Life Can Be Bittersweet

As we grow older it is inevitable that we will face the fact that those tasks in life that we were able to do are no longer within our capabilities. Believe me it is a hard pill to swallow. Unfortunately we tend to refuse to recognize this. We are in denial and keep telling ourselves we can do it. By choosing this path we don’t always do what is best and prolong the inevitable. Just recently I found myself guilty of doing this very thing.

In 2003 I became a full time farrier. I built my business up to a point where I was doing around 1400 head of horses a year or roughly 30 head a week. During the summer you would find me under horses six days a week. During this time I saw so many horses that were never trained and wasting away in a pasture. Something I said I would never do, or so I thought.

I had purchased a cutting horse bred filly. She was quite the handful but managed to break her and had her going well under saddle. I lost her in a divorce and figured I would never see her again.

I began having breathing problems and my energy levels suffered immensely. This was a part of my life for three years, off and on. Finally I couldn’t go anymore. My “get along” had got up and left. It turned out I was bleeding to death internally. My body only had a third of the blood it needed circulating through my veins. The whole time I was struggling to stay under horses to make my living. The doctor told me he had no good explanation as to why I was still alive and that there was probably some damage done to my organs. To make a long story short I recovered but my pulmonologist informed me she thought I had some lung damage. It was evident in my shortness of breath and lack of energy.

Then one day I was given the opportunity to buy my filly, now a mare, back. She had a filly on her side. I brought them home thinking I would break the filly. My health issues changed everything. I kept telling myself I would get better and have the horse I had always dreamed about.

Unfortunately I was in full blown denial. I was becoming one of those people I had always despised just letting her talents go to waste.

Then in January I lost my beloved ride dog Kate. Reality slapped me square in the face. I wasn’t being fair to my filly. At the same time I was wrestling with the realization that I was no longer able to do what I could once do.

I finally admitted my training days were over and I made some phone calls. Some very good friends who I knew would give them both a good home, agreed to take them. They are going to use the mare for breeding and break the filly. I guess it is only fitting that the mare would be the last horse I would break.

Tough Choice For Pet Owners

I wrestled with writing about this particular subject but I felt it might be beneficial to other pet owners facing this tough decision. I was faced with it in November 2019 and again in January 2020.

To euthanize or let nature take its course. It’s a very tough decision and when you do decide you almost always second guess yourself. Did I make the right decision? Who knows what the right decision is? We really don’t have anyway of knowing for sure. We have to ask ourselves if we are keeping them alive for them or for us. They can’t talk so we really don’t know if they are suffering.

In my case the first decision came when my Great Pyrenees, Eros, was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. The veterinarian gave me my options. Treat with steroids, chemotherapy or euthanasia. I didn’t want to put him through chemo so I opted for steroids and pain pills.

Eros responded well the first 3 days. Then he had a couple bad days. He began to get worse. I knew I had to make a decision and it was gut wrenching. I weighed the pros and cons and looking at them I asked myself if I was keeping him alive for me or him. In my case I decided it was for me so I made an appointment for him to cross the bridge.

I almost waited too long. The night before he got down and the only way he could get up was if I lifted him up on his legs. I practically had to carry him to the truck and load him to go to the vet’s office.

They had a room for us to go to without going through the waiting room. It was nice but just seemed such a cold impersonal place for him to take his last breath. I got down on the floor and held him as the vet injected him with the death serum. It was over quickly.

My second decision came in January 2020. My beloved Australian Shepherd, my ride dog, had developed a strange cough. I made Kate an appointment at the vets. I was afraid it was heart worms but that test came back negative. They decided to take some X-Rays. Her lungs were riddled with tumors. This was a Wednesday and when I asked the vet how long he thought she had he said a week two weeks tops. With Eros fresh in my mind I made the first appointment they had available. It was for Monday of the following week.

The vet had prescribed her some pain pills to help make her comfortable. Friday morning I needed to go to town so I took Kate with me. She had a rough time getting in the truck. We headed to town. Little did I know this would be our last ride together.

Back at the house I had to literally pick her up and set her on the ground. That’s when I noticed the spark was gone from her eyes. She got worse as the night progressed. I am not going to go into detail but the last 15 minutes of her life was not pretty. She took her last breath at 12:21 a.m. at home with just me and her.

