After a night of loud, explosive fireworks shot off just beyond the tree line of my horses' field, I breathed a sigh of relief after counting noses this morning to find that they were all present and unharmed. I'm sure all pet owners know that feeling--holding one's breath while the vet conducts his examination or opening the medical test results with a whispered prayer... Sometimes the news is a relief and you exhale that breath you didn't know you were holding. But other times, it's not.
I have fought a good fight. I've purchased a Haygain hay steamer, his stall is dust free, his food is weighed and I've done my best to get the weight off and improve fitness. Time will tell, but I'm not deluding myself---he could have to be put down if we can't get a handle on his problems. No pet owner wants to contemplate, let alone carry out, that task but it is our ultimate responsibility for each pet we take on. It never gets easier. Moreover, if you do have to take that step, as an owner, friend, and partner, you don't want it to be for financial reasons. Where horses are concerned, however, it sometimes is the case. I just don't want to look in Paddy's eye on that day and know that I could keep him alive if only I had a money tree. Believe me, I have taken the high road and done whatever was necessary in the past to prolong his life and keep hope afloat. I've nursed him through Potomac Fever, Equine Protozoal Myloencephalitis (EPM), and orthoscopic surgery before this latest affliction. Still. I wish I could wash my hands of this responsibility for life or death, but I can't. No owner can because they are depending on you to do what's right, no matter how hard it is.
Meanwhile, hope is still alive and I look for small signs of improvement. I take joy in every day I have him, whether he is rideable or not. I am eternally grateful for the past we shared, I do what has to be done one day at a time, and try not to worry too much by peering into the uncertain future.
The passing of a beloved animal is a powerful transition for those who are left to mourn. It is no wonder that some fragments of these experiences have found their way into my stories and therefore have provided some measure of eternity for those departed friends.