Until the Next Time Bodhi – sleep tight little one!
It is with a broken and heavy heart I write this blog to share with you the unbelievably sad news that our baby Bodhi passed away on Sunday morning; he was only 9 months old.
Devastation and shattering does not even start to cover the feelings caused by his passing.
Bodhi was the Lotus baby, but apart from that, he was the soft, the gentle and the meek. The others are cheeky and full of character, but baby Bodhi was different; he had an energy and personality unlike any other. He was a very special little boy, it is with all sincerity that I say, he was just like an angel in sentient form.
Sadly Bodhi was never ever a strong calf; he had some issues that indicated his brain may have been slightly starved of oxygen at birth, but we hoped with time he’d get stronger.
He was removed from his mother immediately so his milk went into the stomach of humans rather than the stomach it was made for…his! This meant he missed out on her early milk which contains vital colostrum for the growth and development of a healthy body and immune system. Bodhi constantly had the company of other animals (mainly Tara the little lamb), and humans, but because he was that bit more frail and vulnerable, it was his Mum and her milk he desperately needed to give him the start in life he really required to allow him the possibility of growing into a big healthy strong boy just like his older big brother Prince…who was also the son of a dairy cow. Prince has turned into one of the biggest Friesian’s I’ve ever seen in my life…and I’ve seen many Friesians – Prince is huge!
A study (Flower & Weary 2001) which investigated the effects of separating dairy calves from their mothers at a very early stage such as 1 day old in comparison with a later separation of say 14 days old, showed that the later separation calves will gain up to 3 times more weight than early separation calves.
The Bony Breed Created by Humans
Holstein Friesians are traditionally used in the dairy industry. Humans have interfered with these once wild animals and have introduced methods to increase their milk production! In the 1950’s Friesians were producing around 5,300 pounds of milk per year, today the average is around 23,000. This constant milking has made them a genetically bony and slim breed, so although Prince is so big, he is still rather bony; his hip and pelvis bones for example are clearly visible, but he’s in no way underweight. Just like greyhounds, whippets and Afghan Hounds are the slim breed of the dog world, Friesian’s are the bony breed of the cattle world. However, that doesn’t mean Friesians cannot be underweight or unusually thin due to poor health etc, but it does explain that most Friesians are not “emaciated” as many people believe and describe the to be…but make no mistake, it is humans who have brought that change about to their physique, 70 years ago they were a very different shape and size!
Because of Bodhi’s poor start in life during those first few days without his Mother, this meant he really struggled desperately to gain weight, making him even smaller and thinner for his age than he should’ve been, and he definitely had a weakened immune system.
Saved from a Bullet!
Bodhi was the son of a dairy cow, so when he was born into the dairy industry it was decided he was to be “shot”. This was simply because he was a boy; boys are unable to produce milk, so they’re regarded as “surplus to requirements”. This does not happen to ALL male calves, but it does happen to many. Some are shipped off for live export on long journeys abroad in crammed trucks, some are used for veal, some (like Prince) are kept for 18 months or so to be fattened up (as best as any Friesian can be), and then sold for meat, but a big percentage of them are shot – this is known as “the dirty secret”. It is generally cheaper to kill male calves than rear them.
Male chicks in the egg industry face the same horrors.
Bodhi was alone and by himself waiting to be shot when we (Lotus Heart Sanctuary) received a phone call to ask if we could rescue him; of course we immediately said yes!
What a true honour it was to be part of his life; Bodhi touched the lives of all who met him and it was an absolute blessing to have had him as part of our Lotus family… even if he was on borrowed time.
He will be forever in the heart of Lotus and the hearts of all who knew and loved him. Wee Tara will have him forever in her heart; they were literally never apart from the day they met when they were both just days old.
Bodhi may not go to the new sanctuary in his full physical form, but he will go in spirit and in what’s left of his beautiful little body in his ashes; they will be kept then scattered/buried at the sanctuary when the time is right.
Looking for a New Home!
At Lotus of course we fully believe the body is the guesthouse and the soul is the guest…Bodhi is just running free in a meadow right now looking for a new guesthouse to reside in – his little soul will pass over to somewhere new, and then he will reunite with us in another form. He may not be here now as we knew him for that amazing 9 months we were blessed enough to spend time with him, but he’ll always be with us…forever! No coming, no going, no after, no before, no birth, no death.
Since Sunday there have been lots of meditations and ceremonies for Bodhi. Throughout the days the vision that constantly is seen is Bodhi in a beautiful meadow with long lush green grass and lots of beautiful flowers, and upon his little head, a halo/crown of daisies. – so that vision was brought to life as best as possible!
