Sietchie is a 14 month old heifer. We adopted her when she was 6 months old along with a little male calf, Clifford, who was 2 months old from a local dairy farm.
We came to see all the little calves in their nursery being bottle fed. We met Clifford and their foster mother, Issa, who takes excellent care of all these babies. She personally finds homes for all the little boys to prevent them from going to slaughter.
We started our own animal rescue in the summer of 2009 and opened a sanctuary in Upton, MA where we were leasing land for our animals. One of the animals we rescued, Marley, is a “ zebu”, a four year old steer who used to be with a Jersey cow in his old place, so we liked the idea of adopting Clifford. We went to the dairy farm to bottle feed Clifford and bond with him until he was weaned. Then Issa talked to us about a very special little girl named Sietchie. She characterized Sietchie as such a sweet girl despite the fact that she was small and still fragile, having had a pneumonia as a baby and further developing absesses on her lungs. Issa worked lovingly to heal Sietchie, but she was not fit to become a dairy cow. She was looking for a good home for her. We followed Issa to see the young heifers and when we saw the little one we noticed how beautiful and sweet she was. It was love at first sight and we made a commitment to adopt the two of them.
Issa drove to our sanctuary last October with the two calves. She drove the truck into the pasture and as soon as they were released they both started to run and frolick and we were all smiles at their delight. Next the lonely zebu walked toward them and Sietchie went to him first, noseled and licked him, it was clear she had fallen in love with Marley.
After giving Issa a tour of our sanctuary, she felt so pleased the two little ones had found a good home.
We still had to bottle feed Clifford and Sietchie for about a month so we could really bond together. They became so close to us often nudging us and licking us with their raspy tongues. Sietchie was always the sweetest and extravagant with affection. It was a match made in heaven.
After a few months at our sanctuary they both were thriving and we were like proud parents. Although, we have many wonderful animals in our place, Sietchie occupies a very special place in our hearts.
Now, in mid-may a very unfortunate accident happened to Sietchie. We did not see it happen, we only noticed something was wrong when one Sunday morning as we arrived at the sanctuary, we found her downcast, standing still against a tree, her mouth drooling. We noticed she had a large swelling undernearh her left jaw. She was obviously in pain and our hearts stopped at this sorry sight.
We immediately called our vet, but could not get a hold of her being a Sunday, so we tried two friends from a near by sanctuary and asked them if they could come and help. They rushed over. They are both very knowledgeable and administered first aid to her immediately.
When our vet came to see Sietchie, she felt pretty sure that it was “lumpy jaw”, a serious infectious bacterial disease with very poor prognosis.
We then talked to Issa about Sietchie’s accident and the different opinions we had received. She suggested that we may want to take Sietchie to the Woodstock CT campus of Tufts University as they treat a lot of farm animals there, especially cows. We thought it was a good idea as we wanted to be absolutely sure about her condition. An x-ray would give us a much better idea. We got Sietchie in our van and got to the Woodstock CT campus in one hour. As always Sietchie was very cooperative.
Shortly after being there the doctor looked at her, found a broken loose tooth which he extracted and diagnosed it as “lumpy jaw” as well. Still doubting, we insisted to have an x-ray done and at the surprise of the doctor it reaveled a broken jaw with an infection gone to the bone. The doctor opened a drain hole under her jaw and prescribed two rounds of antibiotics for one month. I had to learn how to give a cow shots and I felt quite apprehensive about it. I was never quite sure if we were doing it right which was nerve racking. Still Sietchie was always patient and so forgiving even though she was in constant pain.
While her treatment was going on, we stayed in touch daily with Issa. She has been so helpful and supportive. As for us, we have done the utmost care and support for Sietchie during this critical period. Twice daily we prepared a special diet of soft nutritious food and we put her in a shed by herself so that she would be protected. We also had to give her medicine daily and cleanse her drain hole.
It became clear that she needed our presence in order to eat. For instance, if Patrick stepped out she would stop eating until he came back. We were astounded by that. When we were both close to her, she would look at us in turn with the deepest large dark eyes so full of love and sweetness that it would make our hearts melt .We both sat quietly near her and in turn sent her love and light. It was a real communion, we could feel a tangible aura of love and peace filling up the room. We never experienced anything like this before, it was a moment of grace and a special blessing coming to us from her. We believe Sietchie is a real angel.
