Spring Farm CARES Animal and Nature Sanctuary
Animal Memorials 2017
November 13, 2017

Animal Memorials 2017

Walking Through the PortalEach and every animal who resides with us on the farm is an important part of the whole family. Each one of them comes and touches our hearts and leaves memories that we cherish. Death is a part of life, a natural transition and process. Being an animal sanctuary we deal primarily with elder care and hospice care and, in that process, we are with most of our animal family as they pass from this realm into the next. It is sometimes very difficult, sometimes very hard, sometimes a shock, and sometimes it is an expected passing. But it is always an honor to be with them and to share in that most sacred moment. Here at the farm, it is an event that our whole staff shares in. Each animal who dies is given a memorial service and burial and whoever of our staff wants to participate, brings with them a parting gift to be buried with that animal. Whether it is some flowers or their favorite blanket or treat or toy, it is our way of paying them tribute. We laugh together. We cry together. But mostly we are there to share with one another the depth to which each animal has touched us. We share aloud the things they have taught us and the stories and memories we will always have. It is a chance to honor their heart and soul and a chance to thank them for sharing with us. It is an opportunity to say good-bye and to send them on their journey with our love and best wishes.

It is from this perspective that we share these memorials with all of you. These are not presented for the purpose of sharing sadness. While we do feel sad, the reason for sharing these memorials, is to impart to all of you a small piece of what we have been given as gifts from all of these animals. It is our way of thanking them for being here with us and to acknowledge them and share them with the world. It is a celebration for who they are and the mark they have left on this world.


Promises CLA - November 4, 2017

Promises

With sadness we said good-bye to an amazing soul in a horse body. Promises was 28 years old and had spent the last 5 years of her life here with us. We were blessed to have known and loved her. Promises was unusual in so many ways. She was not a horse who came to us from abuse or neglect. In fact, Promises spent her life being loved. She came here when her owner couldn’t keep her due to her own health problems and Promises could no longer be ridden due to a leg injury and her age and thus couldn’t be rehomed. Basically, she retired here with us.

Promises was a true princess. She was kind and gentle and yet incredibly strong willed. She has been an inspiration to us over the years. Her advancing years brought her a list of medical issues. Starting from Cushing’s Disease to secondary problems from that such as chronic laminitis, arthritis, and eventually a severe deterioration in one of joints in a front leg. By all means, Promises shouldn’t have still been alive. For the last 2 years, she lived day by day – aided by incredible nursing and rehab care. Promises had twice a day Game Ready treatments, special leg wraps, Magnetic therapy, Massage therapy, Laser therapy, Energy work, and of course medical care with state of the art pain management. With all of that, Promises was able to live comfortably in a way that meant a lot to her and with a life she truly loved. We always knew there would come a day when we couldn’t keep her comfortable any longer and it would be our turn to help her make that final decision. But Promises kept on trucking as if she was going to get every last drop of this lifetime lived with her special joy and grace. And she did just that.

On Friday, we noticed she was uncomfortable and with the help of our veterinarian we determined she had yet again another challenge facing her with her feet. We tried treating but no matter what we did, we couldn’t get her comfortable on her feet. We were at the end of what we could do with pain medications and all of the treatments we had available were no longer working. By Sunday, her pain started to get worse and we knew we had reached the end of our journey. All of her human friends – the caretakers who had done such an amazing job with her – stood together in a semi-circle in front of her stall. All of us, together with our veterinarian, let Promises walk her final steps the way she wanted to do. With amazing determination and grace and dignity Promises walked out of her stall, said her final goodbye to the rest of her herd and to her human companions, and we set her free.

Promises epitomized the very heart of Spring Farm CARES. She was loving and brave and courageous and always – in all ways – she was kind. You did it your way girl, just as you wanted. Now go run free with your herd, head high, nostrils flaring – with all your grace and dignity and beauty.

We’d like to say a very special thank you to Dr. Rachel Fraser of Leatherstocking Veterinary. Thank you for walking with her step by step, day by day, and for helping to set her free when it came time to do so. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

 

Bella - October 21, 2017

Bella, cat

Today we pay tribute to one of the largest beings in our barn who spent the past 13 years gracing our lives. Bella was not the largest in physical stature by any means, but she held a space on this farm of tremendous leadership. Bella was not only our head barn cat, but she was also a true leader, and a beloved friend. There is probably not a person who has ever visited this farm who was not touched by Bella in some way. She was the head of the welcoming committee. She was chief consoler for anyone with a sad heart. She was the head tour guide. She was in charge of visitor orientation – especially for Dawn’s workshops. She did all of those things with love and humor and charm and wisdom. All of that rolled up in one small white cat.

