The Last Goodbye

The feeling that something was very wrong overwhelmed me. I had just returned a school pony back to her mountainside paddock when I “heard” a cry for help. I glanced down a  nearby shed row of stalls. Nothing seemed out of place so I started back down the mountain. Again, I sensed something was not right. I hiked back up to the top paddock which housed two pregnant mares. I carefully stepped into the paddock and checked each one over. Both stood happily grazing on a flake of hay, oblivious to my concern about them. I ran my hand over their expanding bellies and asked each one the gender of her foal. One was to have a colt, the other a filly. ( A few months later, each gave birth to the gender they revealed to me! ) Satisfied that all was well,  I started my way back down the hill when I was hit with the knowledge that something was definitely wrong. Again I was “hearing” a cry for help. This time it was more urgent. Immediately I headed to the shed row of stalls.

Dandy stood hunched up, shaking violently in a cold sweat. I Immediately haltered him and began to check him over. His pulse was racing and his gum color was white. I clipped a lead to his halter and tried to get him to the main barn. He wouldn’t budge. He began to shake harder, then tried to lay down. Thinking this must be a colic gone very wrong, I began shouting to people down at the barn to call the vet. I continued to encourage Dandy to move forward, but he refused. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got Dandy down the hill and began homeopathic remedies to keep him stable until he could be seen by the vet. Once the vet arrived, she used heroic measures to help stabilize Dandy. A plan was then put into place to treat an internal infection.  One of the many roles I had at this farm was to assist the veterinarian and to deliver prescribed treatments. Dandy was to receive a daily dose of IV antibiotics over the course of a week,  then be reevaluated.

Dandy was an aged school horse whose rides were few and far between. His temperament only suited the most experienced riders. Because of this, he was never the first pick to be ridden. Most days, Dandy stood patiently in his mountainside paddock waiting for someone to give him attention. Due to a serious fly bite allergy, Dandy’s body was often scarred and bloody which contributed to his overall difficult and sad demeanor. Each day, I hiked up the mountain to give Dandy his medication. Although constantly busy juggling rides and lessons, I always carved out enough time to give Dandy more attention than just his required treatment. I would brush his rough coat, treat his fly bite allergies, then finish by giving him his IV injection. We bonded. But despite Dandy’s treatment, his condition worsened. It was decided, in Dandy’s best interest, that he be euthanized.

When the day arrived, I asked the farm owner if she wanted me to be the one to help him transition. After all, he trusted me. However, she chose to spare me the additional sadness. I knew I must say good-bye to this very brave horse.

I hiked to his mountainside stall dreading what was to come. Dandy looked defeated, but his eyes brightened as he saw me. I slipped my arms around his neck and told him how brave he was. That he would soon be young again with no pain, running across green pastures. And with that, I slipped out of his stall and his life forever.

An hour later I ran into the farm owner. Dandy had gone peacefully, but still, we both cried. I asked her if she was doing “okay.” She said she had been having a very hard time until Dandy “came” to her with a message. He thanked her. He told her he was young again running across green pastures. Shock washed over me to the point I had to sit down.

I was the ONLY person on that mountain when I spoke to Dandy that morning. I had told no one of my conversation with him. To this day, this remains one of the most powerful stories of animal communication I have ever experienced.

 

 

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