6th June 2013
June 6th – A life in the balance
A knock at the door and a call for help, as a young sheep has been found abandoned roadside. Freshly shorn, critically underweight and unable to stand is Herbie. With the will to live slipping slowly from his eyes it will be round the clock care as we try our darndest to let Herbie know that life indeed is worth living. Whilst we do not know how he came to be in such a dire state we wonder how it can be that animals just like Herbie so often slip under the ethical radar of human care and compassion. But for now Herbie is one lucky sheep, as we know that you, like we are willing him on.
June 7th – Herbie – motoring on
With regular monitoring throughout the night we are pleased to relay that Herbie’s critical condition has improved somewhat. With hypothermia clasping firm every inch of Herbie’s being and dragging his temperature to an alarmingly low sub 37 degrees, the race was on to dig deep into our bag of tricks and pull him through. There can be no doubt that the recent shearing to which Herbie had been subjected was a significant contributor to his current grim state. To put some perspective on this, imagine going from sitting in front of a nice comfy warm fire to being turfed outside, stripped naked and exposed to the severe cold front that was experienced across much of the state yesterday. Recently shorn sheep experience a 3 fold increase in heat loss with hypothermia claiming the lives of many sheep in mobs even up to four weeks after shearing. But Herbie’s woes were not limited to the loss of his golden fleece as severe malnutrition and starvation had left him a literal bag of bones – a natural explanation for many of the nasty shearing wounds inflicted on his crinkly Merino skin.
But dear Herbie did rally. With pain relief, antibiotics, shock remedy, colloidal silver, several lotions and potions administered only one final ingredient was needed to complete our arsenal of recovery. And this ingredient was one which we delivered with all the gusto we could manage at such a late hour –our love and kindness. Even Rhett the stable cat chipped in, sitting patiently by Herbie’s side throughout the night willing him on. While Herbie is still unable to stand he is eating and drinking unaided and his bodily functions are still working, but it is too soon to tell to what, if any extent organ damage has occurred. We thank you, our dear supporters and friends for keeping Herbie and his recovery close in your thoughts and prayers, there can be no doubt that the power of positive thought can only add to the collective good of all. Only time will tell which path Herbie chooses to tread.
Herbie – standing tall
It brings a tear to the eye to imagine that just over 24 hours ago dear little Herbie lay helplessly alone, too weak to move and too frail to fend off the cold, the Grim Reaper nipping at his heals. It could never be claimed that the farmer didn’t know of Herbie’s pitiful condition given his recently shorn state, and so it is hard to credit that nothing was done to assist him or treat his wounds. Yet seeing the worst of our humanity brings out the best, in the kind hearted soul who determined Herbie would not die alone. And while Herbie’s body may have taken a break his spirited hadn’t. Heeding his inherent will to live and the good wishes of many, Herbie, aided by the Lady in the Hat stood today. Albeit on wonky legs he tenaciously moved, and heaving a heavy sigh he relieved himself, casting a kindly eye to the Lady in the Hat, as if to say, ‘thanks buddy, the feels better’. Physiotherapy helping to restore blood flow to his weakened limbs and sweet hay nourishing his shrunken stomach, it will still be days before Herbie regains enough strength to stand on his own. But when he does you can be sure there will be a sweet faced little ewe waiting to reassure him that ‘these really are the good guys’.
June 9th – Herbie – Code Red
Herbie’s progress has surprisingly been coming along well, while not quite in literal leaps and bounds, the little man is indeed rallying. Weighing in at around 25kgs, a mere fraction the weight of a healthy wether of the same age and given the terrible weather conditions in which he was found, it is indeed a miracle Herbie can still even stamp this mortal coil. But this morning we had a setback. Having gotten Herbie to his feet, and him countering with his usual grateful sigh of relief as he toilets himself (God love the little man as he doesn’t wish to soil himself)it was with a heavy heart I witnessed the reoccurrence of his tremors. A dash to the medicine cabinet saw on my return a prone and almost lifeless Herbie amongst the straw. ‘No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For now, some hours have passed and it seems our worst fears have been allayed. Herbie is now standing, albeit with my help, and he has even taken a few steps outside to drink in the sun’s ray and the love that permeates here at Edgar’s Mission. Again we thank one and all for their well wishes for Herbie. Never again will he be unseen.