For those of us who lived with her every day, it is hard to imagine life without her here. Being the head barn cat is a major role. There is a lot to it. She not only looked after things with her sister Izzy, but she planned out their day and who would be where. It never ceased to amaze us how Bella always knew where she needed to be. If there was a horse needing attention, no matter where it was on the farm, Bella would always show up to either help the staff and/or veterinarian. Actually, truth be told, she was actually there to support the horse. Because that is what Bella did. But she loved to help the humans too. She took the role of nurse and consultant very seriously.

Visitors were always impressed with the white cat who showed up for almost every tour. She’d say hello, size people up, and immediately decide who would benefit from her help. In large groups, we’d often watch her single out a few people to whom she would give a little extra something special. She was pure love and magic.

But no one knows more about the magic of Bella than the many generations of staff and caretakers who have been here over the years she shared with us. Bella was always there for them in amazing ways. Often riding on their shoulders while they did the horse feeding and watering, or following them around as they worked. She also helped the gardener for years tend to the gardens of the farm, riding her shoulders as she worked. Bella was ever present – in all ways. If she thought you were having a hard day, then she’d be there to cheer things up. Whatever she could offer to do to help, she did.

There were other amazing and special things about Bella as well. One of the most amazing things she did was to sit with horses and goats who were ill. She was always there for them. And when one of them passed, we would cover their body with blankets or sheets, and Bella would stay with them until it was time for the burial. She’d been known to stay with the body for many hours – making sure her friend was looked after until the very last good-bye. Bella knew how to pay tribute in a sacred way. None of us will ever forget that sight of her ritual that she did for each and every horse and goat who died. Yes, Bella was a spiritual giant in a small cat body.

On the cat side of things, Bella was a magnificent hunter. She’d be very upset if I left this part out about her. She took great pride in being the chief rodent deterrent.  This part of her job she also excelled at and took very seriously. There has never been a more expert rat catcher on our property. And she would be proud for me to share with you, that right up until the day before she died, she caught her mandatory daily rat. All of this while dealing with her body declining from kidney disease and osteoarthritis that made her very stiff. Bella, never ever stopped her patrol or stopped her daily rounds until the day before she died. That’s when it became our turn to give back to the amazing healer, teacher, hunter, princess, and friend and let her rest in the sun (which had become her most favorite thing to do) on a soft pillow, in a warm room, overlooking her farm. “Yes,” she said, “this suits me most fine.” All of her human friends came to visit and sit with her one by one. It was our turn to hold a sacred spot for her. And in that place, she curled up, went to sleep, and drifted off on some wonderful adventure, while quietly leaving her body behind, knowing the farm she loved held her deeply in a massive embrace. We wonder at the line of horse and goats and cat friends that preceded her into Spirit that we are certain were waiting for her and holding a place for her in the sun just as she had done for them.

Bella leaves behind her sister Izzy, a barn full of very appreciative horses, goats, chickens, and ducks – and dear Bella, I’m sorry to say, but you leave behind a lot of relieved rats as well. Our hearts are warmed with the memories that we all carry of you. We still can feel you riding on our shoulders and running to greet us as we walk in the barn. Thank you for all you gave to us. We salute you on your new journey and hold you in our hearts forever. Nicely done Bella. Your relieved of your post – for now.

 

 

Mystic - September 29, 2017

Mystic

We said good-bye yet again to another one of our equine herd today. Mystic left us very unexpectedly from a colic. To say we are shocked by her passing is an understatement since Mystic, at only 9 years old, was actually currently the youngest horse in our herd. She was physically in her prime and was strong and filled with vitality. Mystic was gorgeous. But Mystic had endured a lot of trauma in her short lifetime and her journey to get to us was hard fought. Indeed, Mystic had only been with us for one year this past July. It seems so much longer than that.

To many, Mystic’s story would read that she was a very difficult horse with a lot of quirks and neurotic tendencies. But when you realized Mystic’s story, you had to be amazed she came out of all she’d been through as strong as she had. Mystic’s life began in California. Born a Thoroughbred and meant to race, she ended up on the losing end of the race industry and was going to be sold for slaughter. But a “rescue” organization in California picked her up and saved her. The only problem was that Mystic had now entered her second betrayal in life. The “rescue” was not a good one and Mystic and many other horses were found starving to death in a pit of mud and filth. Mystic was one of only a few to have survived. Down to literally her last hope, a person all the way on the other end of the country agreed to take Mystic on in hopes to rehabilitate her enough for her to get a good home. But Mystic was far too weak to make the trip across country. She was shipped to a rescue in Colorado first until she was strong enough to make the journey to the east coast.

