28th June 2020
It is with very sad regret that we let our friends know that Andy has passed away. He came to us just after the Beast from the East snowstorm two and a half years ago. He had lost his flock, or they had died in the storm, and he had been wandering, alone, for weeks. Someone very kindly took him onto their land for his safety until we arrived to take him to his final home at Eden. He was very thin and traumatised. He had no idea that we were there to rescue him. Fear made him strong and when he saw Sany approaching him with his arms open to stop him escaping, he ran straight at him and broke one of Sany’s ribs. That was when he earned the nickname Rambo. But actually he was a big, gentle giant.
He integrated very well into our group of sheep at Eden. There was always something so stately about him. Whenever he would catch my eye, he’d know I had a little bit of grain stashed somewhere for him alone. Then he would come bounding across the field, silently and swiftly, like an elephant, to claim his treat.
He developed a problem in his mouth earlier this summer. Biopsy showed nothing more sinister than an infection so we accepted that he had just suffered a bad reaction to a dental abscess. But when he finished the course of antibiotics we were concerned that it was not improving substantially, although he was still grazing, back chewing and eating a lot.
Unfortunately, the results of a repeat biopsy showed squamous cell carcinoma so we knew his time with us was very limited. Andy could probably have stayed with us for a while longer because he had excellent veterinary care, he was on pain killers from the day we noticed the first signs of his problem, and he was in good form, but the risk of the cancer progressing to his lymph nodes or jaw bone and causing him to suffer, was not one we, as his guardians, wanted to take on his behalf. It was a likely risk as the tumor had started to enlarge despite the fact that his body looked so healthy and his behaviour was normal.
I will always remember his trusting face as he crossed the field to greet me, or looked out of his door at me from the safety of his sanctuary barn, always anticipating a treat and a head scratch. That is what he did just minutes before he was put to sleep. He died peacefully, with hope and happiness in his heart right up until the end. This is the essence of our work: we exist to ease their inevitable deaths as much as we exist to give them a home while their are alive.
Andy was fifteen years old. Most sheep are killed when they are a few months old. At our vegan sanctuary where we work for animal rights, and against speciesism and against the status of other animals as human property, the animals who live here get to live until the end of their natural lifespans. At the very least, they get to live with respect and veterinary care until the end of the lifespans dictated by the effects of selective breeding for human use as food and clothing which causes premature death. But everyone of us can avoid participating in their violent deaths in slaughterhouses and the unnecessary breeding of them into existence for human use by being vegan. If you read Andy’s story today, please share it with someone you know who might be moved to research the unfair use of other animals by humans and stop their individual support of it.
Photos: Agatha Kisiel