Roll on, little friend

TW: Loss of a pet


We are more than just our imperfect bodies. Your heart and courage are what you’ll ultimately be remembered for. If you have those two things, you have everything. —Sweet Sebastian

Here’s What’s Happening At Good Spirits Farm

It’s remarkable how a week so full of promise can shift so quickly to one full of grief. On Sunday, Sebby’s wheelchair arrived. I rushed to put it together, so excited to offer him mobility, the one thing he wanted more than anything else in this world.

We got him in it and let him take a few steps. It turns out those heartwarming videos where the dog goes from zero to 60 in their new chair are not quite accurate. Sebby, because he had never walked, was going to need some time to figure out how to balance and move the chair. We did a few 5-minute sessions, and by Sunday night he was already starting to be able to roll on his own.

On Monday, we kept at it, putting him in the cart for a few minutes at a time. He was really getting the hang of things, and I could tell he was going to be zooming in no time.

But by Monday afternoon, something seemed off with Sebby. I couldn’t get him to settle down in the grass. I chalked it up to him being frustrated at being taken out of his cart when he was just getting a taste of freedom. A few hours later, though, something was very clearly wrong. He seemed to be losing control of his neck muscles, and his whole little body was vibrating. I held him and tried to quiet him, but things just got worse and worse until he had a very intense seizure in my arms.

I held him for another hour after the seizure passed, as if my touch could somehow heal whatever was happening in his little body. We offered him a bottle and he drank so zestfully I thought for sure he was feeling better, and tomorrow we could take him to the vet for a once-over. After his bottle, he fell into the deepest sleep I’d ever seen, his little body snoring away. We made a bed for him out of a mess of towels, and put him and Juliet to bed.

Because I got a miracle this spring when I went to bed thinking tiny, newborn Juliet would be dead a few hours later, and then she wasn’t, I assumed the same thing would happen with sweet Sebby. I hoped he’d sleep it off and emerge ready to boogie the next morning. Alas: I got my one miracle for the year already. When I went out to check on the lambs at 2 a.m., Sebby was curled tight in the bed we’d tucked him into, but his body was cold.

We buried Sebastian under the most beautiful shortleaf pine on our property. The tree overlooks our house, the garden, and the barn. He’ll get to watch as we go about our work each day. Juliet attended the burial with us, sitting quietly in the grass as we filled in the hole.

Sheep are herd animals, and I feel terrible that Juliet is all alone. Eventually, we’ll introduce her to our flock, but she’s much smaller than the other babies, and much less mobile due to her contracted tendons. For now, we are her flock, and we’ve been letting her hang with us every moment of every day. I think we’re doing this to ease our grief as much as we’re doing it to ease hers.

While Sebastian’s life was so very short, I’m so grateful we had our few weeks together. I don’t regret my decision to give him a chance. I believe all creatures deserve to live their best lives, even if those lives are short. I don’t know that Sebastian truly got that, his frustration at not being able to walk was so palpable. However: he did get four weeks of intense love—from me, Chris, my parents, and his beloved Juliet. And a life full of love is all any of us can really ever hope for.

Here’s What I Loved This Week

The comfort of Juliet. Grief’s burden is so much lighter when it’s shared with someone (or some lamb) you love. We’re all getting by thanks to the comfort of having each other.

Finally: I know many of you donated hoping there would be a second cart in Sebby’s future. Obviously, we will not be needing a second cart. If you would like me to redirect what you donated to The Gentle Barn, a rescue for farm animals, or if you would like me to return your donation, please send me an email at AC.Shilton@gmail.com. I am more than happy to do either! Thank you all for caring so much about sweet Sebby.