
So I got out the bowls, fired up the oven, and baked another batch of cookies. It’s what I do.
We went up to retrieve Joy. The mood was somber, and the staff members at the front desk had tears in their eyes. Cheerful Becca, always with a smile, always happy, but now with tears in her eyes as well, came out to take us to where Joy was. There was Enzo’s little pen, dark and empty and, somehow, cold and lifeless now. Joy was lying down. Becca said they’d laid his little body in her pen with her for awhile. She licked and licked and mooed at it, then lay down next to it. When they went in to retrieve him, she was subdued but still mooed at them as they laid him on the cart. When they started down the hall to the necropsy room, she started bellowing, then went back to a low, sad sounding mooing. Hubby opened up the trailer doors, we opened Joy’s stall door, and she ambled out and into the trailer.
I handed over the cookies to a surprised Becca, who now had tears running down her cheeks. So did Dr. Baker. We talked for awhile, then hubby came back in to remind me we had a momma cow in the trailer who really wanted to be on the road, plus even though the heavy rain hadn’t yet started, it was on the way and we needed to be as well. Everyone hugged me one last time, and we were off.
Joy was glad to get home. She immediately tried to steal the Little Princess, Ruffie’s 5 day old daughter. Have to see how that works itself out.
Ranching isn’t a glamourous lifestyle choice. You either want to do it because it’s in your blood, or you try to do it and the first time you get dirty or something like this happens, you quit. There’s no shame either way. Just like living in the Pacific Northwest; some are made to do so, and others are not. I could never live in a city or the desert, and that’s okay, because plenty of fine people can.
I’ve said it before, and it bears saying again. The entire staff, students, everyone at the Oregon State University Large Animal Hospital deserve every bit of credit for going above and beyond in their attempts to save Enzo. He never would have survived 1 day, let alone 9 days, as critical as he was when he arrived. It’s no one’s fault he didn’t make it; it wasn’t for lack of knowledge or care. They did everything they could, but in the end, it wasn’t enough, and that is just the way it happens sometimes.
Where there is life, there is always death. And death holds to no timetable.
We would like to thank everyone who sent their best wishes for Enzo our way, and for our AgWeb readers for their kind comments.
Gambol in green pastures, wherever you are, Enzo. You were loved. You are missed. We will go on.