Sunday, September 2, 2012

Roy At Peace

I went out Saturday night to feed Sweetie like I do every night. I like to know she is OK before I go to sleep. She is 34 and if she falls down, she can't get up without the help of our sling and tractor. While I do this, Roy, Annabelle and whatever horses stayed in the barn also get an extra helping of feed and treats. 

I have been doing this for a few years now. Since Roy had his spinning problem in late September of 2010, it has been even more important. Roy walked out of the barn late that night, walked about 20 feet from the barn door and started spinning to the left. He couldn't stop. I eased him into the covered ring since it has a sand base, I thought if he falls hard, at least he would land on soft sand. I stayed with him. I was happy he slowly eased himself down. He laid there for about an hour and he looked very comfortable. He then got up walked away and several times a day for the next few weeks, he would start to spin again. I have a vet come out who said she believes he injured his hip. We gave him anti inflammatory medications for a few days but no change. I asked another vet who thought it was heart syncope causing it. As it slowed down a little, Roy learned to lean against a pole to not spin and keep his balance. Another vet came out and thought it may be a brain tumor. He said Roy is not a good candidate to go for an MRI and sedating him could kill him. I felt like this diagnosis may be the closest to the problem because he only spun to the left and he developed a small spot on his left eye. They vet said the spot didn't have any thing to do with it but I truly believed it did. So now if he does have a brain tumor, what to do? How can we fix it? The vet gave me some antibiotics and little hope.  
Roy laying in the sun napping next to his old girlfriend, Sapphire. 

So many people knew Roy, he had been here 8 years. A big, golden Belgium draft horse stands out in everyone's mind. People came from everywhere to say good bye to him. We were facing a decision so hard to make. Picking a date and time to die, to end a life. We all work so hard rescuing horses is to save their life. This part was the saddest thing anyone could do, a decision not taken easily. It weights heavy on your heart. 

A volunteer, Libby, told me she was giving a dog the spice, turmeric, which has been known to shrink tumors, and suggested I try it on Roy. How could it hurt? What was there to lose? It was actually hope, hope it could help Roy live longer. We started with a tablespoon and eventually increased it to 6 tablespoons a day. It worked like miracle. Roy's spinning slowly stopped for nearly two years. Turmeric gave us more time to love Roy. About  a month, ago, Roy started to walk and turn around a little more often. I did increase the turmeric and prayed it wasn't happening and getting worse. 
You can see where Roy was circling.

I saw a few more signs of Roy spinning. It not have been noticed by anyone else but I saw places in the gravel where Roy was spinning. I pointed it out to some of the volunteers, I think in my heart, I was preparing everyone, including myself, that this was close to the end. 

Early this morning, I walked into the barn to make sure Sweetie was OK. I saw Roy laying in the shaving pile, his favorite place to rest. He looked comfortable. I did notice his eyes were opened. I walked over to him, waved my hand in from of his eye. no reaction. Then I called him, he couldn't hear well anymore so I was louder and louder. I patted his leg and moved it, still no reaction. Was Roy gone? I was not grasping this at all. I walked all the way back into the house and I kept thinking, he is just sleeping. My mind was recalling Roy's almost 10 years at the rescue and all the people who love him. I had to go back in the barn to confirm my crazy thoughts.   I was mistaken, yes, I surely hoped I was. 

Sadly, I was right. Roy had died peacefully in the place I have seen him lay down for many years. He was gone. 

Albert being comforted as he lays on tarp covering Roy's body.
Everyone is sad but we all agreed he died in peace. He was given a cross to be buried with, he was given love and blessings by everyone. We will buy him this afternoon in a nice place where he can look over the farm. Our heart aches for Roy but it also aches for Albert, our Nubian Goat. He was Roy's stall mate and companion for many years.  Roy was covered with a tarp in the barn.  Albert is laying on the tarp, almost on Roy's lifeless body. Albert is going to take this hard. He cried for his blind horse friend, Stevie Wonder, over 6 years ago when Stevie died at UGA. Albert mourns. Albert stood outside the barn and cried for a few months, crying for Stevie. I know it will hurt all the volunteers to know Roy is gone but will be so hard to see Albert mourning along with them. 

This is a blog from when Roy started spinning.

Our banner with our lovely Roy.
Rest In Peace Sweet Roy. 


Sara Bryce said...

Roy and Albert were an odd couple that immediately drew attention. During feeding, Albert would wait for Roy to enter his stall then quickly follow behind. When I first witnessed this, it concerned me how such a large horse could share a regular sized stall with a goat during feeding time, no less, and be safe. But I quickly realized there's was a special relationship. Roy frequently used his size to shield Albert from view while Albert got into mischief as only a goat can do. I'm afraid Albert is going to need lots of attention in the coming weeks and months. :-(

Karin Rubin said...

Roy I will miss you!! Eating your carrots on Saturday, and just about gulping my hand ... I have known you for such a short while, and yet you were always there to hug me with that huge head. How can I ever forget you?? And Albert ... he was standing with you, right behind you ... always there. We will love Albert - he will surely need it now.

Janet Flanigan said...

I only know your horses online but plan on visiting as I am working on a book and am planning on setting up a visit to the farm. but I am constantly moved to tears by the stories of bravery, kindness and sometimes sadness like the loss of Roy. But he was obviously so loved and isn't that how all animals should enjoy their end of days. Sadly they aren't all so lucky and that is our mission. To put an end to the suffering and make sure that people see the beauty that we see. Make sure they are all as loved as Roy. I know you will make sure Albert is well cared-for. God bless.

Cindy Holeva said...

I will miss him so much. I really loved that horse, I could not visit without saying "Hi" to Roy and giving him a treat. He was such a gentle giant that was always kind even if he did not feel good. Rest in peace Roy, I will always remember you.

Libby said...

Roy died the way we hope all our fur babies die,, on his terms and in his sleep. Roy had a good life. He was well loved by all and will be missed.