My sheep died last week. I am devastated. I miss him terribly, even though I only got to see him about once a year on my annual trek to Animal Acres, a farm animal rescue outside of LA. He won such a place in my heart that he is in my author’s bio picture on the back of my book!
But with his death, we can learn a lot from Oliver. He, along with many other sheep and goats, were found in 2005 just after Animal Acres opened. There were discovered in a slaughterhouse where the animals were found living in a cement building with no windows, surrounded everywhere by piles of excrement. Many of the animals were so weak they could no longer stand. Some, like Oliver, had horrible wounds, suffering at the hands of our fellow humans. The massive scar on his neck was a reminder of his slaughterhouse days that would stay with him for the rest of his life. All the animals found there on that fateful day suffered from infections, parasites, and severe respiratory illnesses, presumably from smelling the toxic fumes from the waste that they were standing in all day. Our fellow humans did this to Oliver and the other animals there.
Yet, when they were rescued and brought to Animal Acres to receive health care and to live out their lives at the beautiful sanctuary, Oliver forgave humans, and became an ambassador for the sanctuary. He was always the first to come trotting up to visitors, and loved to snuggle and kiss. If you stopped petting him he would gently nudge your hand, lest you had accidentally forgotten he was there. If you wanted to go visit the cows or chickens or goats, Oliver would escort you there, and be right by your side, so content to simply be in your presence.
Do you have people in your life that you are still holding grudges against? Are there events from your past that you are still bitter about? Is there someone in your life that you need to reach out and snuggle with more often? No matter what you have suffered at the hands of others, you can still turn your heart around and learn to love again. Although some may think “he’s just a sheep,” Oliver has taught me an amazing lesson, and I hope that, with his death, he can still continue to teach others, too.