Friday, January 09, 2009
For the past few weeks, our injured horse has been getting worse and worse. Today, we made the difficult decision to put him out of his misery. I know it was the humane thing to do, but it doesn't make it any easier. I feel like I let him down. We tried about everything we could within reason. We could have continued to try, using more and more sophisticated and expensive treatments, but the bottom line would have been the same; a lame horse in constant pain.
We agonized over this decision. Although we had only owned this horse for less than a year, he had proven himself as an exceptional horse. Anyone could ride him and he could handle anything we ever asked of him. Everyone loved him, and most wished he belonged to them. Even the Vet had a hard time putting him down. In the end, we all agreed that it was what was best for him.
I knew it was the right thing as I lead him out of the vet's stall to the area out back. He limped painfully along, even though he was doped up on the maximum amount of pain killers. He followed me faithfully. I think he knew where he was going, and was glad to see and end to the pain; at least I hope so. We arrived at the spot where he would be put down and he turned around stood there waiting. The vet, his assistant, a close friend of mine and myself stood there for a few minutes in the softly falling snow. His warm breath billowed out of nose in quiet clouds. He looked at me with soft eyes as I rubbed between his ears and along his face. I quietly thanked him for being such a good horse and gave him a few of his favorite horse treats. I rubbed his warm and powerful neck as I appologized for what we were about to do. I tried to tell him that we tried everything to get him better, but we just couldn't find a solution to his pain. I knew he wouldn't want to live his life in pain and restricted to a small pasture, unable to run.
He just looked at me as the vet administered the fatal dose. I'll spare everyone the details of putting down a horse, but it isn't a pretty thing. Thankfully, the vet told me that the brain shuts down almost immediately, so there is little chance he felt anything. God I hope so.
After the vet checked and told me there was no pulse, I knelt in the snow and rubbed his still warm cheek and neck for several minutes. Gently talking to him, and asking God to take care of him. I'm sure there are horses in Heaven. The snow continued to gently fall. I noticed a few flakes landing on his eye and knew he was really gone and free of the pain. I still held onto my composure.
As I got up and turned to thank the vet for doing all he had, his assistant handed me the halter. My throat suddenly became tight and my eyes started to fill. I had a difficult time forming the words to thank the vet, but I did. I shook his hand and the hand of my friend, thanking them both. We said our goodbyes they left quietly, leaving me alone with my friend.
After a few minutes and another prayer, I turned away and walked through the quietly falling snow, the only sounds were my boots crunching and my sniffing. I got into my truck and called my wife to let her know it was over. Afterwards, I sat in the darkend truck and cried quietly by myself.
Goodbye my friend, may you find endless green pastures.