Velvet’s Final Days

As many of you might recall, Velvet had not been doing well for the past few months.  Having an ill, senior horse, approaching the winter season in Michigan, was a bit of a challenge. Between her Cushings Disease and chronic diarrhea, Velvet’s last few months were extremely difficult, regardless of how many vet visits, medications or supplements we tried.  Yet, Velvet was still the first animal to call out to me, when she heard the garage door open.  It was like she was saying, “It’s about time, Lady!”  There was definitely nothing wrong with her hearing!

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For the past few weeks, I knew her time was near.  I was preparing myself to not have my dear friend and teacher by my side for much longer.  I tried to be strong, each morning when I would greet her at her stall, and share with her my thoughts and dreams for the day.    Regardless of how hard I tried to be strong for her, I would always end up with tears flowing down my cheeks, as I gazed into those large brown eyes.  She would nudge me with her nose, which reminded me to pull it together and that maybe giving her another treat would help.  On her most difficult days, she was she was still the strong one.

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Velvet and I had a very special connection from the beginning.   Our time together was precious.  Being our alpha, Velvet had a bit of an attitude.  I was determined to soften her…   Yet, I never imagined the lessons she would teach me about strength and perseverance. I have to admit, Velvet loved me most of all.  I was her human.  I liked it that way!  Deep in my heart, I know I taught Velvet to relax and not take life so seriously!  This picture is proof of that!

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Last Friday, Velvet was not her normal self.  (Although, she still called out to me, the moment she heard the door open!)  She was a bit wobbly on her feet and was not eating or drinking much.  I kept a close eye on her throughout the day. I am always thankful that I can watch the horses out our bedroom windows.   We were preparing to leave and make a quick trip to the farm store.  I glanced out the window and Velvet was standing under her favorite summer tree, looking directly in at me.  She never moved…she just stood there, almost frozen in time, as the sun fell gently behind the trees.

When we returned from the farm store, we headed right out to the barn for evening chores.  It was odd to see only Magic standing by her stall door.  As soon as the sun would set, Velvet would always be waiting at her door, wanting inside for her grain.  She loved her treats!  My heart started pounding…  As I arrived at the fence, I noticed Velvet still under her favorite tree.  She whinnied to me, but her voice was weak.  I called for her, but she wouldn’t come.  As I approached her, I noticed that she was extremely unsteady and very disoriented.  I called for Wifey to help.  We tried everything, but she would not move.

At this point, temperatures were in the single digits, without taking wind chills into consideration.  Although both horses had their Winter blankets on, Velvet was still shaking with chills.  Slowly and with much gentle coercion, we were able to guide Velvet to the front of the barn.  As much as I wanted to tuck her in her stall for the night, I knew that having a horse go down/pass in a stall, would only make a difficult situation even more challenging.  It was Velvet’s time and also time to call our amazing farm vet.

When I returned from calling our vet, from the hot room in the barn, Velvet was not where I had left her.  She was back standing under her tree.  I am not sure how she got up and made it out there, but obviously, it was her way of telling us that she could not go in the barn. This confirmed for me that it was her time.  Completely disoriented, Velvet continued to be unsteady on her feet.  I realized that having her cross over, while out in the paddock, would be difficult for Magic.  I guided Velvet slowly back to the barn gate.

Within minutes, Velvet was down.  She was shaking and her breathing was shallow.  Minutes felt like hours.  I continued to talk to her and told her I would be ok and that it was time to let go.  My hands and feet burned from the cold, but I was determined to stay with her until the very end.  Wifey continued to finish evening chores for the other animals, while I waited with Velvet.    We were so close to the gate.  If only she would stand up one more time, we could head out of the paddock.   I talked with her about one of our special walks behind the barn.  And asked her if we could take that walk together, one more time…  She looked at me as if to say, I will try.

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It had been over an hour since we called the vet, so I stepped in the barn once again, to check my phone for messages from her.  When I returned, Velvet was up.  I called for Wifey to open the gate.  Slowly, I led Velvet out of the small gate.  She was extremely unsteady, but still managed to take a bite of the crab apple tree, next to the barn.  It was her way of making me smile through tears.  Within minutes, she had found her resting place and was down for good.  She found the strength to still do what was best for Magic and take care of our hearts, all at the same time.

