Thursday, February 28, 2013

I did not need to hear this

Saw an orthopedist today for persistent hip pain and got the verdict I was afraid I’d hear:

I need a total hip replacement.

Oh, it doesn’t have to be right away; I can put it off till I just can’t live with the discomfort and restrictions any more. But, having looked at the x-ray and seen the wear-and-tear damage to the joint for myself, it’s a matter of when, not if.

Crap. I did not need to hear that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Commander: Reminiscences

Commander came to me in November 2009. His then owner, Rick, had fought him through his first battle with founder, had won the gallant Morgan back to soundness, but wanted to ride more aggressively than he felt would be fair to Commander. So when our paths chanced to cross and I learned the Mighty Morgan needed a new home; when Rick saw the home I could offer, and the large amiable Thoroughbred Commander could be buddies with, we struck a simple deal: Commander became my horse "for one dollar in hand and other valuable consideration." That consideration was a loving lifelong home where Rick was welcome to come visit whenever he wished.

It was a good deal for all concerned, and for a year and a half, till the founder struck again, it was unalloyed fun. Even during the roller coaster ride of the disease there were long stretches of good times. The bad times expanded; the good times dwindled; but Commander never lost his inner fire, nor the love of those who knew him.

I kept Rick informed about Commander's health, of course, and Rick visited as often as he could, always offering me moral support and trust in my judgment for Commander's care. On Sunday, when it became apparent that this was likely to be the end, Rick came to see his old friend for the last time and say goodbye. He chose not to be present for the euthanasia, a decision I respected and concurred with.

When it was over I called Rick, as he'd requested, got his voicemail, and said what had to be said; later that day sent him the death notice email, the text of which is this blog's preceding post; and in the evening received the reply below, published here with his consent.

Truly, Commander was well loved.



I was thinking about Commander, as I often do, today a little after 10:00am. Somehow I knew he was gone. The phone never rang, but about 11:20am I noticed a voicemail on my phone. I listened with some trepidation, and when I heard your sad voice it was confirmed. It's sad to say goodbye to an old friend. For me, he will always be that one great horse! He was not for everyone, but he was perfect for me. I always felt I could ride that horse safely through anything, and I did, although, many would question my judgement at times :o)! But he would always go willingly. I have had him in water up to his back, and one time I turned him into a submarine when I misjudged how deep the river was. We stepped in and his head disappeared under the water. I suppose that is why I would let him get away with ground shenanigans that most horse owners frown on. Frankly, I liked it and he knew it because we had a relationship and an understanding. Although he could be a handful for some adults, he carried on his back evryone from inexperienced riders to young children. He would be gentle as a kitten with those who were most delicate. He was so kind and gentle to a little boy with down syndrome that lived next door, and I saw him with his muzzle gently move a baby kitten back and to the side when it wandered into his hay pile. Then there was the day Carol tried to take his mare, and he chased her onto a manure pile and kept her there! He knew the difference. Part of what I loved about him was also what frustrated me about him...he was so smart. He needed to be busy with something. Even my last visit with him, he was so "Commander" as I entered the barn he was gazing out the window. Not one other horse was interested in the wild weather out side, but Commander always enjoyed a view.

Commander had a few owners, and bounced around a bit in his youth, but he found two people that would love and understand him. I was the right person for many years, but Commander hit the jackpot when he found you. I have to tell you that my heart always felt good about Commander going to you. You gave him the best care, love and respect. Like I said, he was not a horse for just anyone, but you were without a doubt, the right person for him. Like I said, Commander is probably the smartest horse we will ever know, and he was a good judge of character. You are a wonderful person and you gave him a wonderful life. Being there when he needed you most and making a very tough decision are just recent examples of your great care. He will be missed. Every time we open our hearts to great love, we also open our hearts to great sadness....but it is always worth it. It is sad to say goodbye to an old friend, but we are blessed to have had such a friend to say good bye to. I hope he is on green pastures running like the wind reborn to his healthy youthful self. And someday I hope to see him again...I told him as much. Thank you for loving him. He knew it and appreciated it!


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Beyond Command (Commander): February 13, 1990 - February 18, 2013

Commander went to his rest this morning at a little past 10:00, ending his drawn-out, roller-coaster, ultimately unwinnable battle with founder. He walked slowly but resolutely out of the barn, into the sunlight, and stood foursquare with his head high as we gave him our last gift.

Commander slipped swiftly, peacefully into surcease from pain. He died with dignity, with his pride and spirit intact, and with a cookie in his mouth.

He will be missed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Time To Say Goodbye

Drove over through the bitter wind and snow to the barn an hour ago.

Commander looked bad. Make that awful. There’s no hope. I figured as much yesterday, but now it’s official.

The vet is making the arrangements for tomorrow. His former owner will be coming over to say goodbye today.

Commander is still full of himself, full of attitude and appetite, and as soon as I’d dumped fresh shavings, before I even had a chance to spread them, he slung himself over them to piss. That’s himself, all right.

Founder sucks.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Commander: Good and Bad News

Commander’s got an abscess. That’s the good news.

The Mighty Morgan had been looking very good recently, the best he’s been in a while – going out for turnout feisty and upheaded and attitudinal. But last evening he came in gimpy on his left front, and today when I arrived at midday he was hobbling, barely able to put the foot down.

When the vet arrived and assessed him she found a soft spot in the toe area, and a bit of digging broke it open to release the bloody crud within. We soaked his foot in hot water, Epsom salts and Betadine, then Helen wrapped a thick pad of cotton onto his misshapen hoof rather than putting the boot back on. Commander was clearly much more comfortable after all that and we left him quietly munching hay in Ben’s stall, where I’d put him earlier to give better light for the vet. He’ll continue to convalesce there, on daily doses of antibiotics, and Ben can make do with spending a couple of nights in the MM’s dimmer, less-windowed stall.

The bad news? The abscess is right at the tip of the coffin bone, a tip already perilously close to breaking through the sole. This could be the last straw, the final episode in Commander’s long battle with founder. We’ll see how he does over the next couple of days; I’ll check in with Helen on Monday with a status report; and we’ll go from there wherever the path takes us.

We’ve already discussed making arrangements for euthanasia.