The Force of the Horse

For the Love of a Dog, Companion and Friend

An original story by R.T. Fitch

“It’s ‘Feel Good Sunday’ and I am going to do something different, today.  Instead of sharing something that someone else has written I have penned, for you, a few thoughts and feelings that crossed across my heart this very morning.  A true blog is supposed to be an online journal of the creators thoughts and plans but we use this as a sounding board for the causes and issues that engulf our American Equines both wild and domestic.  But today I wax a little emotional with an eye turned inward, not a bad thing to do to revitalize one’s heart and soul.  So today I share this moment in time and hope that the love and the glow reaches out through the words to touch your heart and brings you great joy.  Keep the faith, my friends.” ~ R.T.


Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Suzie ~ photo by Terry Fitch

I woke up rather differently this morning.  Only three days into attempting to pull myself backwards in time from living 13 hours ahead of U.S. Central time; the night had been sporadic and unsettled enough without my wife’s phone pinging an audible text message signal at 0523 hrs.

“Who would be texting her at this hour?”, my jet lagged brain attempted to deduce when it chimed again, followed by a ping.

I tried as I may to keep my eyes closed and my mind turned off when it happened yet a third time and when I heard the following ping I realized that the last tone was and had been coming from my phone recharging in the kitchen.

“Who would be texting both of us at this time of day?” I thought as I stood up from the bed and scooped up my clothing, flashlight and Big Max from their every ready state next to our bed.  (Yes, being a former volunteer fire fighter has taught me to be ready in an instant, even when you are asleep.)

I scrambled to the kitchen while pulling on pants, shirt and socks only to realize that I could not read the messages on the phone without my glasses, getting old is such a bitch.

Once I had the Coke bottle bottoms latched onto my face I could read that the messages had come from one of the barn’s internal surveillance cameras as movement within our closed up barn had activated it and there were no horses inside…this peaked my interest.

So I strapped Big Max onto my right hip, not for protection from critters but the two-legged kind, and put the torch in my left pocket while heading for the garage door only to almost trip over our geriatric German Shepherd, Suzie, sprawled out in front of the back door.  She struggled to stand when she spied me out of her last working eye; I could tell by her expression that she wanted to go out.  So I helped her up, as she has trouble standing, and opened the back door for her to go out.  I closed the door behind her and turned away as it pains me to watch her struggle to negotiate the three low steps that take her down to the patio, she is tough though.

I exited the house through the garages and opened up half the barn door with torch in hand.  Quickly flipping on the light switches I was greeted to a great big nothing, no one or no thing was there.

I entered and listened for any sort of sound and nothing came bouncing back to my ears.  Methodically I opened up each stall door and peered inside with the LED torch ablaze, nothing.  I looked up into the haylofts and walked over to the ladder, “A raccoon could be up there I thought”, so I pocketed the torch and headed up.

Once up I could clearly see the second hayloft and it was clear, I could look down into all of the stalls and nothing stirring.  Likewise I surveyed the storage area over the tack room and the bales of hay in the loft itself and not a creature was stirring, not even a rat.

Hmmm, something must have triggered the camera but it was obviously not inside anymore so I carried my search outside to the parameter of the barn.  Nothing to the north, east or south but down in the western pasture the eyes of the grazing horses and deer reflected back to me as did two rabbits nibbling grass in the backyard.

False alarm, so I retraced my steps down the barn’s drive, across the driveway and into the garages and back into the house where I knew a hot cup of tea would help clear away the cobwebs of jet lag, as it always did.

But once wide awake with a steaming hot cup of hand carried Chinese Ginseng tea in hand I noted yet another alert coming across my phone, a weather warning.  It seemed that a narrow band of thunderstorms was bearing down on us from the northwest so instead of making a detour into my home office to work on a morning installation for the blog I headed back out the garage door to sit and watch the natural fireworks in the darkness of the early morning.  It would be refreshing and rejuvenating.

So I sat under the west garage’s porch as I sipped my tea and listened to the distant rumble of the storm; suddenly my chair nudged from behind.  It was Suzie, she had finally made her way around from the back and was coming to the garages to see if any of her people were about, and they were…I was there.

I looked down at her and scratched her graying chin, she closed her eyes and instead of gracefully lying down next to me she did the only thing she can now do to recline, she fell with a thud.  Riddled with arthritis she cannot bend like she used to so she just falls and each time she does it I become a little shaken.  But she does not cry, whimper or complain; it just is.

I have talked with Terry about releasing her, about allowing her to transcend her aging and crippled body but Terry claims that she has not asked nor is she ready.  We must be patient and help her whenever we can; she deserves that much respect.

But I see her fail more each time I am away and then return, so much so that I said my heartfelt goodbyes before I left last month as I was certain that she would not be here upon my return, she proved me wrong.

