Sunday, March 14, 2010
Only The Good Die Young
My sister Naomi and her friend Daniel have been helping me with schooling and riding the horses recently. Naomi has been working with Major on his canter transitions, and Daniel has been riding my Perch/Tb cross mare that will be turning 6 in a few weeks. It was she and Daniel who found Major that afternoon. At that point he was standing, but clearly not right. She called me, I called our vet's office, and Kevin and I headed right over. The vet got there within 30 minutes and by that time he had collapsed in his stall. She examined him, gave him pain meds, determined he was not impacted, and tubed him. This was about 3 PM. He was also dehydrated, and she heard a heart murmur.
He was up and down all evening, drank some water, nibbled on some hay; etc. We were hopeful for a few hours that he was going to pull through and make it.
By 9 pm, he was not better, and a sickening dread had begun to fill me. He should have been getting better by now.
By 10 mp he was worse. Kevin gave him a second dose of Banamine, and we waited.
He started groaning, trying to thrash about, and was sweating. At 11pm Kevin said "Call Paul." (Paul is our regular vet. The vet from earlier was Paul's associate.)
"I can't do it," I said. "You call."
Paul got there shortly before midnight. I was so thankful that it was Paul on call that night. I have known Paul since he first got out of vet school and came to this area to practice. He is just a few years older than me, and we've always been friends. We've been through some dooseys together with horses. (One time, he did send me with a horse (belonging to a friend who was out of town) to Sate; she came through the surgery, and fell over dead the next day.) He is honest, funny, brilliant, good with horses, explains everything to you so you know just what is going on, sympathetic, practical - the perfect vet. Much of the time, I call him on his cell, say "This is what is going on", and he can walk me through a treatment on the phone. But not this time - this time, we really needed him.
He checked him over: guts, gums, heart rate. He slowly stood up.
"He's not good," he said. "More than likely he is twisted, and at this point I don't even know if he'd survive the trip to NC State, or the surgery."
"Surgery isn't and option for us," I said. "We just can't afford it." (With Kevin out of work, the $8000 - $10000 or more bills would sink us.)
"Well, I could give him a more powerful pain drug....."
"Why?" I asked. "What good is it going to do him?"
"Right. If I did it, it would buy him a few more hours; but..."
"NO. No, I can't do that to him.... I can't sit here and watch him suffer for another hour,"
"No; that is not right."
He paused, and then said the words I had been dreading and knowing were coming all along:
"Well.... do you just want to put him down, then?"
Kevin and I nodded. Kevin went to the tack room, weeping.
Daniel knelt by Major's head, soothing him.
Paul went to the truck for the fatal dose.
I thought about retreating to the feed room and avoiding the whole scene. Then I decided I owed it to my boy to be there until his last seconds.
Paul Came back from the truck and stood next to me. "Are you ready?" he asked, quietly. I nodded.
I had to turn away as he put the needles in Major; then I went to his side. Kevin came out and stood with Paul in the cold and the silence.
Major took three deep breaths, and lay still. I thought he was dead. Then I reached and touched his face, and he took on last shuttering breath.... and was gone.
It was exactly midnight.