Mont Blanc…A sad story of a little life lost…

It was hard not to fall in love with this face.

I don’t know how I became so attached to the little guy, alpaca Mont Blanc, born January 10th, nine days before we arrived in New Plymouth. 

Perhaps, it began during the harrowing few hours we spent trying to figure out how to get him back into the paddock when his tiny body easily maneuvered under the wire fence of the paddock next to our house leaving him separated from his mom, Giselle.

They both cried the sorrowful alpaca hum over and over again, afraid and frustrated by their separation, while we stood by helpless to figure out what to do.  We wrote about this event in this post using this photo below.

Mont Blanc’s mom Giselle, standing at the fence (left) was very worried that he’d escaped the fence to the paddocks. The other alpacas looked on, worried as well.

Finally, we called Trish to report the incident. In a short period, she and Neil arrived to gently pick him up and place him back over the fence to reunite with his worried mom and the other equally worried alpacas who cried along with them. 

We’d have lifted him over the fence, but at the time, so new to the farm, we were uncertain as to how to do so safely to avoid hurting him or us with his razor-like hooves. Watching him and his mom reunite was heartwarming. For days, if not weeks, he remained close at her side as shown in this photo below.

We took this photo within a few hours of Mont Blanc and his mom Giselle being reunited. He seldom left her side, although at times he attempted to play with the other crias.

At this point, I was hooked, and with his greenish collar and name tag, I began watching him each day; his gentle demeanor and more than anything… the way he looked into my eyes with his pale blue eyes. His little pink mouth and nose combined with his blue eyes made him easy to spot.

On rare occasions, he’d play with the other cria for short periods. They often ran with vigor through the paddock in the early evenings as the heat of the sun waned but he was unable to keep up.

Mont Blanc would wander off by himself when he wasn’t napping or hugging close to his mom.

When the cria joined together in a pile to rest in the sun, often in the dirt patch outside our sliding door, he’d easily participate in “nap time.” It was during these periods and many others that I could spend hours watching him. 

He was different from the others, not only with his lash-hidden blue eyes, an anomaly in alpacas, but in the way he hung close to his mom and seldom munched on the grass as the other cria had begun after their first month of life.

Mont Blanc in the left front was smaller than the other cria many born weeks after him. The cria would gather in this dirt spot for their naps, one of few interactions he had with the others.

In his own little way, without ever holding him in my arms, a special affinity grew over these past almost three months. (Alpacas don’t like to be touched by humans but will engage in eye to eye communication with their gentle moans and hums easily expressing interest and love).

And when I began to notice how little he actually nursed while seldom munching on the grass, his tiny stature became more and more evident as the more newly born cria passed him in size when they were but a few weeks old.

Reporting our observations to Trish and Neil they weighed him to discover he was considerably underweight.  Then, when we took this below photo of him trying to nurse while another unrelated fast-growing cria nursed from his mom, we knew something was terribly wrong. We reported this to Trish and Neil immediately showing them the photo.

It was this photo that further prompted us to notify Trish and Neil when we suspected something was terribly wrong when tiny Mont Blanc (on the left) was attempting to nurse from his mom while another born-this-season cria nursed from her as well, an uncommon scene. Even Giselle looks surprised by this event.  Click here for the post on that date.

At that point, Trish and Neil separated Mont Blanc and Giselle from the others in another paddock closer to their house, a distance from ours. Each day, we walked to that paddock to see how he was doing. Once they moved them, he gained a little weight, later losing it all. At times we spotted him with a few blades of grass in his mouth in an attempt to eat as shown in this photo below. 

Last week the vet came to the farm to check on him. The report wasn’t good. Mont Blanc wasn’t thriving. When Trish and Neil had left for the Easter holiday last week, we continued to walk to the distant paddock to check on him.

Recently, we wandered through the other paddocks looking for him. When we didn’t see him, I wrote to Trish asking where we’d find Mont Blanc and she wrote:

“Mount Blanc…. I had the vet look at him and he was very worried.  We discussed ideas and possibilities. I had already realized something was definitely wrong and the vet agreed. I took him to the vet clinic on Thursday where he was euthanized.  Horrible outcome but as it turned out the vet and we knew it was something untreatable – He did a post-mortem and found the outlet from the second to third stomach was restricted to only a pinhole so no food was getting through and no nutrition. We were never going to win with him.  Being blue-eyed may have had something to do with it because they may often have malformations. Sad but he is no longer suffering.”

At this point, we all thought he was doing better.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I read her message, my heart heavy for his little life, so sweet, so precious, now taken away. As I write this now, the tears flow once again. 

It’s ironic how when we lose an animal, however short a period we loved them, we are reminded of all of God’s creatures that we’ve lost in times past. It was only a few weeks ago that Tom and I reread the blog I wrote when we lost our last dog, Willie in 2011. 

The five-year anniversary of the day we lost Willie is in a few days and reading it still makes us cry. Here’s the link to the first day I wrote Willie’s blog (the balance follows in the archives) after he was diagnosed with cancer and given only weeks to live. 

For a period of time, he seemed to be doing better. But that soon faded and again he lost weight.  We were so hopeful.

I wrote the blog in the first person as if in his own words, picking it up “in my words” after he was gone. Writing Willie’s blog, my first foray into blogging was a healing process and inspiration in writing here now, all these years later.

In a funny way, writing here today, after discovering that Mont Blanc will no longer be found in any of the paddocks hanging out with his mom, is also a healing process. 

And yet, a sense of sorrow remains; for Mont Blanc, for Willie, for all the other dogs we’ve lost along the way, for all the people we’ve lost along the way, and for all the sorrows we’ve all experienced in our lives.

As happy as we are in our lives of traveling the world, we’re never exempt from the feelings of love or for the caring of those we’ve lost both human and animal, and for those we’ve left behind. Love travels well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2015:

The rushing waters below at high tide in Princeville, Kauai.  For more photos, please click here.

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