Guest Editorial by Faith Bjalobok, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Duquesne University, Fellow of Oxford Center for Animal Advocacy
The Force of the Horse Binds the Human Soul
Last night I lost my 43 year old friend and horse, Dusty Rose. I had rescued Dusty Rose about 13 years ago in response to a call for a home for a 30 year old blind Arab Morgan cross whose first rescuer had died of cancer. Dusty Rose was not only blind but she could be as mean as hell. Over the years she inflicted numerous bodily injuries on me including a fractured wrist. Once when I was on crutches she knocked me down and walked over me but we were friends and I grew to love the cantankerous old lady.
Over the last several years Dusty Rose had begun to drop weight and despite all my efforts I could not put weight on her. Then last Thursday when a friend came by to check in on the horses while I was at work, she found Dusty Rose down in her stall. Fortunately, the blacksmith was coming to trim and he was able to help get her up.
Dusty was fine until I came to feed last night and found her down in her stall. I tried in vain to get her up. I became extremely upset because I am experienced in getting horses up by myself as I had done it for 5 years for my arthritic quarter horse. I called my friend and she along with her daughter and a gentleman that I met at the cat spay neuter clinic several days before came to help me. We tried but our efforts were also in vain.
I decided to call 911 and even though I am familiar with our county’s LART (large animal response team) I never expected the amount of help that I would receive. Two area fire companies arrived on the scene in a short period of time followed by another fire company that makes up the LART for our county along with the LART director and my vet.
Dusty Rose was quickly evaluated and we all agreed that the situation was bleak but that she deserved a chance. The vet administered warm fluids and vitamins while the LART members coordinated their plans to lift her. The firemen that lifted Dusty Rose up did so with kindness and compassion. The approximately 13 adults in the barn cheered when Dusty Rose stood with assistance and was able to eliminate her urine. Unfortunately it became clear rather quickly that Dusty Rose was not going to be able to stand on her own and that her vital signs were weakening. While the firemen held her up, my vet called me aside to discuss the situation and what she believed was in the best interest of Dusty Rose. I agreed that the time for euthanasia had arrived. The firemen ever so gently lowered Dusty Rose and propped her up with hay bales. They expressed their sympathy and the leader asked if it was okay to send them home. I said yes.
My vet sat on the hay bales and talked with me as I held Dusty Rose’s head and then she administered the euthanasia. Dusty Rose died in peace surrounded by people who loved and cared for her in her stall in a clean dry barn. I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend. However, I am grateful that Dusty Rose never had to experience the pain and suffering associated with horse slaughter; the feelings of fear and abandonment. Last night my friends, the firemen and my vet restored my faith in humanity. They had all answered my call to help an ageing equine leave this earth in peace. I will bury Dusty Rose in the horse cemetery and place a marker on her grave. I will miss my friend but I will remain forever grateful to those kind and compassionate individuals who took the time to care about an old horse named Dusty Rose.
You have touched us, Faith, through your words. In return, our verbaige may be weak but the passion and love that drives it wishes you peace, serinity and thanks for all that you have done and for all that you are. Rest easy as you well deserve the quiet solitude of knowing that you gave so much joy to one who’s live was forever touched.
Thank you for sharing, Faith.
Categories: The Force of the Horse