I had hoped Eros would pass in his sleep but the memory of his death isn’t marred by a death struggle. I will always have Kate’s terrible fight haunting me.

I don’t second guess myself on my decision for Eros anymore. I had made the right decision with Kate but the appointment was too late.

For anyone having to make this decision I hope my experience helps you with your decision. Most of all I hope you don’t ever second guess yourself.

If you choose euthanasia promise yourself you will be there with them when they take their last breath. You being there helps their anxiety. Please don’t let them take their last breath alone with strangers. You owe them that much.

In Memory Of

Eros

Kate

Gone But Never Forgotten

Meddlin’ Kate

January 1, 2011

January 25, 2020

The picture at the top was taken Friday morning on our way into town. I had no idea it would be our last ride together. Somehow I think she knew it was.

Poor Kate was a victim of bad breeding. She had hip dysplasia and when she reached a year old surgery was performed. She recovered well. As a pup she suffered from crystals in her urine. They were quite painful.

This picture was after we brought her home from surgery. She slept on the couch after surgery and I slept on the floor beside her.

There are so many memories. I have never felt alone in my life but today I for the first time feel alone. RIP my precious girl.

Don’t Know How Much I Can Endure

“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.” – Thom Jones

I just had to have my Great Pyrenees euthanized on November 6, 2019. Cancer had attacked his body and he lost the war. He was only six years old.

Today, January 22,2020 I had a veterinarian appointment for my Australian Shepherd, Kate. X-Rays showed her lungs were riddled with tumors. I was devastated.

Kate was born on January 1, 2011. We became very attached to each other. I was a horseshoer and she was my ride dog. We were inseparable.

The vet thinks she has 1 to 2 weeks left with me before she crosses the bridge. Her crossing will leave a huge hole in my heart. Those who don’t love and respect animals like I do think I am being silly. For those of you who understand what it is like to love or be loved by a dog I thank God for you because you get it.

Wayne White

“The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of its master.” – Unknown

Don’t Stop Believing

“We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.” – Louisa May Alcott

I don’t know who needs to see this but apparently someone does. I have been trying to write about something else but I am continually brought back to this subject. So here goes.

One of my favorite stories is about a little boy who is practicing baseball. He throws the baseball up and swings the bat but misses. Strike one! He bends over picks up the ball and throws it up again swings the bat and misses. Strike two! Once again he bends over picks the ball up throws it up again swings the bat and misses again. Strike three! Batter is out. He stands there in disbelief and then he says, “Even I didn’t know I could pitch like that!”

Instead of feeling sorry for himself he turns the moment into a positive. He remains confident and doesn’t stop believing in himself.

How many times have we attempted to do something and failed then just felt sorry for ourselves? We all have done it. Instead of finding something positive we just wallow in self pity. We stop believing in ourselves. We convince ourselves we can’t do it.

Never stop believing in yourself. It may take several attempts for us to get good at something but with every attempt it is important that we believe in ourselves and never give up.

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We are a society of instant gratification. We want it now! Even people who are blessed with a special talent have to work to perfect that talent. For those of us who weren’t blessed we can still achieve success. We just have to work harder and never stop believing in ourselves. There is no room for doubt.

I use to shoe a young lady’s horse in Illinois. She has been legally blind since the age of eight years old. She is the 2016 Reserve Champion Intro Level Western Dressage rider for Western Dressage Association of Illinois and has earned her PhD. She had setbacks but she never gave up and never stopped believing.

We all are capable of achieving success as long as we believe in ourselves and are willing to work hard to get there. When we fall, we get up, dust ourselves off and try again.

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember that all things are possible for those who believe. “– Gail Devers

Small House Living

I became very interested in the idea of living in a small house and wondered about the pros and cons. In December of 2018 I had the opportunity to move into a 10 foot by 14 foot tiny house. It was void of running water and inside bathroom.

I moved in with my Great Pyrenees and Australian Shepherd which added to the experience. I do have access to a shower and water and it does have electric.

It has been quite the experience. I enjoy it but if I was looking at something permanent it would be at least 16 feet by 32 feet. I think that would be a very doable size.

I admit it isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend two large dogs either. It’s easy to heat and cool but just a little cramped at times. I haven’t regretted moving in. I am glad I did it.

Equine Ownership

As a retired horseshoer and horse owner I have learned a lot about the equine. They, like people, all have their own personalities. They are also a lot more intelligent than people give them credit for.

