There’s never a good time to say “good-bye” and nothing really makes it easier. Even when it comes to the last “so long, pal” for a horse that had already disappeared out of my life before. I grieved his loss for 15 years and when I came to terms with the fact that he was likely already dead, I finally moved on and allowed myself to heal. I didn’t get to say it to him in person when he left the first time but when my heart started to feel better, I whispered it to Knight in the dreams he visited me in. Not a day passed that I didn’t think of him and silently think to myself all that I had accomplished because he had touched my life. He was my angel. He taught me to spread my wings, how to fly and in the end, how to soar. Because of him, I’m still here. (read our story by clicking here)
After he magically reappeared in my life last month, I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable, the thought of losing him again. Surely it wouldn’t be as difficult. I’d already learned to live without him, I could do it again. Especially since I had one last chance for closure, I was given the gift of time to say that “good-bye” that I never got to say before. Tonight, I can honestly say that closure was not what I was looking for. What I needed was eternal life. I needed an old, decrepit horse to live forever.
When I got the call at 11:30 this afternoon, I left work and rushed to the barn. I made it there by 11:45 or so and the vet was there soon after. Knight’s vitals were checked and his breathing was labored, his head bobbed, he dripped sweat, his heart raced and he was in obvious pain. A rectal examination found that he had a severe intestinal blockage about 90 feet into his intestines. He was tubed with mineral oil and treated for colic. I asked the vet if we were doing everything we could and he said that surgery wasn’t recommended due to his age but we could try a “belly tap”. I agreed and the vet inserted a needle into Knight’s stomach. He explained that the fluid he would be drawing out should be a wheat color and any other color would show signs of other problems that could have led up to the intestinal blockage. When he pulled back on the plunger, the syringe filled with blood. Knight had bled internally for probably quite a while. The vet said that the gut is one of the first things to fail when a horse is bleeding inside and that was the case with Knight. An IV was administered and Knight received injections of a pain medication equivalent to Morphine and injections of sedatives to try to calm him down. The vet left and after about an hour, I got worried and I thought he should come back out and that maybe we should put him down so he wouldn’t suffer. While I thought that I had come to terms with it, the vet thought otherwise and he said that he just couldn’t stop when I wasn’t ready and he didn’t think Knight was yet either. He hung more bags of fluid and left again.
Around 5, I finally left the barn and Larry stayed with Knight while I went to get the boys from school. On the way to the barn, I tried my best to explain what was happening and that I thought it was time for the boys to tell Knight “good-bye”. Paris was heartbroken and refused to leave the barn. He just kept saying over and over, “I’m not leaving so you might as well get it out of your head. I’m sleeping here with you and Knight.” After much struggle, we finally got a bawling Paris to leave the barn.
I settled in my chair, right inside Knight’s door, resigned to my post until the time that Knight got better or he left me. I would not leave him in his time of need, I planned to see this through, no matter where it was going. That horse never left me when I needed him and it was about time that I paid him back for saving me all those times.
Just after 8, one of Knight’s former owners came to the barn to see him. She had seen my post on Facebook and rushed out to the barn. Thankfully, she was there or I would have been all alone. I was blessed to have her there for Knight and I, all the way through the end. Some may think it odd that I had a perfect stranger sitting with me but this wasn’t about me, it was about Knight. She was a part of his life just as much as I and she loved him just as much.
At 9, Knight became listless and he began to back around his stall. At 9:30, I was at my wit’s end and I thrust a carrot at him and told him, “You HAVE to do this! Eat this and get better right now!”. He looked at me like a scorned child and he leaned out and reluctantly took the carrot and ate it.
By 10, exhaustion had set in and I had finally come to terms with the fact that the situation wasn’t improving, it was getting worse. Knight could barely keep his eyes open and he was starting to fall against the stall. I made the horrible decision to end his suffering and I called the vet back out. He said he’d be at the barn in 40 minutes.
I guess Knight was paying attention and he was waiting for me to come to terms with what was happening. Within minutes of me calling the vet, he moved to the front of his stall, directly in front of the door and as close to us as he could get and he laid down. He rubbed his head across his soft shavings one last time, he closed his eyes and stretched out his legs and then he was gone. He took his last breath as I held his head and stroked his face and as his former owner stroked his neck. Both of the little girls that he raised were with him when he left.
