Saturday the 19th of December 2009.

Stephan has been giving Isla her molasses and magnesium lately when he gets Imagen or Zella out of the paddock in the evening.  Last night he said he watched Isla do a wide circular walk toward him, with an odd gait and as she came closer he said he presumed she must have been recovering from another seizure.  We went together to look at her and she was still moving very oddly.  She was lifting her left front leg in an unusual manner and when she moved her right side, she swayed as if she was about to collapse.  With every right front step she tilted her head as well.  That is not right.

We watched for a while and checked again later and she was still the same.  I phoned the vet, and the after hours answering service got Greg to call me back.  He suggested we give Isla the night to see if she recovered at all and while I thought that was a sensible suggestion, if only for me to come to grips with this change, I didn't hold much hope.

I've been waiting for something like this to happen, although this is not as bad as I'd anticipated - I had thought she might go down in an endless seizure and we'd have to do something drastic.  This looks a bit like she's had a stroke.  Even if she were to recover to some extent, this process is heading in one direction only.

If we let her go on, what awfulness might we have to deal with next?  It has been my intention for some time, to try and relieve Isla of whatever distress her condition might eventually cause, by euthanasing her before it becomes an emergency measure. 

I spent a lot of time today, while waiting for Greg to come out, watching her very closely and this change in her behaviour appeared to me to be causing her some distress.  She could not control her body comfortably and I suspect she may even have been in some pain - it's hard to tell with grazing animals, their instinct being to mask pain, or risk being eaten by an opportunistic lion or equivalent predator.  She spent a little time grazing, but soon lay down again and appeared quite uncomfortable.  There is a possibility that she had actually hurt herself during a seizure yesterday, but that in itself would be an argument for ending the process for her.

After a couple of delays, Greg came out this afternoon to the paddock where the cows are grazing, and gave Isla an injection in her rump to sedate her, as Nathan did to Irene the other week.  After a few minutes she lay down and went to sleep.  We stretched her out a bit by pulling her front legs out from under her and I held her head, so Greg could easily find the jugular vein, into which he injected the anaesthetic to kill her.  She very quietly lay as her breathing slowed, her eyes clouded and eventually she was entirely still.  My beautiful cow.

There is more, but enough for now.

Virago Isla 02