by Max Brantley
I've given Blog readers reports from my favorite Democrat-Gazette columnist, Gene Lyons, about his rescue of the sickly Charolais calf, Layla, in Gene's new life as a full-time resident of rural Perry County.
Today, prepare to choke up. I had a heads-up Dec. 1.
Layla's eating heartily, seems to feel OK, but her neurological problems aren't going away. Right now, she can't stand up on her own, although she can walk OK once I get her up. If I can't teach her, I'm gonna have to give up.
I've made an appointment to have Layla put down today. I could do it, but Diane doesn't want me to. She thinks it'd have a bad effect on me.
Layla's still lying down all day, making no decisions on her own. I have to put food, water under her nose, move her as weather dictates. She's totally non-responsive to the others. Basically, she's not living as a cow, and shows no sign of getting better.
She seems to have no real immune system, and appears to be getting pnuemonia again. I just don't think there's much point in going forward.
Having healthy calves around makes her plight more obvious, pitiful. I had no idea how vigorous, playful, energetic a healthy calf is.
This photo, taken last week when I thought she might be getting better, tells the story. Buster, on the left, is ten days old. He was born Thanksgiving day. Layla's 7 months. Jennifer, on the right, is 6 months. Note her size. That's how Layla should look.
I can still lift Layla in my arms. Jennifer weighs more than I do, and is, of course, far stronger. I should add that Layla had been lying in that spot since I placed her there in early morning. Buster and Jennifer joined her. They keep trying to get her to play head-butt and chase with them, but she can hardly stand without me helping her.
I hate to give up, but continuing would be cruel.
UPDATE: A note Saturday from Gene responds to a question about vet care.