My angel left me for the last time tonight. At 10:15, he laid down and was gone. I think that even in his final hours, he thought of me and he tried to protect me. He fought hard, I think to give me time to be ready. And when I finally thought I was, when I had finally made up my mind, he spared me the pain of following through. He waited until I was ready and when I was, he was gone.
The heart doesn’t forget and mine will always remember a beautiful, black stallion who kept angel wings hidden under his mane.
I think my son said it best. He said,
“You know mom, when Knight dies, it’s never going to be dark again.” I asked him why and he said, “It will be impossible. When he’s in heaven his star is going to shine too bright.”
I’m already looking to the heavens and searching for the brightest star where I know my old fella will be shining brightly and watching over me for the rest of my life. Guess I’ll have to be investing in a telescope. How else will I solve all of life’s problems?
Try as you may, it’s impossible to get over one monumental moment in your life. You can ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t exist but somehow, it’s always there, in the back of your mind and weighing on your heart. They say that true love comes along but once. For me, it’s come along more than that. They say that there is one soul mate out there but for me, I know that there are more. Problem with all of this is that I just have to be different from “the norm” or “what’s supposed to be”.
Fifteen years ago, I lost my very best friend. While everyone is quick to imagine my best friend dying or moving away, my story is different. Fifteen years ago, my best friend was taken from me and he was sold while I was away visiting my mom.
Many of my readers are personal friends of mine, who know about my past and my childhood. But for each that knows my story, there is one that doesn’t. To sum it up, my childhood was terrible thanks to the pummeling fists and lashing words of my step-dad. When I was called a “stupid bitch” or I was punched, I’d gather my composure and I would run to the solace of my best friend. When I was recovering from surgery to repair my face after my step-dad kicked it in, I had a best friend that didn’t laugh at me when he saw me. He accepted me for who I was, just a girl. Together, we could do anything. He was my rock, my love and my everything. My best friend was a black Arabian stallion. While so many of my friends were dreaming of beautiful, galloping horses, I lived the dream. With him, I was indestructible. With him, I could pick myself up and ride off into the sunset.
For 13 years, I had my best friend by my side and then one day, he was gone. His disappearance was one of the cruelest things I’ve ever had to make it through. Hell, it was even worse than a broken face. Throw all the horrible words at me, smash my face into a bloody pulp, stab me in the back with a pitchfork… none of that was worse than losing my horse.
After I found out about my husband’s affair, I grabbed my son and I headed to visit my mom out-of-state. While I was gone, my ex decided that it was time to liquidate some assets and the first thing that he started with was my horse. MY HORSE. The horse that I had raised, the horse that I halter broke, that I broke to ride, that I trained and that I even went on to win at The American Royal with. I came home and my horse was gone. I called the Registry immediately and I told them that he had been stolen. I told them that I could prove that I was out-of-state and that I hadn’t signed any papers transferring him over. I begged to know the name of the person that bought him but they couldn’t tell me anything. Then they told me that because of how I had added my husband’s name to the registration papers, I had sealed my fate and everything was legal. Sadly, it was true.
Of course, my husband wasn’t forthcoming with any information on who bought my horse so I watched and waited for his ownership to be transferred. The minute that it happened, I searched for phone numbers so I could call the owner but I couldn’t get anywhere. All I had was a name, a name that haunted me every moment of every day. Years passed and I kept searching.
In 2005, 7 years after he was sold, I finally found a phone number for the man who purchased Knight. I played out the conversation in my mind a billion times and finally one day I called him. The man on the other end of the line was as nice as could be. He listened to my story and then he told me to “come on out and visit”. I loaded up and was there in an instant.
As I walked into the barn that day, the dust particles caught in the sun’s rays and they twinkled like stars. When the stall door slid open and I laid my eyes on him, I could see that he recognized me. When I leaned my hand out for him to smell me, he pushed away and walked past it, directly up to me. He looked me in the eye and in an instant, his neck stretched out and his head draped across my shoulder and he hugged me, just like he had done a billion times before.
Walking away from the barn that day was the hardest thing. His owner loved him and they were happy. I tried as hard as I could to be happy for them but I couldn’t. My heart ached.
All of these years have passed and I couldn’t forget about my beloved horse and the chunk of my heart that he took with him when he left. I thought of him often and told anyone that would listen just how amazing he was. Because no other horse could ever compare, I never owned another one. Nothing would ever be the same.