As the breeze began to freshen and the petals from the Bradford Pear tree blossoms fell on us like snow I looked into her one seeing eye and listened, I tried to shut my mind off so I could hear her and to my dismay I found that my brain would not stop talking and continued to yapp away about her condition.

I looked away as the first drops of the storm began to fall and noted that both of us were a little too close to the edge of the roof line to be fully protected from the rain.  I stood up to move my chair back and Suzie took that as a cue to move, too.  She sat up on her front two legs and paused, I saw her hesitate and then she looked right into my heart and said, “Help me”.

I did; I hugged my arms around her and gently slid her back to my chair so that she would not have to go through the effort of trying to stand up, move and then fall down again.  I just placed her next to me and we both watched the rain.

As the rain fell I softly laid my left hand on her head and gently rubbed her ancient brow as my heart felt yet another hole beginning to form as a piece of me was beginning to dissolve.  It hurt, the knowing of impending loss yet there was a glow under my hand as I softly rubbed her ears as she looked out upon the storm.

I listened over the thunder, wind and rain and I could hear a faint sound of warmth, a feeling of love and a musical note that came not to my heart but instead to my soul.  I listened without my ears and I could hear Suzie humming, not loudly but contently and with great love.

I looked down at her as she looked up to me and I swear that she smiled as I heard her say, “Not today, but soon.  I love you.”

It was not a raindrop but a tear from me that landed between her paws and with her tongue outstretched she gently licked it up and kissed my hand.

We smiled and then turned to the storm.

“Not today,” I sighed.

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25 replies »

  1. I have an Aussie who turned 14 last Monday. I help him get up and down a lot. Sometimes he doesn’t seem to understand what’s happening to him.


  2. I am sure many people understand and having had “those moments” with many four-legged freinds … I certainly do.


  3. Thanks for this post, RT – am dealing with the same situation with an elder Queensland who has been with me through thick and thin the last 15 years, eyesight and hearing going (use to be selective, now it’s real), slowing down and growing tumors on each side of his ribcage (vet says no surgery required at this age – just keep him happy and confortable). I keep drawing lines in the dirt: a)when he can’t get in the cab of the pickup anymore (so far so good – he sails up to the seat or hits the floorboard under steering wheel – but still makes it in with no problem), b) can’t make it up on the bed at night (THAT happened for the first time last night!), c) when he can’t keep up with the other dogs,( no problem there!) d) lack of appetite (still considers anything that is edible fair game!). Knowing there are “no accidents in the Universe” I just wanted to tell you how “perfect” this Sunday post was for me this morning – and thank you for the reminder that he will let me know when he’s done. I just need to appreciate every moment we have together and KNOW that he will always be with me whether we’re in bodies or not. Blessed Be!


  4. Very well said. We all come from the same cloth. The love we share with all beings will always be as sweet and true as you said here. I deeply appreciate you sharing this moment so poignantly.


  5. My 16 yr. old “shadow” is lying at my feet right now. I’ve noticed recently that our combined pace while walking is relative to the pace of our aging but we’ve never walked more than two feet apart, in fact, sometimes lately I find myself walking behind her and I think, “if I’m walking this good at 96 yrs. of age it will be because of her” and then I have that fleeting feeling that she will walk with me forever.


  6. What you express in this post is what binds the advocates…respect, patience and certainly love.

    To Suzi and her companions and all the ones that have crossed my path, thank you for reminding me of what is truly important in my short life in this world..


  7. Thanks for including a photo of Suzie. She looks good.

    I’ve had many, many dogs in my life. They always tell you when its “time.” I usually keep an extra eye on them when they stop eating.


  8. Yes, John, it does hurt as a part of your heart goes with each loss. It never gets any easier but we’ll all be together again when we cross the Rainbow Bridge. Enjoy Suzie today.


    • OOPS, Sorry, R.T. getting names wrong in my old age–it really sucks.
      Yes, it does hurt as a part of your heart goes with each loss. It never gets any easier but we’ll all be together again when we cross the Rainbow Bridge. Enjoy Suzie today.


  9. Made me shed a few tears. 😦 I hate when our furry family members reach that stage in their lives…its heartbreaking…I kno just how u feel. Ive had many dogs that have gone & each one has left me crying like a banshee. Give her a kiss 4 me


  10. This story tears at the heartstrings. My Zeke is 14 years of age. Old age problems. He still gets around pretty well. Seeing our beloved pets decline, is tough. Indeed, when they are ready, they will let us know. Meanwhile, just enjoy the time which is remaining. Their spirits are with us forever. Thank you, R.


