In the last week, we have lost two members of our family community. Our dog, Sobaka, and our oldest hen, Red, passed away. Both had lived long, long, long past the normal lifespans of their respective species, but we still feel the losses deeply.
Humans often have the misguided idea that only humans feel emotions, and only humans have friendships. Baka, as we called him, and Red proved that wrong. Over the last nine to ten months, they spent countless hours together. When young, Baka would chase the chickens. By this spring, he was ready to just hang out with them. He’d slowly wander out to see the chickens, and he’d find a sunny spot to lie down in the grass, and Red would come over to sit with him. Baka had lost much of his hearing and sight, and Red was asthmatic and often a bit confused where she was, but they formed a deep and trusting friendship.
Last Friday, Baka was nearing the end of his life and he clearly knew it. He walked down to visit the sheep and Ellsy, then laid down next to their fence. Red came over and sat with him, the sheep laid on the other side of the fence, as if they all knew it was his time. When I walked him back up to the house so we could take him to the vet’s office, Red followed along for as long as she could.
That night, when I went to bring in the chickens, Red was clearly sad. She came to stand with me, wanting to pet her, which I did for a long, long time. She was grieving.
Monday, Red passed away. I can say it was from old age. I think it was from a broken heart. Her friend had left her, and she was ready to go join him.
I openly admit I cried a second river that afternoon. Red had been a constant part of our lives since before Sam died, and while she hadn’t laid an egg in years, she was a sweet friend. Losing two of our creatures who Sam had loved and known also hit harder than I can express. But, I can say without hesitation, that I am thankful for all that both creatures taught us.
They loved each other. They proved that emotion and friendship are not limited to humans, and I am so glad they shared themselves with us.