Within these beautiful eyes lie the wants and dreams of a gentle soul. Even though her eyes cannot see, they are as expressive as any others.
Her Hebrew name, Shira (shee-ra), means poetry or song.
Although we only know a small part of her song, we at Twin Heart Animal Sanctuary
, in Tappen, BC, have no doubt that it’s a lifelong melody of sadness and grief.
Shira is a six-year-old hair sheep who was likely bred every year of her life. And each time, her babies were taken away when her humans decided it was time to wean. She would never see any of them again. Year after year, she gave birth to lambs and year after year, she grieved their loss.
The day she was brought to us, she had to leave her twin ewe lambs behind. We tried to obtain them for her, but the farmers wanted that particular lineage for breeding and did not wish to part with them. Such is the way of animal agriculture.
And so, along with her anguish, her udder became swollen and sore from the sudden weaning. I milked her once a day—just enough to take off some pressure but not enough to stimulate more milk supply.
Shira called almost constantly for her babies. Our hearts broke for her and we made a pledge then and there to allow her to live the best life possible. She’d been through enough.
Shira had been in a barn for the past year because they hadn't known she was blind when they bought her and had no safe, outside area. She was frightfully emaciated (the vet was shocked when he came to examine her), full of worms (her spine was far too evident and her belly large from the worms), and her coat was incredibly greasy, with large, yellow flakes emanating from her skin.
She was frightened, not being able to see, and missing her babies. But she was also happy to be outside, albeit on a line. She inhaled the grass like a vacuum. Over the next two weeks, she started to relax, came to trust us, and forged a relationship with Koni, one of the goats.
We couldn’t put her in with the sanctuary’s other 3 sheep because their flock dynamics are well entrenched. As with any species, sheep have specific manners to uphold and when one is blind, the others see them as simply being rude. They would probably eventually work it out, but in the meantime, she could well be hurt.
Instead, we decided to let Keitou (our very large, Nubian wether who recently lost his best friend, our much-loved mare, Sahali, of 25 years.), Koni (another Nubian, recently saved from slaughter), and Shira to be loose in the yard area. There is lots of grazing and browsing, and even more mischief to get into!
However, currently she has to be tied because there is a drop-off.
The plan is to be able to let this sweet girl free to roam the yard with those 2 goats and the donkey. We’ll put a bell on Koni so that Shira will know where she is and can keep up with her.
But here’s the problem…. We need a new shelter for them, and we need about 30 sheep panels to go around the retaining wall. It’s not at all dangerous for sighted animals, but it’d be easy for Shira to fall to injury or worse. Once they are up, she'll quickly learn the area, know when she can run and play, and do so as safely as possible.
She’ll know where the shelter is (currently, I am out there about 15 times a day, untangling her, taking her in out of rain (using the trailer that we need in case of emergency), moving her from the hay to the grass, and letting her get as close to the others as possible), exactly where the water trough and hay are, and will, for the first time in years, maybe in her life, have a feeling of freedom.
Shira is a special soul and we’d like to help her live out the rest of her years in peace and with a feeling of joy.
If you can help at all (any amount is extremely appreciated) that’d be wonderful! If you can’t donate, but can share on social media, we would be grateful for that as well.
Shira has had enough stolen from her. Let’s finally give her the life she deserves.