Saturday, January 1, 2011
The Story of Angel - Part 1
The first week of December 2010, three abandoned and neglected horses were found turned loose on a road in Gilroy, CA. They were taken to the Santa Clara County Animal Shelter in San Martin, CA, where they were found to be seriously underweight and in need of hoof trimming. Community members donated money to buy hay and Linda Cowles donated her hoof trimming services to get their feet in better shape. A call went out to the local community about these horses and their need for foster homes. Nick (my personal horse - a 25-year-old Arabian gelding) was lonely since the horse that lived next to him had moved and there was a lovely, large, empty paddock available next to Nick's paddock. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I spoke with my landlord about the shelter horses and the empty paddock and he gave me permission to bring one of the horses to our property as a "foster horse" for two months.
Four hours later, I came home to check on Nick and found him colicing badly. At first, I thought he was choking, but it soon became apparent he was in serious distress and was experiencing a very bad colic. I called Tri-County Veterinary Hospital and Jodi Chadim, DVM was on call. The hospital was already closed for the Christmas holidays, but Jodi came immediately and was at the barn within twenty minutes. Less than two hours later, after a sonogram and unsuccessful attempts to control his pain, we put Nick down. It was clear that emergency surgery was the only possibility for saving him and he was a poor candidate for surgery and had a very poor prognosis. An autopsy showed he had a right dorsal displacement of the colon. In a span of two hours, I unexpectedly lost the light of my life, and the best equine friend anyone could ever hope to have. Christmas Eve was unbearably sad and lonely for me.
I was used to seeing Nick's beautiful face and his lovely eyes watching my every move, every time I glanced at his paddock. Nick was so sensitive and neurotic I checked on him very frequently, just to be sure he had not jumped into a pile of lawn furniture and gotten stuck, or run through the fence in a frenzy (both of which he had done). I was used to seeing his beautiful copper coat shining outside my window. Now, when I looked at his empty, lifeless paddock, I would feel overwhelming waves of grief and start sobbing. I could not bear the emptiness.
Christmas Day was terribly sad for me. It did not "feel" like Christmas at all. After helping to clean the DreamPower stalls, I decided to go over to the San Martin Animal Shelter and see the abandoned horses that were in need of foster homes. I was seriously considering bringing a foster horse home, purely for my own benefit, so that there would once again be a horse in Nick's paddock. I knew this horse would not replace Nick - no horse ever will - but I hoped the overwhelming emptiness would be lessened by having a horse outside my window again.
At the shelter, I was surprised to see that all three horses looked remarkably like Nick - bright copper chestnuts with a white star. They appeared to be quarter horse/Arabian crosses, about Nick's size and shape, except two of them were thought to possibly be pregnant. After thinking about it for a few hours, I called the shelter director and told her that I would take the youngest horse ("young and grumpy") as a foster horse. She had a history of pulling back, just like Nick. So on Christmas Day 2010, a trailer pulled into the driveway and Brigid Wasson, the shelter supervisor, delivered "young and grumpy" to her new foster home.