Feeding time became more and more special between Sietchie and us. As we sat close to her she in turn would go to one of us and drop some hay on Patrick’s lap and eat it there and start licking him at the same time. She then would take a bite of her soft food and come to me and drop some on my arm and lick my hand and arm as I held the dish up to her. She would also lick my face and hair and soon both of us would be covered with dengy and wetness from her tongue. Funny, we did not mind at all as she was showing us so much love.
The end of the prescribed shots came on May 24th and on May 26th we had a vet come with portable equipment to take new x-rays. Again Sietchie was so sweet and cooperative. The vet thought she was a real sweetheart.
However the pictures of her jaw revealed a bad outcome. The healing of the bone we had all along expected did not take place due to fragments of bones that had broken away from the jaw and were floating loose cutting out blood supply to the bone. The only way we can save Sietchie is for her to have surgery at Tufts.
First she needs to have an ultra-sound to determine the extent of the surgery. Depending on the complexcity of the procedure, we may have to spend between $2,000 and $4,000 dollars for the surgery. Without this much needed surgery, Sietchie will not survive.
We have done everything in our power so far and have already spent about $1,200 out of pocket. We simply don’t have the means to spend more that is why at this point, we are sending out a plea for donations to save Sietchie.
As she is an angel, we are quite sure you will receive many blessings for your generous donations. We will keep you updated about her progress after the surgery which should take place on July 6th. Thank you so much for your kind support!
Sietchie went to Tufts hospital in Grafton, MA, on Tuesday July 6th to have a x-ray and ultra sound. They could see it was bad but not in exact detail. She stayed at the hospital to get ready for the surgery the next day and she had to be without food or water for 18 hours. The 2 hours before the surgery she showed us the most incredible sign of love. She rubbed her head in turn against our thighs and licked us. We could feel that she needed to be reassured, it was very touching.
Upon opening her, it turned out to be the worst case scenario; she had two broken teeth that needed to be removed. She also had a huge abscess and a lot of dead tissue as well as fragments of broken bone from the jaw which resulted in the jaw not joining together and the infection being into the bone as well (Ouch…). She stayed 5 hours in surgery!
They cleaned and scraped the bone and had to insert 4 pins on each side of the jaw with rods going to the outside in order to stabilize the jaw so it can grow back together and heal. They also had to pack the holes left from the oral surgery with medicated gauze material going from inside her mouth through to the outside. The hardware and the packing have to be protected and kept clean with a protective hood she wears over her head (cute…). The packing inside her mouth will need to be changed every 3 or 4 days under sedation. Her mouth has to be flushed after she eats a diet of soft food. She will need to be kept on antibiotics and pain killers for a while.
Sietchie stayed at the hospital for 4 days and quickly became a favorite amongst the staff. She came home last Friday on July 9th. As soon as she came out of the van she trotted to the fence to greet Marley, her favorite, as well as Clifford, but she can’t stay in the same field as them, as she needs to be isolated while she is recovering.
Sietchie is not out of the woods yet. It will take another 2 months or so for the pins to be removed and we need to give her intensive care and lots of love. She depends on all of us and your good will.
It’s been 7 weeks since Sietchie’s surgery.
She is coming along on a sometimes bumpy road, as it’s been a series of ups and downs, but she always lets us know what she needs or when it’s time to change something. For instance, when she did not want the bandages wrapped around her face anymore, she kept undoing it and we would find the bandages in the grass. She had managed to rip it off while we were away. After a few times of this little game, we agreed to keep it off and she was fine after that. Then we went through the same thing concerning the hardware on both sides of her jaw. It kept on getting infected around the pins going through the jawbone and into the cheeks on both sides, so she had to go back on 2 shots of penicillin daily for 20 days. Of course because she is a ruminant and has to chew all the time, the movement of the pins in her checks is a constant irritant, plus the fact that it is hot and humid and it is fly season does not help.