  11. i really love your words because of my mr. moose (my chihuahua) he has been with me for 11 years and some., he is bossy ,and spoiled rotten ,but i am so proud of him because together we mastered sit ,down ,search, go say hi, go back,housebreaking and i love you. he slept in bed with me for nine years before surgery for cancer kicked him out into his own space but i sure miss that closeness . just a couple of weeks ago my sister had to be hospitalized because she couldn’t pee. she was then told she has stage 3b cervical cancer , she came home with wires connected to her back and had to pee into bags cause the cancer had blocked the tube from kidneys to the bladder. just 3 days ago a stent was inserted into the bladder tube so she can now pee without the bags. we are still waiting for the appt. with onc.dr. to see what plan of action we are going to take . so my friend your words are going to stay with me for awhile. love ya thank-you.


  12. RT – have been there for so many times – right now my Suzy Q is only 6 so hopefully I have years before I have to make that decision. I know people (not close friends) who refuse to get another cat or dog because they cant stand to lose them. I feel sorry for them – they lose out on all those years of love & caring that all of us (here) get from our “kids”. How anyone could exist without having animals is way beyond my comprehension.


  13. I hear ya. I have gone through 2 horses, 2 shelties and now a cat, actually, 2 cats. it is never easy. We, who do love our animals treat them like our children. They are a great part of our heart and soul. We always say no more animals, but what do we do. Yep, I got another, she was not treated very good. some breeders should not have animals either. And we can’t rescue all of them. We do the best we can with what we have. Take Care & Best To You and Yours.


  14. There are times that i believe the hardest part of being a loving human is that we are destined to outlive our beloved animal friends. I lost count long ago and find two problems accost me. When I lay partly awake and partly asleep, I find myself remembering those who have gone before me, and when wide awake, I wonder should I, at my age, take on one more.

    And so I say affirmations for those gone before me, love those still with me, and remind myself that to be without me some future day is better than dead today. Yes, I will adopt another and another. Thanks for the reminder that we love and lose and it is worth it.


    • Elaine – I lay there at night & do the same – the long list of horses, many dogs, cats, rabbits, several ducks (yes, I loved them too) banty chickens. on & on. But hope I never have to live long enough that I’m not able to have any of them with me. Right now, we are down to a dog and a cat. Yes it IS worth it!


  15. I couldnt reply to this yesterday, because I understand it to tears. Before my horse, my.5 yr old sons prized friend, passed on that hum you speak of was always there, and for a brief moment one night, it wasnt. So I said in a moment of frustration and anger, withhot tears running down cheeks You, horse Are NOT.allowed to leave me, he (God) cant take yo, not yet. As if I could stop his death by demanding he stay, he propped his head on my shoulder and in the dark blew out loudly severa l breathes pulling my into his once strong neck. I heard him say, not tonight, I have a little time left. I wept, sobbed and then my fiance slips up and says not yet, not tonight. I said yeah, he said why did you say that? I didnt say it, he had heard the horse as i had.


  16. Thank you Mr Fitch for sharing such a moving story but most of all showing and sharing that while there are men who many times do so much harm to animals there many more men, who have such compassion and express such tenderness

    I know there are many, many more men , than those who are cruel, who exist in our world, who are whole compassionate human beings first and foremost,, For this blessing and for you I give my prayers of gratitude and thanks

    I am so truly happy to know how much your Suzie is cherished and loved

    . I wish with all my heart our precious animal friends lived lives as long as ours The only thing I can be thankful for is that in time and when its right the grief in out heart at losing a precious animal companion can make the room for other furry soul to be with us . There are NEVER replacement but a new animal soul can-bring our joy back again in his or her own special and unique way

    Thank you so much for all do for our beloved horses, everywhere


  17. I believe that animals are some of our greatest teachers on this Earth, for those who are willing to listen. Everyone here understands that.
    I think this excerpt says it so well and it applies to ALL animals.
    Dr. Roslyn Berne wrote is really smart–she has three degrees and is an expert in nanotechology. Then she heard a horse whisper to her–and her life began going in yet another direction.

    WHEN THE HORSES WHISPER shows the capacity of horses to help us heal the human heart. It expresses When-the-Horses-Whisper in human language what horses have to say when given the chance to speak.

    It is a story about the bond between horse and human, and the communication made possible when the bond is based on love. Conversations with fifteen horses, most of whom live and work in Costa Rica, are featured along with their photographs, capturing them as individual beings in service to humans on a shared evolutionary journey.

    This journey amounts to the re-membering of our whole selves in the wholeness of creation, especially the parts we split off, deny, and place in shadow because they are too painful. Horses, as the book shows, can help us see these lost parts, and call forth our courage to reclaim them.


  18. I loved this story! To really quiet our soul and listen to theirs is such a gift! Please remember, each one becomes a part of our heart. So, it is not a hole that forms in our heart, but a piece of our heart that becomes a part of those we love. Animal or human. They are forever with us.


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