Once to the east coast, it was discovered that Mystic had a severe back injury that had now become a chronic issue. She could never be ridden. She was only 8 years old. We were approached to see if she could stay in our sanctuary for the remainder of her life and after much consideration, we agreed that we could offer her a place with us in our herd. She arrived in July 2016.

Mystic was a challenge. Even though she had already come so far in her training and rehabilitation, Mystic was a lot of horse to deal with. She was at times very difficult to handle. She had a myriad of quirks that made her very challenging. And she ended up being increasingly sensitive to many environmental things. She had a lot of allergy issues as well as a tendency to be accident prone. And now this is where Mystic made her move from our rescuing her to one of her rescuing us.

Mystic started to get labeled. It was unintentional. But she was really hard for most of our staff to handle. Pretty soon, she had become the “problem” horse. Luckily, our Animal Health and Enrichment Director, Robin, stepped in to help and took the lead role in handling and working with Mystic. She and Mystic together helped all of us understand that Mystic was not a problem horse but simply a horse with problems. That seems so simple, doesn’t it? But we had been missing it. Robin guided all of us to start looking at ways that would make life easier and more manageable and successful for Mystic and urged us all to think outside the box. And we did. What happened next literally overhauled our entire equine management protocols. Today, one year later, all of our horses benefit from the things we all learned from Mystic. We are now much better at meeting each horse's unique and individual needs in sometimes very subtle ways. That is a gift that Mystic brought to our farm that impacted many horses and still for many more to come. We can never thank Mystic enough for that gift and opportunity to grow and become better at what we do.

Tonight, we went to close down our barn for the night and found Mystic acting like she had a belly ache. She was prone to getting light colics now and then and we had a protocol in place for her that worked well. Usually, 30-45 minutes later, she’d be over the disruption and be eating again. We had no reason to think this time was different. But one hour later, we knew we were dealing with something more serious. Our veterinarian came right out and together we spent the next several hours trying to help our dear friend Mystic. It became obvious that the only answer was to get her in for emergency surgery. She had her age going for her. She was in prime condition. Her prognosis seemed good. We approved the surgery at Cornell University. It was a 2-hour drive to get her there. It was now 10:30pm. We prepped the trailer. Robin, who is also a licensed veterinary technician, was going to ride with Steve, our barn manager. The veterinarian loaded Mystic up with as much pain killer as she could and she gave Robin more to administer on the trip to the hospital. Mystic had been trailered many times in her life and was not new to the process. All was good to go and we started to load her in the trailer. But Mystic would not get on. We tried many different tactics. We tried more drugs. We tried everything we could for an hour. She refused to get on the trailer. All of us understood what we were seeing and it was now our turn to face the truth of what Mystic really wanted. She didn’t want to leave the farm. She was home. We promised her she’d never have to leave again. And she held us to that promise. Mystic was not wanting to face another fight. She was not up to the challenge. She did not want to die away from our farm. We make a commitment to each and every animal who enters this farm. We pledge to them that this is their call. It’s not about our vision of what their lives should look like. This is their life. We needed to give Mystic one final gift in life – to make the decision to stay and die with us, surrounded by her friends. It was incredibly difficult and painful for us humans, but Mystic was at peace with her decision. Mystic gave us one last gift to be sure we understood her message correctly. As we lead her away from the trailer and around our arena where all of our horses were watching from their stalls, she simply laid down. She was sitting sternal. Peaceful. Dignified. Quiet. And she refused to get up again. Mystic was steadfast in her message. I am not leaving. We honored her wishes and helped her to leave the body that was now not even responding to pain killers anymore. We set her free.

Mystic, we fell in love with all of you – your beauty, your resolve, your stubbornness, and your quirkiness. You taught us all a very valuable lesson about the danger of labels. You didn’t die a problem horse. In fact, you didn’t even die as a horse with problems. You simply came home – in all the glory that meant to you. Indeed, you found your place in life and we know you will forever be here – just as you wished. Run free. Rest easy. And please, whatever you do, remember always how much you are loved.

 

 

Charlie Brown - September 19, 2017

Charlie Brown

Today we unexpectedly lost our ever so beloved Charlie Brown. Charlie was 11 years old and spent the last 5 years with us. Many of you have enjoyed and cheered along with him as we have shared and posted many videos of his progress since he came to us. Charlie was a mess of orthopedic problems. He had bad knees, bad hips, and a bad back. He had undergone emergency surgery for a disc in his back and then had trouble recuperating from that surgery. He came here after it was determined he may never regain the use of his back legs again. But hard work on his part and our part paid off and Charlie eventually was able to stand on his own and for a while he could also walk on his own too. Most importantly, he was an exuberant happy boy.