In January, all of that changed when a beautiful and obnoxious Arabian colt came into the world. It changed because I allowed it. When I heard that he was coming, I asked my mom if I could have him. The colt, was a great-grandson of my best pal. I told myself that a horse would be nice now and I promised myself that enjoying one would never mean that I loved Knight any less. The day the colt was born, I couldn’t believe it. Not only did he come out a stud but he was also black, just like his great-grandfather. He was perfect.
We picked Ziggy up on a rainy day in May. From the moment my hand touched him, I knew that my life would never be the same. It was like Knight came back to me. The feeling was mutual and we bonded instantly. While life is insane and incredibly hectic now, it is finally complete. That was, until today.
Out of nowhere, I got a call today from Knight’s current owner. He said that he needed to find a home for him and he thought that I would be a good fit. He said “come get him”. What? What just happened? Is this some type of joke? I said, “He’s still alive?”. It’s all I could think to say. For the whole conversation, I was in shock. What? After all these years, he can come home to me?
When I hung up the phone, I was still in shock. And then, it hit me like Hurricane Katrina. I was devastated. How could something that I dreamed of and longed for cause me so much pain? How could the thought of being reunited with my best friend be anything but joyous? And then, the tears came. Sobs that shook my body and made my hands tremble and my knees give way when I tried to stand.
After 15 years away, my boy can come home to me? What for? To die? He’s 28 and not in the best of health… so what the hell am I doing by agreeing to pick him up?
I have to take deep breaths and slowly count to 10… and then 1,000.
Yes, I am bringing him home with me. Yes, I’m bringing him home to die. Yes, we don’t have much time. But more importantly, yes, my best friend is coming home. After all, it’s the way it always should have been.
To every girl that waits for her “Knight in Shining Armour”, keep the dream alive. I had given up but now, my “Knight” is coming home. Hang in there SG Black Knight. We’ll be together before we know it. Our story will have the ending that it was always meant to have. We began our lives together and so we shall now end it that way. Our final chapter has only begun…
To see photos of our reunion, visit: http://www.fixyourimages.com/the-heart-doesnt-forget-sg-black-knight-returns-to-his-best-friend-a-tale-of-an-unstoppable-love-bond-between-owner-horse/#comment-165
April Fool’s has always been like a special holiday for me. I’m really a 12-year-old trapped in the body of an adult. I’m obnoxious, annoying, gossipy and I still laugh hysterically at fart jokes or when I hear the word “penis”. This day has always been about me taping the phones in my office down so when they rang, no one could pick them up or even, I once flipped over someone’s desk and I put all of their drawers in upside down, flipped the desk back over and then when they opened their drawer, everything fell out on the floor. This day has always been great… until today.
If you follow my blog or catch me on Facebook, you know that my mutt of 13 years had a biopsy done last week for a tumor that the vet suspected was cancerous. After a week passed with no results, I decided to call the vet today. When I called, the receptionist told me that the results were in but that I would have to talk to the vet. Kind of unusual when I am friends with the techs there. Of course, I went into panic mode immediately. Then, I waited for the call, dreading every passing minute. After what seemed like an eternity, the phone rang.
What I dreaded the most was flashing through my head and for a minute, I missed what the veterinarian was saying. When I slowed my brain down, I heard what I didn’t want to ever hear. “It’s cancer.” Everything else in the world went black and the rest of the conversation became a jumbled mess that I am still trying to sort out. (I did manage to write notes but it does me no good because I left them at work.) What I do remember is, my very, very best friend has cancer. For the people out there “in the know”, the vet said the margins were good (which she said means that they believe they got the cancer which caused the masses) and that the pathologist believes that Bowser has low-grade oral melanoma.
At this point, we can choose one of 2 options. The first is to proceed with an aspiration of the lymph nodes (cytology). They would go in and remove some of the fluid in Bowser’s lymph nodes and then send it off to the pathologist. Only then would we know what stage the cancer is. Or option #2: do nothing. The vet said that some owners decide to not do the aspiration. I guess I can maybe understand that. We already know it’s cancer, why put the dog (and us) through more?
If we move forward with the cytology and the cancer is aggressive (which most oral melanomas are very aggressive), Bowser would have a referral to an oncologist who would then do an ultrasound of his abdomen and some X-Rays. Treatment for the melanoma is a vaccine which is delivered via a Canine Transdermal Device every two weeks for 4 treatments (each cost min. of $650). After the fourth dose, Bowser would receive an additional dose every 6 months for the remainder of his life. This treatment was approved in 2010.
