Posted on Apr 16, 2015
This week we helped Claire out of her body, walked her home, and set her free. Before she left, I told her that she had done an excellent job here, as an ambassador, a teacher, a healer, and a friend. She was always gentle and kind and she opened up thousands of hearts and minds to the affection and intelligence of turkeys. I told her how grateful I was to have known her and to have served with her as my partner. As she took her last breath, I promised her that I would tell her story to everyone I know so that more people will know what is being done to these beautiful creatures, and more people can make kinder choices and help create a gentler world for turkeys, all animals, and all people.
Wild turkeys live about twenty years. Scientists have taken the DNA of a wild turkey and genetically engineered it to create a man made turkey designed to get very big, very fast, so they can be slaughtered at twelve weeks old. Because of this genetic engineering, turkeys that we save from Thanksgiving grow very big and eventually cannot walk.
Unfortunately, Claire was no exception. Claire was only two years old but she was the equivalent of a five-hundred pound person. Her joints were compromised, making it hard to walk, and the weight was pushing on her lungs, making it difficult for her to breath. This week the vet confirmed that Claire was not comfortable and it was time to honor her the hardest and most important way, by letting her go. When we save animals our vow to them is not only to give them the best life, love, and care possible, but also to love them enough to set them free when they are ready and when their bodies are no longer serving them.
Claire was rescued from Thanksgiving two years ago. She was filthy and terrified when we brought her home. For months, we showed her that we would always be gentle and kind to her and eventually she believed us. One day, after being here for a few months, Claire crawled into a visitors lap and fell asleep. That was the day that Claire let go of her fear and became an ambassador. Since then Claire has cuddled with thousands of people from all over the world and has left an ever-lasting impression on them.
Many years ago I met a woman who shared with me that she was so happy that day because her dog of many years had passed away. She said the transition was so peaceful that it left her feeling elated and joyful for the rest of the day. I had no idea what that woman was talking about and I wondered why she was not crying and mourning her dog’s death. For the first time in almost twenty years, I finally understand what that woman was talking about because after Claire’s passing I too feel the same way. Claire was ready to go and left so quickly, easily, effortlessly, and joyfully. Claire knew her body was only giving her grief and she was ready to let go of it. She also knew that at the other side she would find peace. Animals are so brave that way and we have so much to learn from them! For the last few days, we have been feeling Claire’s unhappiness and it permeated the barnyard. The minute Claire rose up from her body the energy in the yard shifted and all we could feel was joy and elation. I can still feel her spirit here from the minute I walk into the barnyard, and it is warm and loving and peaceful.
Claire showed us all just how courageous, intelligent, and loving turkeys are. Even more importantly, Claire showed us that when we look beyond the feathers and fluff, turkeys are just like dogs or cats or people; full of grace, heart and soul! Just before Claire started having mobility issues, she started teaching the other turkeys in the yard how to be ambassadors, cuddle people, and fall asleep in their laps. Claire did such a great job that our newest turkeys, Nalla and McKenna Rocket, are now following visitors around and asking to be pet. Claire not only did an exemplary job while she was here but she made sure that her position was filled before she left. So come see our new cuddle turkeys, and while you are here, shut your eyes for a few minutes and breath in deeply: that joy and peace that you feel, that’s Claire still here with us, still opening hearts and changing lives!
Written by Ellie Laks
Founder, The Gentle Barn