So in spite of the fact that Patrick is religiously cleaning and scrubbing the two drain holes under her jaw and around the pins with iodine she got infected with maggots. We were horrified at the sight (even though our vet had mentioned that they sometimes use medical maggots to clean out infected wounds) we chose the option to get rid of them immediately by flushing them with a large high pressure syringe filled with oxygen peroxide. We repeated the procedure several times morning and night for a few days and voila!
I also wanted to mention that the relationship between Patrick and Sietchie has deepened a lot since he took over the care of cleaning and dressing her wounds and giving her the shots of penicillin twice daily. We had been shown how to restrain Sietchie to do these things by holding her head and putting a thumb and forefinger into her nostril to sort of sedate her, but she would instead become more agitated and would buck her front leg back and forth to show her discontent. She indeed felt that this situation was most undignified and humiliating. Patrick told me, “This morning I tried something new with Sietchie. I talked to her while we were in the shed and explained to her that if she cooperates with me while I did the cleaning and did not move I would not have to restrain her anymore. She was very attentive to me. Looking at me with her big wonderful eyes she seemed to understand. She always fills my heart with so much love and admiration.” Then he proceeded to gently take her head in the crook of his arm and to scrub the holes with saturated gauze and to flush with oxygen peroxide and spread the antibiotic ointment and fly repellent. Low and behold she did not move and was sweet and docile as can be. A deepening trust and a bond between the two of them are growing day by day and it is marvelous to see.
Overall she is doing well and we are getting ready for a checkup at Tuft’s University on Monday August 30th. If the jawbones are healed together then she will undergo another surgical procedure to remove all the hardware from her jaw. This will be a wonderful thing and we can’t wait as she will be a lot more free and this will allow complete healing of the drain holes.
In spite of this long haul of 3 plus months she is always wonderful and we both learned so much from her. It has been a unique and very special experience for both of us and all those involved with Sietchie during her recovery. In the meantime, she has become more and more sweet and patient as well as curious about everything. It seems she tries to understand everything we are doing. She is so attuned to our intentions toward her. She has also found a new jest for life and has become so playful and enthusiastic, she runs and trots and hops around the pasture where she now stays and mealtime is her most happy as she trots behind Patrick to get her favorite food of moist alfafa pellets mixed with grains. She stays in her shed to eat it down to the last tasty morsel.
Love and peace from Cloa’s ark Animal Sanctuary,
Claudine and Patrick
For the time being we need to clean the site twice daily and keep her face covered wit the stockinet for a couple of weeks, as well as giving her shoots of antibiotic twice daily for 10 days. During the new healing process she shares a field with our 2 ewes as they are gentle and the 3 of them get along very well. They even share the shed Patrick built for them and sleep side by side.
It’s very sweet to see them together. Sietchie will have to be kept away from the 2 steers for maybe up to 5 months in any case, as the complete closing up of the holes in her jaw will take a long time and for at least a good 2 months her jaw is still very fragile and has to be protected.
Other than that Sietchie is doing very well. She is happy to be alive and shows it. She is so lively and scampers around in the pasture as well as around us when we arrive at the sanctuary. Her joy is so apparent and contagious.
Sietchie’s relationship with Patrick is amazing as he has spent so much time caring for her. She follows him everywhere he goes while doing the chores in the morning and preparing her food. She is especially enthusiastic around meal time and she will run with him to her shed while he is carrying her dish full of moisten alfafa pellets and grain. When he leaves to go home, Sietchie follows him to the gate and she moos for him. It breaks his heart to have to go.
Sietchie is so loving and special, she steals the hearts of everyone who comes to see her. Her eyes are so big and beautiful they make your heart melt. We are very grateful that she came into our lives as she is the perfect example of unconditional love.
Sietchie had her hardware removed at Tuft’s University after the 21/2 months it took for the jawbone to heal. It was so great to see her coming back from the hospital without the external rods sticking out of her face.
She still will be needing special care for a while in order to allow the holes left in the jawbone from the pins to close up as well as the ones in her skin.
Thank you for all of your kind and loving support over these past few months!