The herd had run up to the barn and I really didn’t think anything about it. But I noticed that one of the girls was very tense and on high alert. She ran back to the back pasture and the rest of the herd followed. I thought, hmmm, kinda weird but perhaps a neighbor’s cat was on the fence line causing a stir.
As I walked through the kitchen, I looked out and saw our girl staggering and bouncing off the alley fences, obviously in severe neurological distress. I called to my husband at the end of the house and he went running outside, as did our daughter and I.
By the time we got to her, our girl was down and having a violent seizure. She appeared to be blind or have limited vision as she was fearful of her shadow and attacking the ground with her head. The seizure lasted over five minutes and we were helpless trying to understand what was happening. Within moments, we were on the phone with the vet who instructed us to keep her as calm as possible and time the seizures.
As soon as she would get calm, she was hit with another wave of seizures – seemingly lasting longer than the previous one. We helped her get on her side and her body immediately took on the “death pose” with her neck that alpaca owners are familiar with.
On and off the phone again with the vet, who was over two hours away and trying to get some local help on a Sunday was an obstacle that just made the situation worse. She repeated a quiet episode with another violent thrust of seizures and then tightly drew her legs up to her body and then she was gone. It was within a blink of an eye, and we couldn’t believe she had died. The entire episode lasted about 30 minutes and we were all in dismay that we lost her.
Losing her and her cria made for a very tough day. Overcome with feelings of helplessness, questions of what if’s, what could we have done differently, etc. will not bring her back. But we have faith that the necropsy will give us some vital information that may help another alpaca rancher out.
Having livestock means having dead stock. Every rancher knows that, but it certainly won’t dilute the sorrow we are feeling. We pray that her death was not a painful one . And we will miss our sweet girl, we’ll see you on the rainbow bridge.