Thursday, July 15, 2010

I wish I saw what others may see

I know I should probably just have him put down. But Rugby is still here. Yes, they did administer Banamine yesterday afternoon and when I got to the barn last night, he was standing, walked out of his stall with me and down to the grass and hand grazed happily for about 40 minutes. But then when I put him back in the stall, he stood and I could see by the way he became very quiet with his ears slightly back and how he kept shifting his feet that his insides were bothering him again.

I expected a call this morning that he didn't make it through the night. But he did and was out in his turn out paddock at 9:00AM today. I walked down to see him and put his fly mask on as the small gnats were annoying the poor guy. When I work around him and interact with him, he still wants to interact with me. I can obviously see and feel he's not well but I don't feel that will to live is gone. But is he really living now or just existing? God, I don't know.

I contacted the woman with the farm in upstate NY and she has agreed to take him and keep him in her small quarantine pasture with a shed and watch him. I trust this person completely with his care but I'm having difficulty in saying it's a done deal as it will require a long trailering to get him there. Even though I will hire a trailering service to ship him in a box stall gooseneck so he has some comfort level, I don't know if he can handle it at this point. What happens if he colics and dies on the trailer? How horrible for him and what will it cost me to have the trailering service handle that?

I don't want to be ungrateful to her but I am also reaching out to people I trust here and seeing if there's something for him closer to home.

Should I even do this at all? Would it be more peaceful to end it for him here, in familiar surroundings with people he knows? Or do I take the chance and send him away, not feeling well, into a strange new situation, however kind and safe? Am I only hanging on because I have run up HUGE vet bills for my budget and if I lose him I have NOTHING. I have no savings to try and find a new horse but debt that still must be paid. Will I ever be able to own a riding horse again?

Every time I think I can let go, he shows just a little more heart, and acts a little like himself and then I'm torn apart again. Even though I've had to have my past two horses put down, I just KNEW that they had come to the time to let them go. Both circumstances told me immediately my only option. And though it hurt, I was at peace with my decision. I have no clarity, no answers and no peace.


lookielou said...

When I had to make the decision for Lookie, I wanted him to go surrounded by his family and surroundings he knew. I thought about him going a clinic or the hospital, but I was worried about the same thing. I gave him the peace he deserved. I wish I had had many many more years with Lookie, but I have to find solace in knowing that I gave him peace. It was the HARDEST decision I have EVER had to make and not an easy one.

Rachel said...

I have no advice and no words of wisdom.
But I know that your heart is open and I can only hope that the right answer will come to you.
Rugby will know, whatever you choose, that you had his very best interests at heart.

I am so sorry you are faced with this. No one deserves it.

But, grief is the price we pay for love.

thoughts and hugs going out to you as you go through this time.

Mare said...

It's funny, I posted about this very thing the other day; not because I'm in your situation, but because it's my greatest fear that I will someday be...

I don't think there is a "wrong" answer. You're in a very tough position, but only you know your horse. You know how he likes to live and what makes him happy. You also know what makes him unhappy. If you look at YOUR horse and still that sparkle in his eye, a desire to truly live and to fight, then I think you have your answer. If there comes a time where you see him without that fight, I think you'll also know.

Only you know YOUR horse. So you have to be the one in control and decide what's best for him. There's really no wrong answer, I suppose, only a right one...Good luck...

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to even suggest anything at all as I'm sure that you and your veterinarians have tried everything - but if his good gut bacteria have been devastated, either by some unknown illness and/or the various treatments that have been tried, he's probably unable to absorb nutrients, hence the emaciation. I'm assuming you've tested all the endocrine things, including thyroid - I've seen horses with severe weight loss come back after thyroid supplementation - sometimes in horses low thyroid manifests as weight loss, apathy and pain.

And here's a real off the wall thought - there was an article in the NYT a few days ago about a gastroenterologist who has successively treated a woman with a severe gastrointestinal infection that devastated her gut flora by reinoculating her with bacteria from a healthy person. The treatment produced an amazing turnaround in her condition almost instantly. I'll search out the link and add it in a separate comment.

Finally - if and when it's time, he'll tell you so and you'll know that he means it.

Off to search out article - back in a moment with the link.

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to the article:

Promise said...

I feel like if you were truly at peace with your decision, it would be difficult, but you would stick with it. You see something in him still that you cannot explain, and maybe even the vets don't see it, because they don't know him as well.

If you see a spark in him, follow your gut. You will do the right thing for you, and for him. He will let you know when it's time.