Charlie lived by some very strong principles. He was strong willed and stubborn – which served him well during his rehab. But those tendencies also got Charlie into trouble sometimes. Charlie’s motto was: “If I have it, it’s mine. If you drop it, it’s mine. If I think it’s mine, it’s mine. And whatever you do, don’t take away anything that is mine.” Yes, at times he was a challenge. Luckily, bribery worked well and if he grabbed something he shouldn’t have, we could always offer a trade. One of Charlie’s favorite things to do in the fall was to walk down to the apple tree and steal apples. He also loved to think he could chase the ducks and chickens which worked to our advantage during his rehab walks if he thought he could catch a glimpse of a duck or two.

Charlie was not an easy dog to care for but he was a dog to love. He was a challenge to his caretakers. He sometimes was pushy. He many times was obstinate. But he was loved and cherished. Charlie did not like things to get too mushy. Yet, we knew he liked attention and to be doted on. We used to joke that Charlie had to have his wait staff throughout the day.

In keeping with Charlie’s wishes, we can’t get to mooshy in his memorial. But we can tell you how much he is missed. Many of you looked forward to the Charlie Brown Christmas videos that we posted each year. There was never a dog as exuberant as Charlie Brown in opening his Christmas presents. He enjoyed every single second and had all of us on the floor laughing with joy every time. I think we all enjoyed it as much as he did.

We are sure Charlie would like us to thank so many people that came to his rescue when he was in his darkest hours. We do not even know many of you by name. But we know he has friends in Texas who believed in him and saved him from euthanasia in a shelter. And then the folks at Cocker Pals in New York State offered him safe haven with them. We thank Dr. Paul Bookbinder and the staff of Upstate Veterinary Surgical Center for doing the surgery and weeks of after care in trying to get him back on his feet. And we thank them for sending him to us where he spent the remainder of his life.
Once here, Charlie bonded strongly with his most precious caretaker whose life he changed at a time most needed for her. Charlie thanks Crystal for all she gave to him and for seeing past his crankiness to the loving dog he was. And he leaves behind a team of caretakers who miss him dearly. He also leaves behind his dog friend Jake who misses him as well. We thank the veterinarians and staff of Village Veterinary Hospital who oversaw his rehab and literally got him back on his feet. And we thank them all for trying to save him when he suffered an unexpected health crises that he just could not overcome.

It took a huge team effort to make Charlie’s life whole. And in keeping with the theme, we simply have to say, “You are a good man Charlie Brown.” May you enjoy the freedom of running free.

 

 

Gypsy - September 17, 2017

Gypsy

Today is the end of an era here at Spring Farm CARES. The last of our original adult horses has left our physical embrace but remains in the fabric of this farm and in our hearts forever. Gypsy was with us nearly 30 years. She watched us dream the vision that would become Spring Farm CARES and she helped us make that vision a reality. She also leaves us with her hope and vision of the future of this farm and implores us to go on united with her with a plan for the next 30 years.

To know the heart of a horse is a unique and special privilege. To spend 30 years journeying together is an honor that is impossible to describe. The horses of Spring Farm CARES are here as teachers and guides and mentors. They are considered “broken” and “worthless” in their value as work or riding horses. But the horses here are recognized and valued for what they bring in their heart and soul. Horses carry an energy that runs deep into the heart of the Earth. They carry a wisdom that comes from deep within the stars. Some of them are never seen for who they truly are and the enormous gifts that they carry. But when they are recognized for who they are and they invite us humans in to their dance with them, the journey is amazing. Gypsy was one such horse.

30 years ago, Gypsy was a cast off from the Thoroughbred racing industry. Her story is too long to tell. But it was actually because of Gypsy and five other horses that we found the passion to create what now is Spring Farm CARES. She was not just an inspiration. She was a teacher and fellow founder of the very heart of what we do. Over the years, Gypsy helped us shape many of the pillars of our foundation.

Now, let us not paint a picture here that Gypsy was angelic or easy! In fact, Gypsy, was incredibly stubborn, strong willed, opinionated and demanding of a certain expectation of how horse and human were to behave in her presence. In other words, she was very domineering. For many years, it was hard to even say we really connected with her. She preferred to be out in her field with her horse friends and that was all that mattered to her. She was never mean or nasty. But life was on her terms and she had no problem expressing what those terms were. She was very clear. She was very fair. She was very….. Gypsy.

