At our previous sanctuary site, Samantha reigned supreme over this hill. I called it Sheep Hill. Really, it was Samantha’s Hill. She would sit on the hill, and watch the world. It did not matter if the other sheep kept her company - she was a ewe unto herself, preferring solitude to the stereotypical sheep flock.
The only times I remember her coming down were to ram me (or someone else) in the butt while shoveling manure. She really did make head-butting an art form. At well over 200 lbs, being rammed by Samantha was not fun.
As she aged, she started to socialize more with the small, but growing flock. She would come down from her hill and graze alongside her flockmates.
When we moved to our current 600-acre sanctuary in 2010, Samantha began to change and mellow. She stopped being so interested in rude ramming and more interested in demanding attention. On tours, she would stride straight up to every single person and plant her butt right in front of them.
If you were not up to her standards of scratching (she preferred deep tissue massage, no light stuff), she’d move on to the next person. If everyone failed her, she’d sidle up to me to show the proper Samantha Grooming Method.
Samantha is a reminder that we can all make changes, we can make different choices. She was once a solitary sheep who appreciated what some of us might consider a lonely hill. She became a social sheep who loved the attention of people, the antics of lambs, and the time spent bellowing her opinions in the fields.
This week, Samantha - age 12 - passed away.
We will all miss Sam. I will miss Angry Sam of eight years ago, and Friendly Sam of four days ago. I will miss watching her wait impatiently in line for a grooming session by her favorite sheep-brushing volunteer, Sue. I will miss hearing animal caregivers opine on the walkie-talkies that Sam has once again decided not to go in the barn at night.
I will miss that solitary sheep on the hill.
Marji Beach, Education Manager
Nervous and sad, I watched Sebastian. He lay, unable to get up and walk, on shavings at UC Davis. His kidneys had failed him and were irreparably damaged. Unbeknownst to us, cancer weaved malignantly inside him.
True to his personality, despite the discomfort, Sebastian chewed his cud. Nothing could stop him from enjoying food.
A decision was made. The kind of heartbreaking choice we make for others in the hopes, unfair and desperate as they are, that we will be alleviating ceaseless suffering.
Three of us had made the 1.5 hour drive from Grass Valley to be with Sebastian in his final moments. We surrounded him with our bodies and love.
Sebastian exhaled softly, never to inhale again. He passed swiftly and peacefully. Just as quickly, everything that made him him was gone, including the heat of his body, the blood stilling and cooling in minutes.