We have come full circle . . . a full year since I was given Ashke.
In retrospect, I wish we could have picked him up in January. If we had known or been told that he was starving to death in their pasture, we would have made different plans. Perhaps then he wouldn't have spent the winter shivering in the cold. Perhaps I should have listened better, because I suspected something was wrong when they wouldn't send pictures. I think you hope for the best though, when an instance like this occurs.
I saw Steve and Michelle on Saturday night at the Holiday party for my company. I was polite but did not stay to chat. They did not ask about him. There was no talk of horses or Ashke. No jesting about giving away another animal. I couldn't tell if it was embarassment or complete disregard. I honestly didn't stay around long enough to find out. It's just as well, since I didn't have to bitch-slap anyone.
I wonder if Ashke knew . . . if the hope of someone coming to rescue him was what kept him alive. I can't imagine how dark and dreary his days were, without someone for him to believe in. Perhaps the wind whispered to him that if he held on long enough, I would come. I would come with food and shelter and a thick blanket. That he would no longer be weak or hungry or cold. That his needs would be met with warmth and extra food, with companionship and love.
Perhaps the future can call to the past and carry a message of what can be if you just hold on long enough.
Erin Ralston believed so. He believed that the child of his future, borne to his wife after he lost his arm, came to him in a waking dream while he was pinned to the wall of the slot canyon by his rotting arm. It was what gave him the strength to cut himself free and then hike seven miles with an amputated arm to find help.
Might Ashke have experienced some of the same thing? I could hope that the dream of warm bran mash, carrots, peppermints and a place of his own where he didn't have to fight for his food kept him company during the dark and bitter winter months he had to endure. I could hope that the thought of his teeth being fixed, his feet being balanced and the chiropractic care he has received kept him going through the pain of being so cold he shivered. I hope he knew I was coming.
Ashke seemed to recognize me when I first walked up to him. I think he knew I was there to rescue him and that the dream of plenty of hay, fresh water, and loving care was about to become reality. Something kept his heart whole and open and so full of giving I can't begin to put it into words.
I think Erin was right.
I was sickened by the actions of Steve and Michelle. It makes me feel angry and nausiated at the same time. I can not believe the callous disregard some people have toward the animals they are given. I am not an advocate for the philosophy that you should elect to pursue all medical avenues to keeping an animal alive, but I am an advocate for people meeting the most basic of needs for the animals they are entrusted with: food, shelter and basic care. Once you have an animal you have tamed, you are responsible, regardless. You are responsible for their lives. You are responsible for taking care of them until you can't any more. And if you can't, there are options. They can't have believed that the shape Ashke was in was acceptable.
"One only understands the things that one tames,. . . if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed." --The Little Prince