“Fare thee well, old friend”

Today we said goodbye to our old friend Cuzco. I gave him a final grooming, and we put the other goats away so Phil and I could take him for a last short walk with us all to himself as he’s always preferred. He couldn’t go far. He was so tired. He had a wonderful last day. He ate four powdered donuts and the remains of last night’s popcorn full of butter and cheese dust. He got to lick the bowl clean. He ate many peanuts and animal crackers on our walk, and he finished up with almost an entire can of cheddar Pringles. He was a happy goat right up to the end. It was truly a sign when we came back from our walk that Cuzco stopped at his own graveside and waited there while Phil and I went on across the pasture and up to the house to retrieve a few things for his burial. I’m sure he knew, but he was ready and, true to form, he wasn’t afraid. Cuzco cheated death so many times in his fifteen years that I guess by now he had nothing left to prove. He reminded me of “The Tale of Three Brothers” in the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–“And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”

Also true to form, he gave us a perfect Hollywood exit. Cuzco has never graced the Silver Screen, but if any goat deserved a star on the Walk of Fame, it’s him. He lay down, leaned his face against mine, and when our vet gave him the injection he simply went to sleep. There was not a gasp or a groan, not a shudder or a flinch. I felt his last breath hit my cheek and then his head fell softly into my lap where he lay still while his heart gave it’s final few beats. And I am reminded of yet another Harry Potter quote: “…death is like going to bed after a very, very long day.” Cuzco set his affairs in order when he passed the leadership baton to Finn, and there was nothing left for him to do.

I left his collar and ID tag on him. I figured that way when he got to Heaven they’d know he belongs to us and won’t send him the other direction for being ornery and growling at Saint Peter. Even if he has to stay in “unclaimed baggage” for a while, at least they know we’ll pick him up eventually. I also left him with the remainders of the can of Pringles so he can snack along the way. Yeah, I know it’s all very silly, but it felt better than hauling that stuff back to the house with me and then having to look at it. Cuzco had sneezed in the Pringles can anyway so they were all his.

Cuzco is laid to rest under our totem pole. His baby portrait is carved at the top. When we look out the window or come up our driveway we’ll see his marker and be reminded of all the wonderful, happy times we had together. I’ll never forget my “Cuzco the One-Horned Wonder Goat”. He’ll always be larger than life, like the goat version of John Wayne. It’s been very hard to let him go, but it was the right thing to do. He was ready, and as he gently passed from this life I could almost hear him whisper “Thank you.”

This was our last photo together.

8 thoughts on ““Fare thee well, old friend”

  1. I am so sorry, I know it’s really really hard sometimes to do the right thing. I know I will never forget him. His visit to VT. His walking into Walmart. His great personality. His joy from Phillip playing his fiddle. He was truly one of a kind.

  2. That wonder goat was one of the highlights of my senior year at Houghton. I remember him dancing on our lawn and then running inside to hide in our upstairs bathroom. I remember him being our unofficial Homecoming King and proudly walking, bedecked in flowers, in our parade. This post was a worthy send off to a worthy goat.

  3. Nan and Phil, sad to think of Cuzco being gone. He was an awesome goat, I remember how hard I laughed when you showed us how he could”repent”😊 it’s a really wonderful blog memorial, Nan. Miss you guys!

  4. I blame it on pregnancy hormones that I teared up reading this post a few days back, Nan. It is always so sad to say goodbye, no matter when it happens, and Cuzco truly was magnificent. I always think of him as a kind of goat archetype. He distilled the essence of “noble goat” and swilled it down.

    Mom and I have talked a lot about animals in Heaven. If the Lord chooses to reanimate some of His worthy creatures, as I like to think He may, then Cuzco will be waiting for you to arrive. (And you’d better have a can of Pringles in hand when you do!)

  5. Thanks Angela. He was excellent at “cleaning the outside of the dish” with that “Repent!” trick of his. We sure miss you guys too.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts Abby. Cuzco definitely exuded magnificence in everything he did and he’ll always be a “goat archetype” in my book. I have no doubt that we’ll see our animals again one day. God loves them even more than we do, and I firmly believe that the love we impart to our animals gives them a soul that does not end with their lives.

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