A lot of responsibility comes with ownership. There is a lot of work involved and it isn’t cheap. If you don’t own property and have to board your horse it can be quite expensive. If you keep your horse in a stall the stall needs to be mucked out daily. They also have to be fed hay daily. Depending on the horse and what you are doing with the horse you may need to feed grain twice a day every day.

“I’ve often said there is nothing better for the inside of the man, than the outside of the horse.” – Ronald Reagan

Now if you show your horse, compete in rodeos or trail ride you are going to need a trailer to haul your horse in and a truck to pull it. Now this could be a rather large expense.

Let’s not forget veterinarian expenses and annual shots, worming, hoof care and unexpected events.

All in all equine ownership isn’t cheap. In my opinion though the reward is worth the expense.

One Year Later

This was me a year ago. I camped out the weekend before Christmas. (12/22 – 12/23). The temps were high 40s low 20s. I am camped on my property.

This year on December 23 I had cataracts removed from my right eye. I went in at 8:30 and was out by 11. The marvels of modern medicine. Everything went fine. High that day in the 50s and low 30s. Christmas Day high is supposed to be near 70. We have a saying here in Missouri, “If you don’t like the weather just wait a few minutes.”

I wanted to camp out on the property the weekend before Christmas but the surgery put a damper on that. The worse news I got was that I couldn’t fish for a week or kayak for two weeks. Now enter temps of near 70 for Christmas Day.

I always carry with me a number 10 Lodge Dutch Oven. I think that is the most versatile size for camping for one. I can prepare a complete breakfast in it all at once. Sorry I digress.

Back to cataract surgery. I was amazed it only took a little over 15 minutes for the procedure. The people involved in my surgery at the Farmington Surgical Center were wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about them.

There was a little girl, I would say around 4 or 5 across from me. I watched as she entertained herself opening and closing the blinds surrounding the areas we were in. She suddenly stopped and was staring at me. I was probably quite a site lying there in the bed hooked up to an IV and all the other gadgets. She then says in this concerned little voice, “Mister are you all right.” I assured her I was fine and she smiled and went about her business.

Beside me there was a young boy around 11 that was having his tonsils removed and as they were wheeling me into the OR he said, “Mister, it will be okay. ” God love ’em.

What a difference a year can make. Hopefully I will be able to camp on the property the weekend before Christmas. One can only wonder what the weather will be like. We will just have to see.

A Little Farrier Humor

First let me make it clear the names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

A young man had bought a grade horse and was obsessed with finding out exactly how old the horse was to the point he became very annoying.

Now Bubba had been told by the sellers it was twenty one years old. Someone made the mistake of telling him that the sellers were known for not telling the truth. Now Bubba was convinced his horse was close to thirty. He asked the vet to age him by looking at his teeth. Vet said as near as he could tell the horse was in his twenties.

One morning while I was in the barn shoeing horses he began his rant of not knowing exactly how old his horse was. I wasn’t having a good morning. A horse had pulled its foot back at the same time the nail exited the hoof and sliced my finger. Billy Bob, who worked at the barn, was holding horses and fetching them for me.

Well Bubba just went on and on and I had had enough. I said there is one sure fire way you could get close. You know how a tree is aged by its rings? Well a horse grows an anal ring every five years so if it has four rings it is between twenty and twenty five. At this point Billy Bob almost choked on his tobacco. Billy Bob said that’s right. I had forgot about that method.

Well Bubba told us we were full of it and walked off. I never gave it another thought. I was sure he knew I was being sarcastic.

I was under a horse prepping the hoof for a shoe. Meanwhile Bubba had pulled his horse out of the stall and was grooming him. I was checking the shoe fit when Billy Bob said you have to see this and was laughing hysterically. I set the foot down and looked in the direction of Bubba.

I looked on in disbelief. Bubba was holding the tail with one hand and with the finger of the other hand he was opening the business end of the horse with his face just inches away. Bubba and I were laughing so hard we had tears running down our cheeks.

I guess Bubba heard us and dropped its tail and judging by what he was saying to us it was a safe bet we were no longer on his Christmas card list. He didn’t talk to us for months and to my knowledge never asked anyone how old they thought his horse was.

Let me tell you. It was quite a sight to see. I still laugh when I think about it. I never thought in my wildest dreams that he would do that. I guess I was wrong.