Leslie Sealey said...

I am praying that you get your miracle. It sounds like Rugby still has some fight in him and I think you are doing the right thing by giving him a chance. This is all so hard and so unfair; I really feel for you. Sending best wishes and prayers...

Anonymous said...

One other thing - I sure hope you don't take the comments I left as meaning that I think you haven't investigated every possible thing already - you are a shining example of good horse care for all of us. I wake up in the night and worry about you and your boy, wracking my brains for ideas - not that there's anything I can do at this distance. What I wrote in the comments was all I could come up with, however far-fetched. Sending best wishes and hopes to both of you.

Once Upon an Equine said...

My heart just aches for you and Rugby. What a maddening thing this strange illness has been. That is an interesting option to send him to the farm upstate. I hope he is strong enough to make the trip; it sounds like he is a fighter. You are too. You both have been very strong. I wish you peace with either direction you take.

OnTheBit said...

I think the fact that you are unwilling to put him down says a lot about what is going on. If you are worried it is the wrong decision there must be a reason for that. I wish we lived closer because I know that we would take him in at Gen's barn and love him and let him be out and see what would happen. I agree that a several hour trailer ride is probably going to be a lot on him right now... but I am also getting that your friend upstate is letting you keep him there for free so it sounds like a pretty viable option to me. You know that the old horsemans saying is to put a horse out for a year and see if they make it when you can't decide to put them down or not. If you are worried about shippers... and see if JayCee could haul him for you. Not sure about the price, but JayCee is a total horse person through and through and she would be able to handle anything that happened on the road with grace and love. Gary (the owner of the company) is good too, but I know JayCee and if I was worried about Gen not making a trip and couldn't haul him myself she would be the one I called.

I know you are waiting for Rugby to tell you when he has had enough. He is clearly showing that he is not going to do that though.

If all decisions in life were easy then it wouldn't be life.

I am sure being in limbo is the worst part of all this. I will pray for nothing more than for you to get clarity about what to do.

Oh and just out of there any other reason you are hanging on besides his personality? Any medical reason you still have hope? That sounds harsh, but what I mean is...if he was your friends horse and not yours, what would you be telling her to do?

Pinzgauer said...

I am so sorry to hear that you're having so many problems. I wish a few words could make it better, and fix everything.

It's never an easy decision to make. Having recently lost a mare myself, you have my greatest sympathy.

Trust your gut. If you think that Rugby is still fighting, then there's nothing wrong with fighting along side him, no matter what any one else thinks! There's also nothing wrong in acknowledging that either you or he have reached your realistic limits, and giving him dignity in the end. Only you know your horse, and only you can make that decision.

I will keep you in my thoughts, and hope for the best outcome for both of you.

I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

CTG Ponies said...

You have to do what your gut tells you to do. It's so difficult but it seems like he knows that you're trying for him and that's what counts.

Jean said...

I truly believe our animals tell us when it is time to let go. It sounds as if you are well in tune with Rugby and will always do what is best for him.

I am sending you my love, support and prayers once more. Wish there were more I could do.

Miles On Miles said...

I'm so very sorry. You may not have what you need right now, but you will, no matter what happens and what you decide. Your love for your dear Rugby comes through loud and clear in your words, so no matter what you decide you will make the right choice for both of you. s
Peace to you both~

Breathe said...

I do believe you'll know when it's time, but sometimes love stretches it.

I hope still for a miracle.

Jooles said...

I'm so sorry to hear of Rugby's illness. My feeling is that you will know when the time is right. If it does come to the end and you have to make that difficult decision, you will know that you have given everything and done your very best for Rugby. My heart goes out to you at this difficult time.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm sorry to hear about Rugby's illness. Obviously, I'm not a vet and can't begin to know what all his symptoms mean, but I have one question that you might want to ask your vet. Has he been tested for Lyme's. We have had a lot of horses afflicted with this disease. And although it's easily treated, some vets don't think of this simple test. I can tell you that it wreaks havoc with their systems. It sometimes affects horses in different ways, so before you make a final decision, if he hasn't had a Lyme titer, you might want to look into this option.

Best wishes for a miracle with Rugby.

Jennifer said...

I have been reading your blog and wanted to say that I am very sorry about Rugby and the illness that has taken such a toll on both of you.

There is a Spanish saying about lost love, "It takes one nail to remove another". Perhaps in due time, you will make room in your heart and the love for another won't replace Rugby, but it will ease the pain and honor his memory.

God Bless you both.