Goodbye to Lucy
Our Gentle Fighter
Yesterday, Lucy lost her fight. After a measly 13 months here at The Golden Carrot, during which she bloomed into a beautiful mare from the sick and emaciated horse who weakly exited the trailer, Mother Nature gave her notice, and nothing she or we could do would change the verdict.
With your help, and Nature’s kindness, we were able to give Lucy the love, food, and companionship she’d been deprived of for so long. But nothing beats cancer, and we knew from the start her time here would be limited. A very elderly mare, missing teeth, truly skin and bones, also had a huge tumor at her right jawline, and many more under her tail. No one who saw her thought she would make it. She came to us in November of 2015, cold hitting hard, and the veterinarian, farrier, chiro, volunteers and I all winced, wondering how she was still on her feet. The doc said she needed some work on the teeth she had left, but she was just too frail to sedate right away.
Thirty days in, despite a great display of energy, and clear delight in her herd, Lucy developed a stenchy discharge from one nostril. Huge gobs of mucous which smelled to high heaven dripped constantly, and she wiped her nose on her legs till a crust developed. The doc was afraid it might be a rotten tooth, but admitted none felt the least bit loose. We started antibiotic therapy, but he warned me that if it was a tooth, unless the tooth was removed the infection would come back quickly when we stopped. Since he had to sedate her to check the teeth, he floated her earlier than we expected. And discharge or not, Lucy never met any kind of food she wouldn’t eat. All told, we gave her antibiotics for FOUR MONTHS! I’d NEVER used antibiotics for such a period ... but she showed no ill effects. Then, in March, I realized two days in a row her nose was dry as she nibbled her morning cookie off my hand. I kept up the twice daily antibios for 12 more days. And then stopped. And I swear I held my breath for a week .... but no return of discharge, and continued appetite and perkiness said that our girl had actually pulled through.
She started to lose that thick haircoat - TONS of hair - and underneath, thru the summer, we saw her blossom. She was satiny, and slightly ‘fleabitten’ with some funny blotches. Who knows what she was, breed wise - Her body seemed sort of Thoroughbred-y to me; her face small and delicate; she had vertical dark and light stripes on her hoofs like an Appy - and none of that mattered - she was truly beautiful. The Appy blood I suspected probably explained her stubborn will to live...
She was, as long as she could see her friends Pepe and Keller, always calm and seemed almost half asleep as she stood head to tail with Keller. If she slept, and they wandered off, when she awoke she cried to heaven and ran frantically till she found them.
She loved her herd most - they gave her a reason to live, and even brief separations were hard for her. I was glad I didn’t have to take her to a clinic for a tooth extraction... She never approached me - of course Pepe and Keller did, and she would trail a distance behind, and stand aloof. When I came each night with her second bucket, I would tap the wall to let her know I was there (she was never watching, and I don’t think her hearing was all that good), and she would turn her head away, out of the feed bowl, and back once I poured her second bucket in. She never looked at me. She tolerated me; she tried to cooperate with the farrier despite a bum hip and abscessy front feet; she endured the vet; she took her meds. Toward the end, she would stand at her stall gate, give me a sweet and gentle look, and try to con me that I’d forgotten to give her a cookie. But she really didn’t ever trust people again. I think she watched always expecting something bad - while she’d been well trained, and probably loved in her lifetime, that last ‘home’ brought her too close to death thru neglect. She knew what they should have been doing. She knew she didn’t deserve being left without food or care. So, not knowing how to prevent it, she planned for it to happen again - she ate EVERYTHING she could get near, even with those missing teeth very efficient and determined. And she stayed with her herd ... they were safety and life to her.
Nature was kind enough to let her heal, mostly, and give her the herd she longed for. But her time was limited from the start, and she was called home to heaven yesterday. I had such great respect for her grit, her determination to survive and be part of her herd. I think that all of us should be proud of what we accomplished with Lucy - given more time and her kind nature, I think she would have come back to loving people too, but at least we were able to make up for the horrors she’d gone through.
This morning, Keller spent some time snuffling over me, instead of heading out for breakfast right away. I think he misses her. I know I do.