Herbie – Code Red Continues
A midnight dash to the vet saw Herbie placed on an intravenous drip as his condition quickly began to deteriorate. Waiting patiently, Herbie cradled in my arms, as life sustaining medications pumped through his veins and all our good wishes into his heart, the wait is now on. As is often the case after a glucose drip Herbie showed a marked improvement and began to eat on his only but sadly this was short lived. Our fears are heightened, as in the absence of seeing Herbie’s buddies we do not really know if we are battling more than a starvation/malnutrition case for there could well be a more sinister cause that has led to Herbie’s skeletal form beyond poor animal husbandry.
With so many thoughts running through our sleep deprived heads at the minute our overarching question is why? Why is it that our society treats animals not on their ability to suffer but rather the shape they come in, our familiarity with them, our use of them?
June 10th – Choose Life
Those two words are something I have desperately been pleading to Herbie over the last 24 hours, ‘Choose life, buddy, choose life.’ I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I have been more soul destroyingly tired or heart wrenchingly grief stricken. Watching Herbie’s grasp on life slip throughout the night is really taking its toll; while outwardly I am holding up, inwardly I am crumbling. Herbie didn’t get to his emaciated state overnight and no one can claim they didn’t know. I can well imagine the shearer as he hurriedly jostled Herbie to his feet, blood dripping from his shearing wounds as the stumbling Herbie was slapped on the rear end and pushed on. Sleep has not been my friend for the last 24 hours as I lie on the floor next to my buddy in the make shift hospital wing that was once my bathroom, urging him to, ‘Choose life.’ Denying my inner turmoil, I told Herbie of all the things I wanted him to experience – of wheetbix treats, of running free across fields with happy sheep who hold no fear of man, of a life devoid of hunger, of never having to fear being stripped of his fleece and sent to face the bitter elements of winter, of meeting a sweet faced little ewe who too could tell a tale of incredible recovery in the face of adversity. But most of all, I want Herbie to experience the joy of just being a sheep and being loved for who he is. Not only valued for what he can produce.
A this point in time, the future is not looking good for Herbie as I prepare to take him on what could well be his last trip to the vet. Somehow in my incredibly sleep compromised state I have gained a newfound clarity of why we are here on this planet and that is to learn the importance of choosing life and to understand the concept of true selflessness. Every day of our lives, we seal the fate of animals like Herbie; animals we will never meet except for those who make their way to our plates. There is no doubt that if Herbie was ever given the choice, he would have chosen life, a life worth living, and certainly not the one he has been given. While I may be tired, sleep and I will soon be reunited, but what has happened to Herbie can never be undone. If the concept of selflessness and a little loss of sleep in some small way makes the life of the Herbies of this world a little more bearable and somewhat rights the wrongs I may have imposed on his brethren, then I am up for the challenge. If you believe in a superior being, if you believe that a more compassionate, nonviolent world is possible or even if you believe we can do better, choose life at every opportunity. For your sake and for Herbie’s.
If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?
Herbie – Death is Not the Worst Part…
For those of us in the animal protection movement, sadly we know all too well that death is not the worst option for an animal but that suffering is. The freshly shorn Herbie arrived in our care late last Thursday evening in a horrifically emaciated condition and it was quickly realised that we needed to act fast to ease the pain the poor fellow was enduring whilst we battled to arrest the cause of his ails. Despite most encouraging early signs, Herbie began to teeter; rallying then slipping, rallying then slipping and only moments ago, with considered discussion with our veterinary team, it was determined that Herbie could fight no longer and we did the most merciful thing we could- we let him go. His time here on earth done, having taken the plight of Australian sheep around the globe, Herbie, a lone sheep who would have otherwise slipped silently from this world with nobody any the wiser, has touched the hearts and changed the minds of countless people and he has strengthened our resolve to tell his story. That Herbie was seen and spared from a more grisly fate we are grateful, he left this world having known love, warmth and the gentle touch of kindness. However, for an animal so often viewed as merely a ‘production unit’ far too often they remain unseen and their death is a lonely one.
In the same way that Herbie’s story has struck a chord with thousands around the globe, his effect upon us here at Edgar’s Mission has been profound and no one has felt this more than The Lady in the Hat. Herbie deserved so much more than the treatment he received during his time on this earth and despite it being our own kind who allowed him to suffer such a state, he remained uncomplaining, dignified, noble, kind and, most heartbreaking of all, he trusted us until the very end. And while Herbie is no longer with us, it is our hope that his story will speak for the thousands of his kind who remain invisible in our world and at the mercy of those who will never meet them. Rest In Peace Herbie, I will never forget you my lovely.
“Many have forgotten this truth, but you must not forget it. You remain responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery, writer, poet, and aviator