Christmas eve miracle redux

Togo about a week after Christmas last year. (Photo: Pierre Nzuah)

Last Christmas, I wrote about a Christmas eve lamb who survived against all odds. And I followed up with this.

While we were casting about for a name, we decided to start using African countries for all of our dark-fleeced lambs. At Pierre’s suggestion, we named the first dark ewe “Cameroon,” after Pierre’s home country. When our “miracle” lamb survived, Pierre offered “Togo” for his name. And, Togo it is. (Pierre is an international student at SUNY Canton who spends vacations and school breaks with us, a second son now.)

Togo had a rough first few months: there was a crippled leg which Bill splinted; then he failed to thrive, unable to compete with others for food, and seemed to be getting weaker and weaker. At three months, we moved him back into a newborn protected area, resumed bottle feeding and watched as he lost his entire fleece (probably from malnutrition), then perked up, gained weight, grew a beautiful new fleece, and threw away his crutches.

I think about Togo whenever I’m feeling cynical, depressed about the world, or just overwhelmed by day to day pressures. In my mind’s eye, I see Togo running around the pasture, literally kicking up his heels, confounding what seemed like an inevitable fate. Maybe, that’s what miracles are all about…

Here’s Togo in a picture I took this morning, a year to the day from when we found him almost frozen to death on a wintry Christmas eve.

Okay, I can’t think of a better gift to each other than sharing animal stories. Have at it in the comment section. Would love to hear from you.

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5 Comments on “Christmas eve miracle redux”

  1. Jeri Wright says:

    Your beautiful story reminds me of my rescued standard poodle, Chula (‘sweet’ in Spanish), who came to me at age two. She looked like a scrawny lamb, abused, malnourished and afraid. She’s red like Togo’s main color. Chula is now eight and my companion everywhere even in my canoe and tent. She is truly sweet!
    Thanks for sharing more of Togo’s miraculous life.

  2. Becky harblin says:


  3. ellen, thank you for this story. my 14 year old border collie wendy came to live with us 13 years ago today. as she ages, and in fact almost died this year, i’m learning a certain kind of grace from her. partially deaf and blind, and with heart disease, she no longer gallops through new snow. but she does stand on the stoop, nose into west, marking winter, her favorite time.

  4. Helene says:

    Thanks, Ellen, for the heartening uplift. It has been a challenge to celebrate anything following the murder of children.

  5. Jim Akins says:

    It is these wondrous stories that help get us up the mountains life can throw up sometimes. Thank you for sharing Togo’s story

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