With our eyes locked, Velvet drifted off to a deep sleep.  I continued to talk to her until her final moment.  She was truly one of my greatest teachers and most loyal friend…

The barn has not been the same these past few days.  There is no one to sound off, to the other animals, that it is feeding time.  There is no one nudging me for more treats.  Yet, Magic did give me a big wet kiss, across the face, with her tongue this morning, as I tried to reassure her that everything was going to be ok.  Who am I kidding, I was trying to reassure myself.  Deep down, I know Velvet will give me the strength to get through her loss.

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There is sadness on the farm, yet there is a little, magical twinkle, just around the corner.  Ironically, with the temperature changes at an unseasonably 40 degrees on Wednesday, Frodo, our mini donkey is able to be delivered sooner than expected.  We thought he would be a guardian for the sheep, but I think he will play a more important role for Magic.  Well, and maybe for someone else…

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Thank you, sweet Velvet for touching my heart like no other.  You showed me that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I will listen closely to the wind, hoping to hear your call at sunrise, each morning. Love YOU Always, my dear friend…

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♥ Thank you to so many of you who have been so caring and kind during this difficult time.  My heart is hurting.  I apologize for not being more in touch with reading and commenting.  I have to admit, it has always been easier for me to communicate with animals over people.  Many of you have magically changed that for me.  Thank you for being you and loving me for me…

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

♥Roda

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48 thoughts on “Velvet’s Final Days

  1. A wonderful tribute to Velvet. It sounds like she had an amazingly strong spirit and those eyes…a window to that beautiful soul. I’m sorry for everyone’s loss on the farm especially you. I know she is looking down thankful for you. Animals can be such amazing friends. We humans have a lot to learn from them. Many hugs 💐💞

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It definitely is! 😔 My family had to say goodbye to our five year old Boxer named Roxanne because she had kidney failure…I don’t think it’s easier no matter the circumstances… so I am with you in spirit!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very sorry about Velvet. (Death is not what we think.)
    Our little Shih Tzu (who is 15 years old) has Cushings. We treat her with Dandelion Root powder and Milk Thistle powder… along with fish oil (squeezed from capsules); this wouldn’t likely be feasible for horses. She is doing pretty well, considering her age. (All dogs should get fish oil daily as they age — to prevent strokes — and be given Tropiclean gel or water additive… for their teeth).
    Stay strong!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For days I’ve been trying to come up with the appropriate words to say to you. All of the reassuring platitudes just don’t fit our relationship. I’ve finally given up. I realize that there are no words to express my feelings of abject helplessness when I just want to give you a hug that would say it all. So I send you a hug. I send you a thousand hugs, and yet it will never be enough. ❤️

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    1. Thank you, dear friend. You don’t have to say anything. I know you completely understand. I know that you would listen, through my tears, in a heart beat! I can write about her, but saying things out loud is not working very well. One day at a time… 💚💚💚

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I am so sorry to hear about Velvet. It sounds like you did the right thing staying with her until the end. Eventually, the other animals will move forward but they are a lot like us it just takes some time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My sympathy, Roda! I just added this to your Femme Friday post: Since Roda wrote this beautiful post, her sweet horse Velvet, pictured above, has cantered over the rainbow bridge. Golden light surround you both, Roda and Velvet! xottf 1/8/18

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So sorry for your loss. Your deep connection with Velvet was very special and recognizing that the end was near probably made her departure a little easier for you. I’m glad you were able to be with her when she passed. Your love for her is undeniable.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was so moving… So sad, yet so beautiful. She will always be standing under her tree, watching over you and making sure you’re ok. I am so sorry Roda 😢 we have 9 rescue dogs, a palomino paint quarter horse mare named Teaka and a 20 year old miniature gelding named Flash. We feel your pain 😢💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Walt. Saying goodbye to her was one of the most difficult things I have ever done! It is difficult to believe she has gone two weeks tomorrow. The barn is just not the same…😢

      Liked by 1 person

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