This blog is not about horses per se. But it is about all the animals who enrich our lives. I am “mom” to 2 horses, 5 dogs, and 2 cats. On any given day, I’m doctoring at least a couple of them.
Swollen eyes & missing hair
The other morning I headed to the barn to do horse chores and found Kadeen’s eyes red, swollen, and draining. I hadn’t gotten his fly mask on as soon as I should have and he had mild bilateral conjunctivitis. I started treating him (I hate putting medication in a horse’s eye!) and then went to feed the cats. Ben’s hair was once again all over my barn, as he has some kind of allergic reaction going on. This is the second summer in my new place and the second summer he has had this problem…. Never before. So he got a second shot of steroids to get him to quit tearing his hair out.
I can’t halt the aging process
And then there’s Reilly…Reilly is my 14-year-old Border collie. I dearly love all my dogs but Reilly…. Reilly is THE dog. I raised her from a pup while the others came as adult rescues. She is the dog of a lifetime. She has been with me through so many things. We have weathered the loss of my parents, divorce, subsequent relationships, building a home and living like a nomad.
In addition to having a veterinary degree, I really need a pharmacology degree when I feed (and medicate) her on a daily basis. She’s held together with bubble gum and bailing twine and a plethora of medications. In spite of everything I have tried, I still can’t halt the aging process.
She’s epileptic, but unlike epilepsy in most Border collies, her condition isn’t that severe. She has maybe one seizure a year, and they are short with a very brief “post ictal” (post-seizure) phase. I haven’t had to medicate her for them.
A disturbing turn of events
Two days ago, she was sleeping in my office at work as usual. As I blew in and out of the office, I saw nothing amiss. As we left to go to lunch, I realized she was quite wobbly. I assumed she had had a seizure, although I hadn’t seen it. An hour later, her condition was unchanged, which was unusual and disturbing.
Now, 48 hours later, she’s still wobbly. I’m scared. This is not likely a seizure issue. I worry about what else might be going on in her head. As much as I have tried to prepare for this eventuality, I am far from prepared.
My boyfriend has been riding Kadeen, my steady-eddy Arab, and I have been working with Finn. (He’s stalled right now awaiting the farrier and he’s kicking the stall walls like an idiot.) I miss riding Kadeen, but I love that he takes such good care of Alan. But I still hang out with Kadeen and enjoy his company, as I have a relationship with that horse, unlike any other relationship I have had with previous horses. I tell folks he’s my “Border collie in the barn”.
A tragic accident
A friend of mine lost a beautiful foal last week to a freak accident. She had bonded with the little filly more than any other foal she had born on her property. My friend was devastated, and told me she wanted to wrap everything and everyone she loves in bubble wrap. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. She knows, as I do, that loss is part of the gain we get from having animals in our lives.
I have heard it said that however deep your love goes, that’s how deep the pain goes when you lose the ones you love. In other words, the lows go as low as the highs go high. Emotionally “flat” people don’t feel loss, but they don’t feel love either. I have had many folks tell me they won’t have animals because they can’t stand the part where you lose them. How sad is that, because they miss so much of the positive of doing life with dogs, cats, and horses.
As a veterinarian, I have been on both sides of the table… the owner who loves her animals immensely, and the veterinarian tasked with educating clients and helping them navigate life as furbaby parents. I love animals and I love people, so it is not possible for me to not get emotionally involved in the lives and challenges of my patients and their people. Many times I cry with them when we have to make tough decisions. I know that tough decisions are ahead for me and I am already crying. But to not have experienced the joy and love and pleasure… and memories… that come with sharing life with animals, that would be an even greater loss.
Hug your dogs, your cats, your horses…. For they are so precious and amazing