On a hot August day many, many years ago, I happened upon a tiny, toothless puppy that was dumped in a gas station parking lot. Grieving after the loss of a pregnancy, I longed to play mother to something, anything. Seeing an animal in need, there was no question that I would scoop him up and take him home. Thirteen years later, that little brown mutt has been my savior, my confidant and my most dearest friend. His tongue has licked away more tears than one could imagine, his paw has laid atop my hand through the loss of two more pregnancies and his strength has given me courage. Bowser has lived in numerous places but he’s always been right by my side. My beloved Pibble (pit bull/mutt) has helped me raise 3 beautiful boys and a deranged feral kitten (who is now 2) and he did it all with patience and understanding. He’s not-so-willingly shared his home with a never-ending list of animals in need and regardless of how much I smell like another dog, he has always loved me just the same. I think he’s always known my calling for animal rescue and while he isn’t happy about it sometimes, I hope that he knows that I do much of it because of him. Somewhere out there, every lost or forgotten pet has someone who needs them, they just don’t know it yet.
I can speculate and say that I don’t know where I would be without Bowser but I’m pretty sure that I would have missed out on one of the greatest parts of my life. I’ve had the best, best friend anyone could have. While I don’t know where this path will take us and I’m not sure what to decide, I know this much, this dog will always hold my heart in his paws. A few years ago, I broke down and got a tattoo on my right wrist. The significance? The tattoo was a living memorial to my best friend. Inside a simple filigree heart is a paw. The tattoo is a reminder that no matter where life takes me, my best friend will always be inside my heart and right by my side, pulling me in the right direction. I guess I never understood how much this tattoo would prove true.
While our days are good and relatively normal right now, I’m going to try not to think of what time we have left or of how bad things can (and probably will) get. I’m going to try not to over-react and I’m going to try very hard to live in the moment of every second that we have together. For now, I’m going to remember to laugh in times like this. I mean, he did just fart when he stood up. These are the moments of our lives.
P.S.: if there are any dog-biting vampires out there, I can think of a pooch that should live forever. Where’s Edward Cullen when you need him?
My best friend is pretty special and he’s way cooler than your best friend.
My best friend leaves muddy paw prints through my house and permanent paw prints on my heart.
My best friend is hard of hearing when I yell at him but he can hear a cheese wrapper open in the next town.
My best friend passes no judgment on me when I’m at my worst, even though he knows I judge him every time he eats cat poop.
My best friend always forgives me even though I’m not so quick to forgive his love of used tampons.
My best friend showers me with kisses… after he’s been licking his butt.
My best friend destroys many of the possessions that I own but he replaces them with the best repayment of all… love.
My best friend never smells good, especially after a rainy day.
My best friend shares my love of the old sitcom Alf and he proves it by being in character and trying to eat cats.
My best friend always tries to play with me, even when he doesn’t feel his best.
My best friend never hesitates to sing along to whatever I am singing to.
My best friend never leaves me hanging when I try to give him a hi-five.
My best friend is eager to meet my friends and he shows it by sniffing their crotch and then offering to shake their hand.
My best friend loves the taste of trash.
My best friend never growls, even when I dress him up like a devil for Halloween or when I put a hair tie on his ears and call him “Onion head”.
My best friend listens to everything that I say and then he goes and finds something else to do.
My best friend licks away all of my tears. Who needs a Kleenex when you have a great buddy like that?
My best friend leaves skid marks on the carpet but surely it’s only because he knows the carpet is brown.
My best friend has the worst breath imaginable. But who could have good breath after eating all the trash, tampons, cat poop and doggie ass?
My best friend is scared of snowmen.
My best friend expects a treat when he comes back inside from going to the bathroom. It teaches me a life’s lesson. Out with the old, in with the new!
My best friend is 80 pounds (75 on a skinny day) of pure sexy.
My best friend proves all of your stereotypes about Pitbulls wrong.
My best friend can only sleep on a pillow because the floor just isn’t good enough.
My best friend gives me more joy than a million dollars could ever buy.
My best friend knows how to melt my heart… and then make me hand over my Skittles.
My best friend’s favorite flavor is red. Red Twizzler’s, red Skittles, red gummy bears, red suckers. RED
My best friend makes me laugh even when all the world around me says that I should cry.
My best friend helped me raise 3 children. He also helped me mourn the loss of three babies that never made it here to meet him.
