A hug from Bernard.

A goober face.

Geese. (GK, we’ll never look at them the same way again, either. ♥)

After Fergus died, I emailed our friends Stanley and Cindy at Lei Photography. Stanley and his wife Cindy last came out to visit the boys in March, just a week before Patrick’s arrival.  

My email to Stanley and Cindy explained that Fergus had died, and I asked if they had taken any pictures of him that Don and I hadn’t seen.  

Yesterday, we found out they had. And I smiled.

They had many pictures that made me smile.

Bernard’s never-ending supply of hugs…

…even for Stanley.

Bernard’s mischief.

And beautiful pictures of kissable, huggable Fergus.

Thank you, Stanley and Cindy. ♥

A couple of days before Fergus died, I started taking pictures for what I thought would be a funny post… something about breakfast, lunch and dinner, and how the Boyz thrive on routine.

Breakfast: July 13, 2011; 6:29 a.m.

Lunch: July 13; 11:51 a.m.

Dinner: July 13; 6:18 p.m.

For a couple of days, I documented each meal with a picture and noted the time. My plan was to continue for a week or so.

Breakfast: July 14; 6:09 a.m.

Lunch: July 14; 12:37 p.m.

Dinner: July 14; 5:46 p.m.

Little did I know at the time, this was the last picture I’d ever take of Fergus. You see, he was perfectly fine.

But, life goes on.

Last evening. July 20; 5:27 p.m.

It’s still very quiet here, and I continue to fight the urge to check on the Boyz every five minutes, night and day. For me, sleeping is hard… there’s a constant need to know they’re okay.

Our love for Nigel has increased a thousand fold and we’re spending as much time with him as we can.  

Because Bernard and Ellsworth often pair off, Nigel has spent a lot of time with Patrick the last few days.

It warmed my heart to see Nigel and Ellsworth playing together on Tuesday evening… and, importantly, the Boyz have been good about helping Nigel check for alligators in the water tub. To this day, Nigel will not drink from the water tub by himself. (If Fergus drank, Nigel drank. If Fergus peed, Nigel peed. If Fergus pooped, Nigel pooped. You get the idea.)  

Patrick seems the least phased by Fergus’s death. Bernard is returning to his normal goober self.

Ellsworth is taking Fergus’s death the hardest. He’s quiet and not himself. Don and Danni agree that as the herd leader, Ellsworth is very serious about keeping a watchful eye on all his “peeps.” To have one leave – suddenly and confusingly as Fergus did, is more than a little baffling to him. He’s getting extra hugs these days too.

We are still in disbelief. Waves of tears have been shed here over the last three days, and more are sure to come.

The last time we saw Fergus alive was 8:3o Thursday night when Don and I walked around the pasture with the boys before calling it a day. Our beautiful boy Fergus was perfectly fine. He was not sick.

We got up as usual on Friday morning. While Don got in the shower, I walked to the kitchen to prepare morning meals for children. I looked out the window and saw something wrong… very wrong. The boys were standing around something on the ground in the corral… what it was I couldn’t tell. I walked closer to the window and realized it was one of the boys. Initially, I thought it was Patrick, but couldn’t be sure. I ran into the bathroom and shouted, “Don, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease come outside now!!!!!!!!!!!”

I ran outside to find Fergus on the ground with his brothers standing around him braying frantically and pawing at the ground. Fergus was dead. Oh, why? Why? Why? I dropped to the ground and laid over him, sobbing. Oh my god, why? He was still warm.

Don came outside a few moments later and we tried to process what was in front of us. Disbelief. Why, why, why? Ellsworth continued to bray nonstop.

I went in to call the vet. Because we had no idea how Fergus died, we were very concerned about the other boys. At 6 am, we got Dr. D right on the phone… a godsend. Without the need for any discussion, Don and I agreed to have an autopsy performed and for Fergus to be cremated.

While we waited for Fergus to be picked up, the following events and observations occurred. We are not positive what happened in what order because we were in shock.

Don lovingly brushed Fergus. Ellsworth brayed frantically nonstop. We had to separate Bernard, Ellsworth, Nigel and Patrick from Fergus because they kept pawing and biting at him… telling Fergus to please wake up. Nigel was the last to say good-bye. He walked around Fergus twice… very slowly… smelling, looking, touching… We put a clean white sheet over Fergus. We cut hair from Fergus’s head and tail. I kissed his face as many times as I could. 

Fergus seemed to have planned everything down to the last detail. He positioned his body so that it would be in the shade of the bell tower when the sun rose in the sky.

The ground under Fergus was undisturbed. There was absolutely no sign of a struggle. Rather, Fergus looked peaceful… as if he had just dropped right there and gone to sleep.

Nigel watched with us as the man put Fergus on the trailer.  Fergus left Morning Bray Farm at 10:30 am.

Fergus’s autopsy revealed nothing obvious or conclusive. Dr. D thinks it was most likely an individual, catastrophic event… a heart attack, stroke or aneurism perhaps. He explained that the more sudden the death, the less likely we are to know why.

The boys haven’t uttered a peep since Fergus left on Friday morning. Morning Bray Farm is very, very quiet.

Annette said it perfectly on Carson’s blog Saturday: “This is the absolute hardest part about having animals. When they are old and have lived a full life it is still hard but it makes sense. When they are suddenly and unexpectedly gone when you’ve done everything right with their care… it’s impossible.”

Don and I talked about the “why” all weekend. Don thinks this has been in the plans all along. Fergus made sure that his best friend was saved from the holding pen at the BLM… and once Fergus was sure that Nigel was always going to be taken care of, he was able to let go and move on to help another.

On Friday evening, as we were standing out in the pasture with the boys, a V of geese flew over Morning Bray Farm. The first in months. We’re sure it was a sign from Fergus, the goose herder… herding geese over us to let us know he was alright.

My god, Fergus. We miss you so much. We will always, always love you. We promise to take care of Nigel. Promise. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And yes, my love, we’re smiling because you happened.

Thank you all for your condolences. We can’t possibly begin to tell you how much your support has meant to us… it has helped to keep us somewhat sane. Sending love from all of us to all of you.