We lost Gloucester this past weekend. None of the animals we love and use live very long at best. For goats, 12 years is a good life. For llamas, 15 years is all you can expect. Some animals will live longer than that but the average lifespan is just that - the average lifespan. Dogs and cats have similar life spans. It's always hard to say goodbye.
With goats we always worry about parasites. They can knock a healthy animal to its knees pretty quickly. That's one of the reasons we watch our animals as closely as we do. In this case it was something much more unusual. Lung cancer.
I noticed Gloucester on Sunday morning when he walked through the gate for morning feeding. He was walking slow and wasn't much interested in eating. He plopped himself down in the sun while all the other goats raced around and made sure all the feed bins really were empty. I kept him in the barn when I let the others back out into the pasture. His temperature was 96.3 degrees. Not good. That is very cold for a goat who's normal temperature is more like 101 to 102 degrees. I knew it couldn't be parasites since his fecal just last week was negative. The next logical possibility was pneumonia.
We bundled Gloucester up with a blanket on a bed of hay in the tack room. It's the only place in the barn that is warm. Sunday morning was our first really chilly morning is quite a while. He basically didn't move once he lay down. He was gone by the time my wonderful vet, Dr. Michael Ridlen, could get out here just after lunch.
Gloucester was just shy of his 7th birthday. The necropsy showed Gloucester's lungs were full of tumors. There was nothing we could have done to save him even if we had caught this days or weeks earlier.