a friend emailed me today to express condolences on ellie's loss and asked what caused her to pass away.
honestly? the law of physics.
yorkshire pigs are not bred to live past 153 days..they are meat animals and go to slaughter as babies.
i read on the internet that their actual lifespan is 6-10 years. if they are not breeding sows they don't make it past infancy and breeding sows don't live much past a few years anyway, their lives are just too horribly hard.
ellie was about 90 days old when she arrived here. by the time she reached that magical 153rd day..she was walking across our fields on her knees. her little feet were already hurting her. the vets told me she was poorly bred with less than stellar foot conformation. they said she would probably not last out her first year.
ok..they were wrong, she lived another 9 years.
so where does the law of physics come in?
imagine 745 pounds of weight carried by 4 tiny size 2 feet. i weigh a quarter of that and my feet are 5 times the size. huge pig bodies held up by four tiny points is a stupid design.
so ellie has always had trouble with her feet and arthritis set in early. too much weight on her delicate feet.
we started managing her with glucosamine when she was still a baby. by the time she was 4 she was intermittently on quatrisol, by 6 she was on bantamine, by 8 she was on previcox and her pain was no longer intermittent..it was daily (the previcox cost was $130 per week!) this year we added tramadol to her previcox and started upping the dose.
and we managed her pain..never completely but as best as we could so at least she still enjoyed living. until last week.
the pain meds weren't working, by the weekend she was waving her swollen left foot at me to tell me how much it hurt. the vets came out to do xrays and we found the beginnings of osteomylitis (infection and disintergration of the bones) in both of her front feet.
our darling girl had crossed the line from sore into agony.
and here is the thing..i knew this day was coming..she was almost 10 and her arthritis was progressing. i have lived in fear since we lost wilbur of having to put ellie down. wilburs euthanization did not go all that well. we have euthanized the pot belly's with very few issues, but these big farm pigs are another story altogether. and so i was living in fear.
this was how ellie's death went.
the vets came out to take xrays and she needed to be sedated which meant she needed an injection which most pigs, esp. big pigs hate. pissing off a big pig is not a great idea...800 pounds of trouble can whip around your way pretty damn quick. you can't restrain them, they are far too strong for mere humans.
in any case i did not want ellie upset so rodeo sedation was not an option.
instead i bought her an entire lemon cream cake with whip cream and strawberries. while she dived into that, the vet gave her the shot and she never felt a thing.
after she finished her cake, she laid down to sleep.
the vets took her xrays while she snored away, she was unaware of anything. but sadly we found her feet were falling apart.
there was no way i was going to let her wake up to unremitting agony every time she took a step. there was no way i was going to let her wake up so we could say good bye and risk a slightly later less than peaceful death.
she died ever so gently, a whole cake to herself and a comfortable nap were her last hours here. no more pain...not one iota of fear. just a gentle peaceful passing...not the upsetting one that i feared.
ellie had a good life here, she also had a good death. instead of her 153 days...she lived surrounded by love and kindness for almost 3650.
she had a full and happy life...sweet, gentle and so much missed, our special girl.