In every slaughterhouse rescue run there is always a diamond in the rough. It never fails, each time we are there we come across goats who have succumb to the stresses of their experiences and surroundings. Experiences that can start well before they even arrive there. We never get to know their stories. We don't know whose stories include being shuffled through livestock auctions, who was purchased states away and thrown into a hauling trailer with no food or water while they traveled days to their destination or who was purchased off craigslist under the ruse of a pet home only to be sold to the slaughterhouse. All we know is that they are now on death row and in desperate need of help. There are always those whose bodies have given up. Those who have lost hope and take to standing in a dark corner letting the days painfully pass by until their number is up. On our last rescue run, that goat was Sparkle.
We found Sparkle hunched in a corner of a dark shelter area of the slaughterhouse. She was temporarily blind from an eye infection and was extremely emaciated. Upon arrival at the rescue she took a big, long drink of fresh water and although she seemed interested in food, she wouldn't eat.
We moved her to our ICU area with fellow critical patients Lucky & Duncan. We tried every kind of hay we had, grain, fresh cut browse, even picking fresh grass and offering it to her but for days, she would hardly eat. We were thrilled if she took a few bites a day. Every night she would curl up with Lucky & Duncan and the three would sleep intertwined. It was a relief to see her take comfort in their company.
Finally a few bites a day turned into steady eating. She regained her sight and would accompany Lucky & Duncan on their trips out grazing each day. To most, Sparkle would have seemed beyond hope that day at the slaughterhouse but we have seen goats come back from seemingly impossible conditions. For us, there is always hope.
Over the past few months we have watched her blossom. Although she has been a very sweet goat from the time she arrived, she now seeks out attention and affection in a way she didn't before. We did everything we could to help her understand she was now safe and cared for when she arrived but she had to learn to fully trust that in her own time. It took her time to realize that she would never be put through undue stress again. That she would never be hungry or without a fresh drink of water. That she would never be neglected again. These days, she is fully embracing her new reality. She loves to be brushed and spend one on one time with volunteers.
Lamancha does often hold the alpha role in our main herd dynamic but Sparkle is quite omega. For that reason, Sparkle had been spending a lot of time in with the pregnant does the last few months. The afternoon Bess went into labor as we waited (for hours!) for the birth to begin, Sparkle climbed onto the wooden spool I was sitting on and stood next to me for quite some time while I scratched her cheeks and gave her the attention she relishes in these days. The babies finally started arriving and in the middle of the bustle of three newborn goats I turned around to see Sparkle, about 10 feet away, sound asleep. Such a sweet girl!
The day we rescued her she had all but completely given up but we knew this sweet girl could sparkle again and now, she knows it too!