153 days

Posted: May 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm

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.

17 Comments on "153 days"

  • Cathy says

    Thank you for the explanation. I was wondering about all of it but was afraid to ask.

  • Kevin says

    I was hoping someone gave her a big sugary cake. Sugar and naps were her 2 favourite things (besides the odd belly rub). Being at saints with a cake and a nap, what more could Ellie have asked for. Thank you to everyone for taking such good care of her while I am off

  • Brenda says

    I appreciate the time and emotion it took to write this down Carol…..thank you…..I really had no grasp of all that was involved in maintaining Ellie’s quality of life…….

  • Barb Hodges says

    Thank you for sharing her story.

  • Emma B says

    I remembered this morning that I came out to Saints for the first time on the day that Ellie Mae arrived. Saints was new to both of us. you were waiting for the vet to come and there was a freak 20 min snow storm. I met a pig and also slid down stave lake road sideways to get down to the highway. Both new experiences for me!

  • Marianne says

    What a beautiful life and what a beautiful way to go. We should all be so lucky when our time comes to drift off with visions of cake and strawberries dancing in our heads, and a wisp of whipped cream remaining on our lips. As the wonderful Farmer Hoggett said at the end of “Babe”, “That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do”.

  • roff says

    Thanks Carol.

  • Laura says

    Thanks for sharing……

  • Fiona says

    Thanks for the explanation Carol, I too was wondering what happened but I did assume this was the cause. She will be missed and what a nice peaceful way to go.

  • Val says

    Thank you for sharing… I know it’s really hard to spill your feelings to multiple people, but we appreciate it very much! Ellie was a very sweet girl, but you did the right thing by helping her move on into Piggy heaven.

  • Marylynn says

    Good job,Carol. Thanks for sharing.You gave Ellie the best gift! Bless you!

  • Lenore Henry says

    Thank you for sharing Ellie Mae’s history with us. Over the past few years I have been involved with Saints, I wish I had spent a little more time with her. I know she touched you very much Carol and so many others who cared for her. Thank you for your kind heart, from the beginning of her arrival to the very end, and spoiling her with a lemon cream cake – you truly have a heart of gold which each and every animal at Saints undoubtedly knows……

  • Debbi says

    Thank you for caring for Ellie and being a huge part of her everyday life. You let her be a pig and made sure she was as comfortable as possible. Saints is an amazing organization And thank you for sharing the peaceful passing of Ellie Mae, she was one awesome sow!

  • Catherine Barroll says

    Dear Carol, I never met you of Ellie Me, but I sent you 500.00 after I won the Puppy Pool a couple of years back.Thank you for giving this lovely girl a happy life surrounded by love. She is so fortunate in finding you. No creature can ask for more than she had with you . Thank you.

  • Carol A. says

    I remember reading so many of your blogs with little bits about Ellie. I know you had a special loving relationship with her, Carol and i know she will be missed.

  • Deb says

    Your bravery and kindness shows in your willingness to show your vulnerability to strangers and friends alike, Carol. Your friendship with the Pink Princess was really more like a love story for the ages. How many people do you think shifted their beliefs or adjusted their mindsets about how intelligent, funny and Diva-like “farm pigs” really are. I am truly sorry for the hurt the SAINTS family, both human and other species, has suffered with Ellie’s passing, but you, Carol, loved this unique and magical being right until the end. A good death is a gift. Shalom.

  • You do great work, and you made an excellent decision.

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