Spring Farm CARES Animal and Nature Sanctuary
Animal Memorials 2017
September 15, 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.


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.