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Last Good-byes

posted 12/30/2016 11:58:33 AM |
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tagged: pets, sick, death, responsibility, love

Owning pets comes with the responsibility of knowing when it's time to make the decision of ending their pain and suffering. It's one of the hardest decisions to make, not wanting to end their lives too soon, but not wanting to prolong any pain they may be experiencing.

Two days ago, my daughter called me mid-afternoon. This is highly unusual, as she's either at work, or busy looking after the farm. After asking how I was, and me asking her, she said she wasn't good. Of course, I asked why while my stomach dropped, hoping it wasn't about Nick, my horse that she has in her care.

Fortunately, it wasn't. But it was about one of her horses. The standardbred mare that was given to them 10 years ago suffered an eye injury last year and is blind in one eye. That alone wasn't the reason, as Nick, my fuzzy buddy, had become her sight on that side, and always put himself on the blind side of her to protect her.

No, the reason was more significant. There had been issues with her hind end for awhile that they had been working on with massages and medication. Monday, she went down in her stall and they had a heck of a time getting her back up. Then Wednesday, the day my daughter called, she had gone down in her stall again and they couldn't get her back up. They had to use the tractor to drag her out of the stall (she has a winter blanket on to protect her), with a sling type contraption and then lift her up with the tractor.

Once she was up, she was okay, but horses can't be down for long periods of time as it can cause health issues that can result in death. We spoke of how hard making this decision is, but I said, you know, you don't want to go out to the barn and find she's frozen to death because she can't get up. So yes, she knows having the vet put her down is the right decision, it just doesn't make it any easier.

My daughter couldn't have her put down that day as, living in a rather remote area, the vets are not available this week. The earliest she could get a vet out was today. To ensure that Tea (the horse's name) wouldn't go down in the stall again, she left her and my horse in a paddock with access to a stall so they could keep each other company, and hopefully, prevent her from going down again.

Yesterday, she sent me pics of the two of them. Nick, my horse sticking his tongue out at Tea, and Tea with her ears back, pissed off at Nick for something. Both of them are 29 years old, but Nick still acts like he's about 2. Tea has had a much harder life, being a race horse for many years, then a brood mare right up until she was 19. Her last ten years have been the best and easiest. Nick's a brat, so undoubtedly he was licking her food dish. The next pic, shows her 'laughing' at Nick, her mouth open, lips back with an 'eff you' look on her face. She probably got a treat and he didn't.

Nick will miss her, as he did Moka. When Moka was put down, right after the vet said she was gone, he whinnied out in the field. I won't be surprised if he does the same thing today.

Fortunately, they were able to find someone who has a machine that can get through the frozen ground to dig a hole for her and won't charge them anything to do it. It brings back memories of having Moka put down, and it brings tears to my eyes. It seems, the bigger the animal, the bigger chunk of your heart they take. There really is nothing like the relationship between horse and rider. They have to trust that you won't put them in a fight or flight situation, and you have to trust they won't hurt you, on the ground or while on their back. There's no bond like it. I still miss Moka.

I'm sorry my daughter has to go through this, but it's part of the responsibility of ownership of pets, regardless of their size. It comes to a point where you have to ask whether you're keeping them alive for your benefit or theirs. If it's kinder to put them down, then that's what must be done.

I'm glad I was home for my daughter to talk to, as her b/f won't allow her any display of emotion. I don't know if she'll call today, after it's done, but at least I was able to tell her what to expect, and where to be so she could keep her hand on her when the vet gives her the final needle.

Final good-byes are always hard. The great thing, the hoof prints (or paw prints) they leave on our hearts and in our minds are indelible.

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Dec 30 @ 1:23PM  
Sorry to hear of Tea's impending demise.
Someone should start an old horse's home to care for the elderly,
as they need assistance.

Dec 30 @ 1:23PM  
Kipling said that whoever loves a dog gives a hostage to Time. The same is true of most other animals, their lives being shorter than ours.

All we can do is make the part of their lives we share comfortable and as happy as possible, and it sounds like your daughter gave an old horse extra years and happy years. At 73, my human friends are passing too. But if their age is ripe and their lives have been full, all we can do is release them, and remember the shared good times, and accepting their passing as part of our natures.

Perhaps Irish wakes have the right idea. Take a drop to drown our sorrow, take several more to celebrate the now completed life.

Dec 30 @ 2:05PM  
Jim - at 29 she's considered old, especially for a racehorse. Once their hind end goes, there isn't much more you can do. It's just time. Sad, but life.


Dec 30 @ 2:09PM  
Tom - and Irish wake sounds good to me. Death, unfortunately, is just part of life, and our four legged friends just happen to have much shorter life spans. However, during those short life spans, they certainly pack a lot of love into them. We, as humans, have a lot to learn from them.


Dec 30 @ 5:18PM  
Putting down a pet can be very difficult.

Sorry to hear your daughter having to go through this.

Dec 30 @ 5:53PM  
Always hard to say goodbye to a pet, even more so when one has to make that decision. I've had to do that twice. And I'll admit to crying my eyes out both times.

So sorry your daughter is going through this. It's very hard.
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