And for the past 30 years, we grew together. She taught us the very traits we needed to survive our early years of creating all of this. When we had doubts, she would demand to move forward. When we grew weary, she’d show us how to be strong in spite of it all. When the forces of nature seemed to work against us, she’d show us harmony and trust and she’d help us navigate it all. When people told us our dream was too big, she told us there is no such thing and never to listen to anyone who told us we couldn’t do it. And when we made mistakes, she was there to tell us and call us to task, and then invite us to all join together and move on – without judgment.

Gypsy grew into the position of lead mare after many years of being far back in the herd. It wasn’t a position she bullied her way into at all. It wasn’t even a position she aspired to have. It was a position bestowed upon her by the herd itself when they found themselves without a leader. Gypsy was voted in, reluctantly at first. But what a great lead mare she became. Gypsy rose to understand and feel her own greatness. She accepted her position. She blossomed and beamed and shined radiantly as the lead mare. And then she turned to us and said, “If I can do it, so can you. I lead by example.”

Gypsy had been failing for the past year. At 34 years old, she had outlived her entire original herd. She lost her eyesight two years ago and going out into the pasture became too stressful for her. She preferred to stay inside where she could more safely navigate around our arena. Her arena. Her barn. Amazingly, Gypsy still remained lead mare, managing from inside to her now newer/younger herd. It must have been hard watching all of her friends succumb to age and illness over the years. She had great friends and she bonded strongly with each of them. But Gypsy took what gifts they offered her in her life and held them deeply within her heart as each of them left. When the last of her friends was gone, she told us they were with her just as strongly as before because she could feel them and she knew her life was stronger and better for having known them.

So, today, we now say good-bye to the last of our original adult horses. And just as true to her life as always, Gypsy has given us the answer to what we need to do to go on. We know that she is with us just as strongly as before because we can feel her and we know for sure that we are stronger and better for having known her. We need only look around at this farm, at all of the horses who are here because of the space Gypsy has held for so long, and at everything Spring Farm CARES has become and the lives we have touched, to feel her. Indeed, Gypsy has left us the blueprint for the next 30 years. And knowing Gypsy, she has it figured out for the 30 years after that too.

You are a magnificent leader and teacher Gypsy. Run fast and free and fly into the stars – filled with the light of all of us who hold you forever in our hearts and walk forward knowing you are right here with us. We hope to do you proud.

 

 

Trigger - September 14, 2017

Trigger

Today we bid farewell to a very noble character named Trigger. Trigger was in his mid-30’s and had lived here with us for about the past 8 years. When we say that Trigger was a complex horse, we are not exaggerating. He had more health issues and concerns than any other horse in our barn. This made his care very complex. His life here for the past 8 years can be attributed to the amazing care he received from his caretakers and the entire veterinary team that kept putting him back together every time something else came apart. We all learned a lot from Trigger and because of him we have learned many skills that will serve many horses going forward with us. But, while all of these things are important, it does not do justice to who Trigger was and how he will be remembered.

Trigger was kind of like a reckless kid on roller skates. No matter what, he just kept flying forward on his skates, leaving the navigating of obstacles in his path totally to chance. He was often comical. He was very accident prone. And he had a way of blowing off the most serious of situations in his life, almost as if it was a comedy routine. We’d often get more bad news on a medical condition that would befall Trigger and stand and shake our heads as he would just toss it off and move on – as if to say, this doesn’t define me so don’t let it define the way you see me either. He could be standoffish at times. But yet, he was a gentle giant underneath it all. His way of showing affection was to rub his head into you and toss you off balance. It was just his way. He was a bit klutzy. He was a bit reserved. But always Trigger was true to who he was. He was honest. He was caring. He was unique in his own eccentric kind of way. And we are grateful to have spent the last 8 years trying to understand this complex fellow.

Yes, Trigger was a complexity of many things. He was a horse who could easily disappear into the background or slink back in the herd to be unnoticed. Yet, he was a horse who was deeply loved. We were all aware that Trigger’s physical condition had declined in the past year. He had recently suffered another injury creating a bone chip in one of his fetlock joints. He was on stall rest and Game Ready treatments and his condition was actually improving. However, another of his health issues lead to a sudden complication and he unexpectedly developed a fatal cardiac issue. His journey with us had come to an end and it was time to help him run free. We are sure that he had many horse friends in spirit awaiting his arrival. And we are certain he made a grand entrance – the way he always did. Godspeed Trig, may your journey be exactly the way you want it to be – joyful and with wild abandon.

