On Sunday morning our wonderful Diamond, mother of Olive, Heulwen and Lleu, lay down and decided she’d had enough. She didn’t look entirely happy about it, but she wasn’t uncomfortable either, and I knew that there was nothing wrong – it was simply her time to die.
One of the things I find so hard with keeping animals is knowing when to help and when to just step back. Should we call the vet? When should we call the vet? Would we be calling the vet to help Diamond or to help us? In the end I decided not to, remembering sections of Laurie Anderson’s wonderful and compassionate Heart of a Dog, and my own ethos of minimal interference, which has served us well during our time with the alpacas. So we stepped back.
She refused all food and water, and was sometimes alert, but mostly away somewhere in her mind. I would go in and out of the barn to see her, as would the other alpacas. Gwen went in once, but seemed very uncomfortable and prefered to wait for me from a distance. The point is Diamond had a mixture of peace and quiet and our attention, and it seemed to be the right thing.
On Monday evening, well over 24 hours after she lay down she lifted her head up and looked at me for the last time. I was beginning to doubt my decision, feeling this was going on for too long, but the next time I looked in, after the sun had gone down, Diamond had gone too.
We’ve moved her body to a quiet secluded place to let the scavengers and nature take their course, and meanwhile in the field, life is going on, but I can’t quite see it yet. At the moment, there is something wrong, something missing, something out of balance.
I remind myself that for an alpaca, Diamond had a great life. She arrived at Pistyll Gwyn just a couple of months after us in 2008 and she gave us our very first cria – Olive, from whom she was never separated. She was five when she came here, nineteen when she died, her life spent in one very beautiful place, with the same group of alpacas around her …
R.I.P. Diamond – classy alpaca gem.