My best friend is the best brother ever, even if it is to 3 humans.
My best friend doesn’t have to update his Facebook status for me to pay attention to him.
My best friend could never cut his hair without me noticing because if he did, I would be like “WTF, how did you cut your hair?”
My best friend is the best “best friend” I could ever ask for and he’s my DOG.
I can say it, I’m a hypochondriac. Most of the time. I worry about things that are out of my control, I fret, I freak out and I imagine the “worst case scenario” in most situations. I’ve never been a “glass his half full” sort of girl. So of course, any possibility that I can jump to conclusions, I will. My hope is that this time, I’ll be wrong and all of my worst fears will not come true. I have to hope, I have nothing else to do.
On Saturday, I took my best friend of 13 years to the vet. Okay, my best friend isn’t human. So, sign number one that I may not be “all there” upstairs. But if you had any idea just how amazing my best friend is, you would understand. Anyhow, my worst worries about the appointment for a routine check-up were that a) my dog would be an ass and b) that there is always a chance that my dog could have heartworms or worms. For a 13-year-old dog, I’m thankful that is all I typically have to worry about. It could be worse. He could be dead, he could have some type of disease, a billion things could be wrong. Thankfully, we have been pretty fortunate.
As Bowser was getting checked out, his veterinarian went to check his mouth. I wasn’t paying too much attention until I saw Dr. Carr open his mouth again. The look on her face told me that something was wrong. Then, I heard what I would never have imagined I would hear. “Bowser has a growth inside of his mouth and it’s pretty consistent with aggressive Melanoma (cancer). We need to get that removed and biopsied as soon as possible.” My heart sank and bile rose up into my throat. I did the best I could to hold my composure while she explained everything and while she finished up his exam. The doctor asked me to go out to the waiting room and sit while she prepared a quote for surgery to remove the mass and to have it sent for a biopsy. I sat there stroking Bowser’s scruffy neck while I waited for Dr. Carr to come back out. In my head, a billion things were running through and I kept thinking back to the fact that when he was at the vet in late August for a dental exam and a broken tooth, there was no mass there. Dr. Carr had confirmed as much. I already was jumping to conclusions and I had convinced myself that the cancer had to be aggressive to have appeared that quickly and to have already turned his mouth black.
The doctor came out with the estimates for surgery and we discussed the options and I promised to call her soon. Bowser was already scheduled for boarding there while I’m out-of-town for a seminar so I told her I would think about how soon we could get him in. If you’re a pet owner, you already know that surgery and pet care doesn’t come cheap. But while animals are expensive, the love and companionship that they give makes everything worth it.
I loaded Bowser up in the Yukon and I headed home. As much as I told myself that I wouldn’t cry, I felt the tears running down my face as I shifted into gear. I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot before I broke down. Eager to comfort me, Bowser stood with his front paws on the console and he stuck his cold nose in my neck. While normally he paces and runs around the car like a moron, he didn’t do it this time. He stood on the console until I got onto the highway and then he laid down in the backseat and he watched me. Bowser never lays down in the car… ever.
When we got home, I tried to not be sad because I knew that my 2 youngest kids would be sitting in the living room waiting for their beloved pooch to come home. I got Bowser inside and the boys attacked him, eager to give hugs and to ask him how things went. As I motioned for Larry to come outside and I sent the boys to their room to play, I saw Paris give Bowser a kiss on the head and then he walked off. I told Larry what happened and he of course, told me not to worry because we didn’t even know anything for sure.
It’s been 2 days since I heard the vet tell me that my BFF could have cancer. Two days and still I tear up at the thought of him or what we are about to go through. I haven’t had time to write in months but really, it hasn’t just been because of the time, it’s just as much about emotion as it is anything. Right now I am filled with so much sadness that all I really want to do is curl up in the fetal position and type until my fingers are numb. I have so much to say, so much to tell the brown mutt that stole my heart so long ago but he would never understand. All he understands is that the trash can is filled with pure heaven, his family loves him and spoils him and that candy tastes amazing. His little brain could never comprehend just how devastated I am at the thought of him suffering or even worse, of him being gone. And he sure as hell won’t understand how I am sitting here with all the contents of my trash can at my feet and that I haven’t yelled at him yet.
I wonder if I even fully understand just how much he means to me.
Bowser is scheduled for surgery next Friday. If you are the praying kind, please keep him in your prayers. If you don’t pray, we can use all the well wishes and luck in the world.