 

 

David - August 23, 2017

David

Today it is with great sadness that we share with you the loss of our beloved cat David -  an amazing soul whose spirit continues on as the bright light who graced our lives these past few years. David leaves us with a legacy – reminding us why it is we are here and the magnitude of what it is we are here to do. Through David, we truly touched greatness and wisdom and love. David taught us, by his example, how to overcome the toughest fears and move forward in life. He showed us freedom through healing. He showed us great courage to trust again - even when it seemed trust could never be found. He taught us through example of how to face great adversity with love and compassion. He shared with us his heart – which was an honor he bestowed upon us that we have been most humbled to have held so dear. David indeed touched us deeply.

We often say that the stories of adversity that most of our animals have faced in life is not the focus of their lives. We often don’t tell their sad stories or plights to visitors who come to meet them because, while their stories are sad and tragic, the animals do not live from the focus of that tragedy. Once safe and loved they simply move on – it is something that always amazes us. Some of the most abused animals we’ve ever had here have been the most compassionate, loving, forgiving beings we have known. And through those traits, they teach us to be better, more compassionate humans. However, David’s story is worth telling because to understand his story is to understand his gift of healing – both for himself and for those whose hearts he touched.

David arrived at Spring Farm CARES in a humane trap about 3 years ago. He was trapped during a feral cat TNR clinic and was brought in to be neutered. The person who trapped him said she had never seen him at her feeding station before, but he showed up in the trap that morning. He was in bad shape. His tail was broken and had died and needed to be amputated. He appeared clearly to be feral and unhandleable. And he had other signs of injuries as well. The decision had to be made to euthanize him or send him off to our veterinary hospital for emergency surgery and treatment. Something told us to try to get him treatment, so we did. He had the tail amputated and we also received the bad news that he had a spinal fracture which left him bowel and bladder incontinent. His life was literally in our hands. If he wouldn’t allow us to handle him, we wouldn’t be able to express his bladder for him. It was possible that nerve function could regenerate and he could get better but we had to be able to handle him to treat him. For the first few weeks it was not looking good. David was not wanting to be touched. Clearly, he could not live this way. If we couldn’t express his bladder and keep him clean then he would quickly die from infection. The time had come to consider the decision to euthanize him.

Dawn (Animal Communicator and Co-Founder of SFC) went in to spend time with him as one last attempt to see what we could do. David allowed no one to get close to him or touch him. Dawn communicated with him the choice she now had to make with him. If he wanted to live, he needed to let us help him. If not, we would help him move on. The choice was his and we would honor whatever he chose. Dawn sat on a table near the shelf where David sat. She rested her hand on the shelf and just sat quietly without looking at him. David began to soften. He began to tell Dawn his story in pictures. Dawn could feel his sadness and how shut down he was. He was a cat who had given up on humanity. He had given up on life and he felt betrayed. He communicated that he had lived with a woman who loved him dearly. He loved to sit in her lap. Something happened to his human companion and she was taken away and never came back. A man came who he had seen before while visiting his human. He put David outside and then never came back. David couldn’t find food and he stayed at the door of his house for many days waiting for his human to return. But she never came back. He began to starve. He started a journey looking for food. He found a place where food was put out and there were many other cats. He began to eat there but the other cats ran him off. He got hit by a car and was badly injured and hunkered down under a porch for days. When he tried to come out, people chased him off. He was dirty and smelly and thin. That is when he gave up hope. Out of complete desperation, he went into the open trap in search of the food. He dragged himself in and ended up at Spring Farm. He flowed all of that information to Dawn and together they just sat there in silence.

In Dawn’s words: I felt in an instant the enormity of the heart of this cat as we sat together. I could feel his pain and his decision never to trust again. In one last attempt to help him, I asked him to trust me. I didn’t physically move toward him. I simply rested my hand a few feet away from him where he sat on the shelf. I breathed with him. I opened a door of communication and he entered. “I so loved my person,” he said.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” I answered. I could feel his pain and I just sat with him in that awareness.
“She loved this time of year. I loved to look at her decorations. It brought me such peace,” he shared. It was nearing Christmas as this took place.

“We could put up decorations in your room if you’d like,” I offered. “This could be your home if you’d like. But you need to let us help you. We can clean you up, help you relieve your bladder, and we can figure it out together.”

“I think I’d like that,” he said. “But I’m scared. I don’t know how to trust again.”

“I understand,” I told him. “I have often felt that way myself.”

We sat in that moment of togetherness. I wasn’t looking at him. I could simply feel him. I could feel his pain. I could feel his fear. And I felt him shift just a little bit. I also felt the enormity of the soul within this cat body and I liked him. In that moment, something happened that I will never forget. I suddenly was aware that he had moved closer to me on the shelf. In fact, I could hear him breathing. I didn’t look. I didn’t move. And a moment later, I felt the greatest gift of all. David reached out with his paw and wrapped his paw around my finger and slowly squeezed it. I closed my hand around his paw and we sat together like that in a moment of trust for both of us.

