Saturday, August 18, 2012

What's the buzz, tell me what's a-happenin'...

Lots of fiber stuff has happened, and I will post about it eventually. For now, I'm posting what is at the forefront of my mind.

On Thursday morning, Kai (last year's bucket baby) was down and wouldn't get up in the morning. I fretted, but had to go to clinic. When I came back, he was in the same damn place, but with liberal applications of COB, I was able to bribe him over to the water tank and some hay.

Friday morning, Kai was down again. I called the vet, who said he'd be there around noon. As I continued my morning chores, I saw that Snort was laying next to the stock tank, and as he'd been kinda stand-offish lately, I went to go say hello to him. What I saw was alarming. He was down and had strands of snot hanging from his nose. When I encouraged him to get up, he went to get a drink but was clearly unable to do so. He would put his mouth in the tank and just blow bubbles, then make strange contortions with his mouth as if he were in a great deal of pain from it. It was absolutely heart breaking to watch. I offered him COB and he ignored it. Considering this is the yak we nicknamed "Cookie Monster", the fact that he was ignoring treats was very bad. I called the vet back and said we had a two-fer. I described Snort's symptoms and he said the dreaded R word...rabies. At that point I pretty much lost it. I texted a good friend of mine (hereby known as Miss Supportive) from school, who came to stay with me so I wouldn't just fly apart. The hours before the vet arrived were interminable, but helped greatly by having company. The last four months since Daven had to move back to DC have been very hard, with a lot of horrible crap happening that I couldn't do anything about, but I think this was just about the worst thing that has happened thus far.

When Miss Supportive got out, I was able to jolly Kai back into standing up again, at which point he ate and drank a little. The vet was not able to arrive until after 1430, at which point I'd just about gone numb from being overwhelmed. In a day full of memorable moments (some good, most bad), one that stands out was when the vet (who I am just going to call Dr. Awesome) was there and we were first discussing Snort. He was doing his "I can't drink, but I desperately want to" routine, and though my day was filled with tears, I hate crying in front of someone I don't know...well, I was trying to hold it together, but some tears escaped and I had to look away from Snort before I totally lost it. At that point I looked at Dr. Awesome and his face was wet. It meant so much to me that he was not numb to the pain of those around him. So many people build up a thick boundary to insulate themselves from what is going around them; I really appreciate that he was still moved.

The vet and I discussed how to treat Snort, and Dr. Awesome crawled into the pasture to see if he could try the straightforward approach. Snort did not appreciate it and charged him. After that, Snort seemed tuckered out, and laid down, at which point Dr. Awesome snuck around behind Snort and whilst I made soothing noises and held onto one of Snort's horns, a temp was taken and stethoscope was utilized. Snort had no rumen noises, which is a very bad thing. Dr. Awesome decided that since I didn't have a chute, we'd need to transport Snort to the vet school hospital down at CSU. I made noises about not having a trailer, and he said not to worry about it, he had some ideas.

At that point, we went to check on Kai. He was much more reactive to the temp check (funny how rectal thermometers can make critters RUN RAPIDLY AWAY from them) and bolted whilst Dr. Awesome held onto Kai's tail. Kai got a couple of shots, one of painkillers and one of steroids and it was declared we'd watch his symptoms and treat him as we find out more about Snort. Another excellent moment was when Dr. Awesome was trying to find out the basal temp for a yak and was sure Google would help him. I said that I doubted Google knew, because Google doesn't know a damn thing about yaks. He mentioned Wikipedia and I said though there is an excellent photograph of a man riding a yak, there were no temps there. Eventually, after some very amusing phone calls, it was decided that the yaks were probably running fevers, but he wasn't sure. And then, thankfully, we remembered Squeaky. You know, the house yak? Yeah, he stayed Squeaky (Sir Maximilian Squeakulous the Mighty, thankyouverymuch), and he's a bouncing big 2 month old who was able to be checked over (yup, he's healthy) and also got to experience the joy of a temperature taking. He was at 102'ish, so the two with temps over 103 were declared to indeed have fevers.

And lo, Dr. Awesome did have to bolt off to his next appointment, promising to return with transportation for Snort. Miss Supportive and I had time to eat a teeny amount of leftovers and a pudding pop before he got back with the woman who had been his next appointment. I'm going to call her Ms. Incredible.  Ms. Incredible was already in the pasture and had backed up to Snort by the time that someone honked to let us know they were there. Loading Snort took a bit of doing, but eventually we got him in. (Interesting fact: it had been almost a year since I last set foot in the pasture due to the whole teenage bulls being crazy thing. That morning after finding Snort, I'd captured Grunt and Kate in the small paddock so we didn't have to worry about Grunt being aggressive.) Ms. Incredible was totally fearless, and it wasn't until later, when we were down in town that we found out why a bull yak didn't intimidate her: she raises Texas Longhorns. As she put it "Snort's horns are only a yearling's to me!" She was frustrated that he didn't respond to a whip at all, but then I brought out the Stick of Conversation that Daven had used to get Snort's attention, and that got him moving into the trailer. So, off Ms. Incredible went with Snort, and I got to transport a lovely fresh stool sample.  Miss Supportive and I drove off down to town, with both of us making phone calls to update various people of what was going on.

