Saying Goodbye

It’s been a tough week. Fix was injured a week ago, a puncture wound that apparently went all the way to the shoulder joint. We have no idea how it happened. We’ve checked the fenceline and everything in their paddock, and we cannot find a source for the injury. These things just happen sometimes.  After several days of antibiotics and pain medications and cleaning the wound, he was still not improving, so the vet came back out and performed an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed that Fix had infection in the joint, and there wasn’t anything really to be done for it on the farm.  Taking him elsewhere for a procedure would have not only been extremely costly but also very painful for him to travel.  We allowed several more days for the antibiotics to work, but we didn’t see any improvement.

Yesterday we let Fix out of his stall to eat and stretch his legs, and he slowly wandered down to the gate of the paddock where he used to stay.  He started pushing on the gate with his nose, clearly letting us know that he wanted to go in and hang out with his friends.  Though it was very taxing for him to walk on three legs, he went out to graze with his buddies.  After a while, he laid down because he was in so much pain.  After several hours, he was still not getting up, so the vet instructed me to administer another dose of pain medication.  After 4 or 5 hours, he finally got up, but by that time the sun was not shining, and he was wet and shivering from laying in the snow. Although he was standing, he was in a great deal of pain to walk, and we had quite a ways to go to get back to the barn.  I haltered him and  urged him forward. He took several painful steps by sitting back on his haunches and hopping forward on his good leg. Then he stopped to rest. I patted his neck and face and encouraged him to take some more steps. I pulled on the lead rope gently at first and then with more and more force, but he would not move. The pain was too great. Tears began rolling down my face as I begged him to take a few more steps toward the warmth and comfort of the barn. Still no progress. He just couldn’t get up the strength to take another step.

Then something amazing happened. Solomon, a big bay 10 year old rescued race horse, came over to help. He sniffed Fix and realizing that there was a problem started to gently nudge Fix’s hind end with his nose. Fix came forward another couple of steps. We rested for a few minutes. As I started tugging on the lead rope again to no avail, Solomon reapplied light pressure from behind with his nose. This happened two or three more times, Solomon offering the support and encouragement needed until we were through the gate and up by the barn. We were able to get his blanket on him and give him a warm mash with apples and carrots and put him in his stall for the night.

I will always have a special appreciation in my heart for Solomon, for his persistent but gentle assistance. He demonstrated such love and concern when his friend was in need. I wonder if we do that for each other?

The incredibly difficult decision was made to have Fix put down. This morning Fix breathed his last breath. We cried with him and thanked him repeatedly for his amazing service to all of us at Haven Acres.  He knew he was dearly loved here, and he served out his days well, always with a willing, patient, and gentle spirit.  Many people were greatly impacted by him, and we will be forever thankful for the time we had him at Haven Acres. He will always live on in our hearts.

“A friend loves at all times.” –Proverbs 17:17