“I’d like your help,” he said. “Yes, I’d like to have this be my home.”

In an instant, I felt his joy. And I felt a wave of hope fill the room. I gradually moved my hand and he let me pet his head. He began to purr. And then he waivered a bit and got up and moved away.

The next morning, when the first animal caretaker of the day walked into his room to feed, David greeted her at the door. He ran up to her and began rubbing on her legs. She reached down to pet him and he pushed into her hand. David had made his choice. And from that day on, we were able to express his bladder 2-3 times a day without any difficulty at all. We decorated his room with Christmas decorations of all kinds and he loved to sit in our laps and purr. We could not possibly share with you the gifts that David offered so many of his caretakers. He was amazing. He was pure love and joy mixed with a pinch of bossiness. He kept the peace in his room of cat friends. And he did not tolerate disrespect for any of his cat friends by new comers. David was a gentleman with high standards. But mostly, David knew and understood he was loved. David had come home.

Today, David left our home after cancer had left his body weak and tired. Today, I felt that paw that wrapped around my finger three years ago and wrapped around my heart forever. And today I had to open my hand and let him go. His body may have left our embrace. But his heart lives on entwined with ours forever. Because David taught us to look past our own greatest fears and reach out to trust in something better. He taught us that change is not bad but is simply the path we are on. If we are moving and growing then change is inevitable and should be embraced, he taught us.

“How can we thank you David?” I asked him today as he left our embrace.
“Live. Love. Share. And remember that the greatest way to find yourself is through the trust and love and relationship you allow to enter your heart. It is not only important to listen. But it is important to speak. The world is waiting for what each of you has to say. But only you can say it.”

Thank you David. Your magnificent light will always fill this farm. You allowed us to help you, but what you did to help us was even more amazing.

 

Breezie - February 9, 2017

Breezie, Thoroughbred mare

It is hard to chronical a life that spanned 26 years in a short memorial. But it is imperative to the heart and understanding and growth of this farm to be sure to acknowledge and learn from each life that passes through our hearts. Today, we lost one of the founding forces of our organization. Breezie was born May 5, 1991, just as Spring Farm CARES was moving from it's conception to it's birth. We watched her enter our lives and, in turn, she spent almost 26 years changing our lives.

Breezie was a most incredibly gentle, kind, and loving spirit. As a foal, she was like a puppy and loved to follow people around and would even try to sit in your lap if you sat down in her stall. She was full of trust of life and her human caretakers and seemed prime to enjoy an amazing run in this world. However, as she grew, we came to realize that she inherited a trait from her mother which proved to make life difficult for Breezie – she was extremely accident prone. From early on, Breezie seemed to attract the most amazingly bizarre injuries. We’d often say if any horse can get hurt on something, it would be Breezie and her mother Babe. Unfortunately, several of those injuries drastically affected Breezie’s career as a rideable horse. In fact, the horse so trusting of life, by age two had started to question trusting anything or anyone anymore. The horse we could once do anything with utterly changed into a horse that was very hard to handle and eventually even difficult to halter. One day, when she was about 4 years old, Breezie decided that going outside of the barn always meant trouble. She flat out refused to leave the barn. And if we pushed the issue, she pushed back at us with equal force. She was not going outside. Obviously, this was not the life we wanted for her. What horse would even choose that life when a wonderful herd of horse friends on acres of pastures was just feet away outside the door? Well, Breezie chose not to participate in any of that anymore. She’d go as far as our indoor arena/stall area and that was it.

In May 1997, something happened that should never have happened here – but it did. Two of our horse caretakers at the time decided to show off for a new employee and said they were going to prove that they could get Breezie outside. They thought they knew better than Breezie. Just as she had done for two years, she stopped at the door to the outside of the barn and steadfastly refused to go out. But the humans ….. well, they knew how to outsmart her! Afterall, we humans always know what’s right. They hatched a plan for one of them to scare her from behind by hitting a garbage can with a whip so that she would bolt out the door. Unfortunately, when they did just that, Breezie did not bolt forward but reared up in the air and fell over backwards, slamming her withers hard on to the concrete floor. To make matters worse, she also hit one of the sliding stall door wheels. Several vertebrae slammed upwards, busting through her skin and breaking off into sharp fragments. Lots and lots of fragments. And all of the sawdust, dirt, hay and whatever else was on that floor went flying back inside of her along with the rest of the bones. Breezie had just sustained an injury that would be with her for the next 20 years of her life. It was the last straw. The final piece that proved unshakably to her that people could not be trusted and that bad things happened outside those doors. She would never even step near that door again. In fact, for about a year, she never even left her stall.