Some of you may remember when we rescued Bodhi, in order for him to “legally” leave the farm he was on, he HAD to have those tiny little ears clamped with ear tags – he was so tiny; the tags were actually bigger than his little ears! However, it’s a legal requirement that he must wear them; that was him entering the “system” which dictates he was a mere number, a commodity, a product…stock; “livestock”! Even though he was never going to enter that food chain, he still legally had to be registered as if he was entering it just because of his species.
It was following this situation that we started the Ear Tags petition for UK Sanctuary Animals to be chipped instead of tagged. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/262398 (This petition was closed early due to the UK General Election)
Microchipping Bodhi would’ve been so much easier and kinder to him and would have removed that stark reminder of the industry he’d been saved from, and, that he was viewed by most as nothing more than a number.
The Instinct to Suck
Bodhi tried desperately to suck on everything he possibly could in sheer desperation for milk (including Tara’s ears). He eventually settled down and got used to a bottle and eventually a bucket, but even recently, he’d still give the odd suck at hands and ears in hope he may find some milk; it’s just natural instinct for a baby to want to suck and feed. However, regardless of his trying, he was such a good and trusting little soul, he just accepted everything that came to him. He was so docile, loving and gentle, he was always looking for cuddles and to be close to someone…and bless little Tara, she was there 24/7 for him. He poured love from every part of him at any and every opportunity possible.
Birth, Life & Death
The death process of any being is viewed by Lotus as a very important time that should be treated with the greatest care and respect. However, sadly for certain species like cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens & turkeys death isn’t any easier or more respectful than birth or life itself. When they die naturally as opposed to being slaughtered they’re referred to as “fallen stock”. Any registered keeper (like Lotus) is responsible for the “safe and legal disposal of fallen stock (dead livestock)” – words from the government website…how insensitive and disrespectful!
On the Government website it states –
You are allowed to bury pet animals.
A pet animal is defined in the regulations as “any animal belonging to a species normally nourished and kept, but not consumed, by humans for purposes other than farming”.
This does not apply to farm animals such as sheep, cows, pigs, goats and poultry.
Farm animals must be disposed of using an approved disposal method for fallen stock.
This is how these animals and the people who love and care for them are treated; this happens throughout birth, life and even death, constant discrimination and disrespect.
In death Bodhi would normally go to a “knacker’s yard” like Grayshill – but the very thought of that was inconceivable for this little sweet innocent baby.
Through the tears, devastation and grief, finding a crematorium who’d agree to cremate him proved very difficult; I was just met with constant declines.
This only added to the heartache of losing him as he was yet again referred to as “it” and “livestock”. The ones who referred to him insensitively and flippantly as “it” and “livestock” won’t be named – but a heartfelt thank you goes to Central Pet Cremations in Falkirk; although they couldn’t do it, they were so lovely and very respectful. They referred to him as “he”, “Bodhi” or “little one”. They apologised profusely and explained they didn’t have a license for “cattle” (they said cattle rather than saying “livestock”).
Discrimination – Speciesism
It is completely understandable that businesses and organisations can only follow the law and work to their specific licences. However, this is a common theme which we meet all over the UK when talking about farm animals. For example, when Prince was first rescued back in 2016, we almost missed saving him as we could not find a place to keep him. A beautiful field was all organised with a stables for the winter(not ideal but I knew if he was safe, I could look for better winter accommodation). However, that all fell through at the last minute; this was simply because the people who kept horses in the next field & stables said they did not want their horses mixing with “cattle”!
Many people refer to specific species as if they are dirty, or of a lower “class” than other species. It’s clearly their perception that some species are disease ridden, and many people behave in a manner almost as if by merely breathing the same air as these species, other animals (human & non-human) may be poisoned! So forgive me if I find it ironic that this is the perception yet so many of these people are happy to sit down and dine on the rotting flesh from the dead bodies of these animals they cannot bear to mix with! It makes absolutely no sense. If people believe them to be disease ridden, why then would they choose to eat them? It is cognitive dissonance and all comes back to conditioning and sadly lacking a connection to life itself.
Dealing with that discrimination known as speciesism at the best of times is challenging enough, but whilst dealing with the grief and loss of a loved one, it only adds fuel to that already raging fire of heartache.
The Pet Crematorium
Luckily however I found solace in a place in Larkhall called “The Pet Crematorium” which had been recommended to me by a friend. I’d phoned them first thing on Monday morning, but there would be a one hour delay before the lady started I needed to speak to.
I was anxious to get this organised as soon as possible as I didn’t want Bodhi lying longer than need be – he’d died on Sunday morning and this was Monday morning, hence the reason I had phoned so many other pet crematoriums within the hour I was waiting, but not one of them could do it!
This was my last chance for a cremation for Bodhi!
