Reluctant Cowgirl

Hello, December (Goodbye, Donkey)

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I took November off.

I did not write in this blog and I didn’t spend any time on Instagram. I didn’t know what to say.

The donkey was put down early in the month. I’ve spent a lot of the intervening days thinking about what happened and beating myself up about not being a good enough horse owner. I was afraid to tell people that she died and worried that I’d face more judgement than what I was already heaping on myself. As if the actual heartbreak of losing her wasn’t bad enough.

After two expensive farm calls we realized we’d exhausted the local vet’s knowledge (one of them anyway, the other was inconveniently at hunting camp during this entire episode) and took her to Idaho Equine Hospital. They ran blood tests and took x-rays. Her coffin bones were not rotated. Her pulse was high and so was her glucose. She was behaving more normal than she had been recently, even hamming it up a bit with the technicians as they held her by the computer and she looked over their shoulders at the screen. I held her head in my hands and was completely sure it was adrenaline but tried to convince myself that she was feeling better. We decided to admit her at what would be great expense to let them try her on IV fluids and blue boards for her sore feet. It did not feel entirely dire when we got in the truck and headed two and a half hours back home.

I’ve had my iPhone on Do Not Disturb mode in the nighttime ever since the feature was released. I always worried if a call would come through when I needed it to but never enough to remember to turn it off when there was a chance for that. Who is that prepared for disaster? We’re not morning people and so the Do Not Disturb doesn’t turn off til after 7. When I looked at my phone there were multiple calls and texts and voicemails from a Boise number and I immediately knew it couldn’t be good.

After the adrenaline of the trip wore off things went sideways. They gave her fluids and morphine but she stopped responding. They tubed her and fluid came up. I tried to buy some time to get more blood tests back but the vet called again and said it wasn’t worth it; she was in too much pain. We made the decision to put her down from two and a half hours away, sitting on our couch, stunned.

I’m not good with the hard stuff. I backed away and went into a hole. I want to learn from the experience but still don’t entirely understand what happened. She was overweight. She was possibly laminitic, though like I mentioned, x-rays didn’t show rotation. We’ve had her since March, and were given no indication of previous history with founder or colic. She wasn’t that old. She ate grass this summer, but our pastures are not the green, sugary easy keeper nightmares known to cause such problems, and I still have a hard time believing my husbandry in the eight months since we got her is responsible for her death. But nevertheless, she’s gone.

She was a terrible companion for the old horse we got her to keep company with. She was full of attitude and drama and mischief. She was humorless when you needed to laugh and outrageous when you needed something serious from her. She was a fucking outstanding donkey and I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time together.

RIP, Muffin/Sassafras. I hope donkey heaven is full of cake and candy and you get to eat it all, with no consequences.

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Author: reluctant cowgirl

I love my dogs and equines and good food, drink and music. I believe that the world is a better place because of bad Sandra Bullock movies, Hank Williams, and honeybees. I used to think I would never live in the middle of nowhere eight hours from the ocean or own a horse as an adult, but now both are true, so I may be an unreliable narrator.

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