For 20 years, Breezie was at times a perpetual volcano of bone chip eruptions. She had a sterile abscess that never closed. Sometimes it got infected. She most every day had thick discharge that had to be cleaned and scrubbed off of her skin. In the beginning, she wouldn’t even let us touch her. Veterinarians were unable to treat her or sedate her. All of this because humans put their own egos and agendas ahead of what was right for Breezie. Breezie taught us all so many valuable lessons. She taught us all to listen. She showed us the importance of respect. And she reminded us every single day that these animals have their own paths in life. It is not about us molding them to the image we choose for them. It is about looking at each of them as feeling/thinking/loving individuals. Every single day she reminded us.

Breezie learned to open to trust again. It took years. It was totally on her terms. But she eventually not only let her caretakers clean her every day, but came to enjoy her time with them. However, she would not let us do any medical interventions of any kind. And we all kind of held a worry in the back of our heads about what would happen if something critical happened to Breezie and she wouldn’t let us help her.

The thing is that under all that fear, mistrust, and resistance, the real Breezie was still there. The kind, gentle, loving horse that came into this world was still in there – hiding from the world that seemed to betray her trust. A “normal” horse life was not a fit for her. While we bemoaned for years that we couldn’t give her a “normal” life, we finally came to realize that Breezie was extremely happy living THIS life. Indeed, she needed a small life. She was incredibly empathic and the bigger world was too much for her to filter and handle. She easily overwhelmed and shut down – and had accidents because she couldn’t think properly. Yes, Breezie actually had a very special gift that we fully discovered and began to understand a few years ago. Because of her exceptional empathic abilities, Breezie knew in an instant when there was anything wrong with any of the animals in the barn. And when she knew that, she’d begin spinning in her stall and whinnying at the top of her lungs. People would always come running. And after a couple of instances of this, we knew if Breezie did that behavior then someone in the barn was in trouble. Breezie helped us save the lives of 3 animals over ther years who went into anaphylactic episodes and would have been dead in minutes had she not alerted us to their crises. These would have been missed as no one was around to catch it. Breezie herself was not even in visual connection with these other animals. But she knew. That was how sensitive Breezie was. That was how amazingly special she was. To label her a difficult or “crazy” horse, as many did, was a complete misunderstanding of who she was.

Breezie was one of the most incredibly gifted and special horses to ever have graced this farm. In the past few months something started to change with her. She could no longer eat hay and we thought she had a bad tooth. So we fed her a hay free diet. Indeed a swelling showed up on her face and our vet thought for sure she had a tooth root abscess and we’d have to wait it out for the tooth to loosen up and fall out. Our vet after a long patient time with Breezie actually was able to get an injection of sedative in – and for the first time in nearly 20 years, she had a dental work up and a full physical. All seemed good. She seemed healthy. She had enough teeth missing that eating hay was not going to be in her future but she was fine with her new diet. We were excited that we were able to help her and she seemed to learn a new bit of trust with us again too. It was all good.

But Breezie kept slowly declining. We all knew something was wrong and we were missing something. This week, she suddenly stopped eating. Once again, she allowed the veterinarian to come sedate her. A catheter was put in so that we had a way to deliver medications to her in as unobtrusive a way for her as possible. She allowed all of that. She knew she needed help. All of her blood work was normal and at first our vet was at a loss for a diagnosis. After another day of decline, we sedated her again and took radiographs of her head, looking for a tooth root abscess. Only, this time, we found our answer. Unbeknownst to all of us, Breezie had been living with a major problem for some time. She had a huge mass in her sinus that took up a huge portion of the front of her head and it had even spread to a mass in her throat. She never let on to the pain she must have been in. She hid that from us all. We had reached the end of the road together. Breezie hated injections and being poked. It terrified her. But with the catheter already in place, we knew that we had one last way to help our friend. The moment we had all secretly feared would come was suddenly upon us. And thankfully Breezie would not have to be poked again. She was not afraid. She was surrounded in love. And she looked at each one of us over and over again as the veterinarian prepared the final injection. She studied us in great detail. And she looked at every inch of the barn.

“What are you doing?” Dawn asked her.


“I’m studying all of you and everything I love so dear so that I can remember every second and savor it forever.”

And it is with that peace, trust, love, and joy that Breezie left our embrace and went on with her friends in Spirit who she nickered to as she left her body. Her life wasn’t small at all. It was huge. And her impact on us, on this farm, and in all who we touch is enormous and will go on forever. Breezie, we are sorry for mistakes we made in the past. But we learned from you how to pick up and move on. You taught us so much and will be in our hearts forever.