The service I received from The Pet Crematorium was absolutely out of this world. They were so very lovely and immediately put me at ease; they said they’d check if they could take care of Bodhi and phone me back. Within 10 mins they phoned back and said yes, they would cremate Bodhi for me.
Losing anyone is heart-breaking, losing a baby is shocking, the pain is intense, but going through rigmarole in an attempt to get them a respectful and dignified farewell only adds to the heartache and causes stress and anxiety. The Pet Crematorium immediately removed that stress and anxiety and allowed me to simply focus on preparing Bodhi. They also allowed me to simply grieve and just “be” with that heartache.
I drove Bodhi there myself – the skies were grey and the rain could not have come down any heavier. It had been raining for days and the surface water and splash back on the roads was colossal; it would make for dangerous driving at the best of times, but through the tears of grief, it wasn’t the best driving conditions.
When I arrived I was met by the most compassionate and gentle people. They couldn’t have been any nicer about Bodhi if he’d been a cat, dog or human. Not many people will maybe understand this, but that level of respect for him just allowed me to focus on Bodhi and put aside having to deal with any disrespect or discrimination because he is a different species to the usual animals they will work with – what a breath of fresh air.
Before we went out to see him, I explained and even found myself apologising for his condition as he had passed away the day before – but even when I told them that, they did nothing but reassure me and offer Bodhi complete respect. I knew he was in good and loving hands.
One of the last things they asked me before I left Bodhi behind on that grey day in Larkhall, was just to clarify once again the pronunciation of his name – that was as I was leaving…that tells a story in itself. I was leaving, so obviously they wanted clarification on his name so when they were working with him behind the scenes, they could use his name, and even pronounce it properly – such a lovely touch.
I wanted to keep his ear tags; I legally couldn’t remove them while transporting him, so I asked the crematorium if they’d do it, and I said I’d pick them up with his ashes. They immediately not only obliged, but they asked if I’d like them to take away that day; which I really appreciated as it was a comfort. The tags weren’t numbers to me, they were just pieces of plastic which had been close to Bodhi all his life, so I wanted them, but mainly because they had little bits of his beautiful fluffy coat stuck on them.
His tags were also a reminder of the work his short life inspired, and will continue to inspire for the rest of my life!
Ashes to Ashes
The crematorium said it would be up to 7 days before I received his ashes back, but actually, it was only 72 hours; I dropped him off Monday lunch time and picked his ashes up Thursday lunchtime!
I was very impressed with the quality of the beautiful casket he came back in, it is just so beautiful!
I also got the opportunity to get a heart locket with some of his ashes safely inserted into it and sealed – so many ways I have been able to keep him close.
It really is the loveliest and most comforting service the crematorium offer!
Always in Our Heart – A Life to Remember, Never Forgotten
Bodhi meant the absolute world to me. I love all the animals equally, no favouritism because of species, no more closeness because of indoor or outdoor living (house, field, barn), just unconditional straightforward love and respect for them all equally. They’re all different, but the same in the ways that matter.
He may have had a short life, but he had a great time – especially with his little Tara.
His story and his beautiful face also made it to the Vegan Life Magazine December issue and their 2020 calendar where he is the face of May 2020.
Sleep tight little Bodhi – you’ll need lots of energy for our next adventure.
You are loved eternally precious gentle little boy
A special thanks to Louise, Claire, Michael and Jonathan at The Pet Crematorium for all the respect, care and compassion they showed to Bodhi – it is appreciated more than could ever be known, and will never be forgotten!
These are 2 poems I took comfort from which I found on The Pet Crematorium website – I thought I’d share them here for Bodhi, and for anyone grieving the loss of anyone in any way.
When Tomorrow Starts Without Me
When tomorrow starts without me,
and I’m not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes,
all filled with tears for me,
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry,
though I know your heart aches so
But remember it was for the best…
It was my time to go.
I know how much you love me…
As much as I love you.
And each time you’re thinking of me,
I know you’ll miss me too.
When tomorrow starts without me,
don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I’m right here in your heart.
– Author Unknown
His Journeys Just Began
Don’t think of him as gone away…
His journey has just begun.
Life holds many facets,
the Earth is only one.
Just think of him as resting from
the sorrows and the tears,
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.
Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today,
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.
And think of him as living
in the hearts of those he touched,
For nothing loved is ever lost…
And he was loved so much.
– Ellen Brenneman
And finally, one by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Contemplation On No Coming and No Going
This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.
So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
to meet again soon.
We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.
Thich Nhat Hanh
100% of profits from all sales at Bohemian Hippy will be donated to Lotus Heart Sanctuary to help rescue and care for animals like Bodhi
We will continue to rescue calves like Bodhi and Prince and other animals regardless of species in need of love, compassion and a forever home (as long as we have facilities suitable for homing them).