Arriving at the hospital was a little confusing, and there was much driving around wondering where the people who were supposed to be meeting us were. Eventually the truck and trailer were correctly positioned and the swarm of vets and vet students started tentatively poking at Snort. Snort had laid down and was not having it with moving. They tried to get him out of the trailer by rocking him and eventually using a cattle prod, but that just pissed him off, which isn't the best idea ever. They got a blood sample and the lead vet seemed ready to try and send us home, which I protested against. They seemed honestly afraid of Snort, and if you are afraid of an animal, it bloody well knows it and will use that against you. After more shenanigans, including when they declared that they were going to tie his head to his leg so he couldn't get up, which of course made him get right up and swing his head at them, much to their consternation, I finally said that no, we were absolutely not leaving with him, he needed medical support and there wouldn't be a damn thing I could do for him at home. Throughout all of this, I was very rattled and Ms. Incredible was a fantastic advocate for me. She was pretty sure it wasn't rabies, as she'd been a wildlife officer for years and was used to being around rabid critters. Finally, they decided they would sedate him and roll him out of the trailer once he was passed out. I got the "sedation might kill him" conversation a couple of times (that's OK, I was rambling about everything to anyone who would stand near me at that point; I was barely holding it together at all, which was not helped by the fact that I'd had a bowl of granola, about a cup of leftover HuHot Express and a pudding pop to eat all day, and it was after 1800 by this point.) but I approved said sedation so they'd get him the hell out of that trailer. So, they gave him what they thought was enough to knock him out. Nope. It was just enough to get him to stand up and walk his own damn self out of the trailer. I made a point to give him skritches and tell him what a good boy he was before they led him out and started working on him. At the point where they tipped him onto his side to start examining him more closely, I decided I didn't want to see any more and Miss Supportive and I went to get some damn food, finally. Pancakes happened. They were glorious and filled with blueberries.

I'd forgotten my phone in the car whilst we had dinner, and returned to a couple of voice mails. I called the on-call vet back and she briefed me on what was going on...basically, she spent 10 minutes couching things in the most technical terms possible to say that he seemed to be in respiratory distress and they had NFI what was happening. She promised to call back in the morning with an update. Miss Supportive and I went back to my house, watched The 13th Warrior (which is basically like comfort food for my mind to me) and crashed out at midnight.

This morning at 0800,  Ms. Incredible called to find out what was going on. I didn't have much of an update for her, but promised to call her back when I knew more. She made a point to say that I needed to let her know when she was going to pick Snort up from the school so she could take him home for me. Seriously. I didn't know this woman at all and she was absolutely one of the most gracious, kindest and most giving people I can imagine, doing all of this for a stranger. I am truly touched by the people who came and supported me through this, thus why they get funny nicknames that really reinforce how fantastic they were for me when I really needed that support.

The on-call vet called at 0900 to let me know that Snort had some water overnight, but hadn't touched his food. She said they were going to see about doing a rumen transfusion after they had put some more fluids into his system. I told Miss Supportive of what was going on and said I was fine, so she headed home. I got another call at 1000. I knew this was bad. That was too fast.

I was right. After they'd introduced more fluids, it had rehydrated his system and he started passing blood. He grew weaker until he gave up and stopped fighting and died. I wasn't sure if I had any more tears, but I found them. I called Daven and then my folks and told them what was going on. Then I ran away to Wyoming to take part in a Yarn Crawl in hopes it would take my mind off of things. When asked how I was enjoying it today, my response was "It is somewhat distracting", which was not what the person asking the question expected to hear. I had enough time after Cheyenne and Laramie to head back and finish off the two shops in Fort Collins I hadn't yet hit, and then returned to Your Daily Fiber, where I'd started my crawl last Saturday when I took an art yarns spinning class. (I told you I have fiber updates. I'll get around to them soonish.) These are the folks who inspired us to get yaks 2 years ago, and who I often go and commiserate with about yak follies. I needed to talk to someone who had these critters and could somewhat understand what I was going through. I bought what the shop owner jokingly refers to as my "comfort yarn" and headed home.

Kai is spotty in his recovery. He grazes, but he lays down a lot. He seems to be breathing very heavily at times. I hope he recovers.

There will be a necropsy on Snort tomorrow and hopefully we will learn more (such as if this is something I need to worry about with the rest of my herd or not) soon.

I'm just so sad. I miss my Cookie Monster yak. The herd looks so blasted monochromatic, as he was the only royal we had (aside from wee Squeakster). *sigh* Now I wait and see what tomorrow brings.