Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sadness and Relief

Or maybe this should be titled relief and sadness.

It started with Cali getting sick. She was running a fever, had some swollen glands and green snot running from her nose. We discovered her illness during a lesson with Cassandra. N got her on antibiotics and she got about three weeks off, all told.

Cassini was next. Fever of over 105. No other symptoms and you couldn't tell he was sick. He had it for over a week. Off his food a bit, but not horrible.

Then Pico and Ashke. Ashke was in the upper 102's, but never really went off his feed or acted sickly. Two days and the fever was gone. Pico lasted a couple of days longer, and then nothing. The four horses who had gotten sick either stalled next to each other or were in turn-out together. Not a surprise it went through the group, but no other horses showed any symptoms

Dr Long told us it was a mild touch of Rhinovirus, at the tail end of our vaccine cycle, probably brought on by the psychotic weather. It seemed like only those four horses were going to get sick.

Then last Saturday, Jasmine got sick. Jasmine was an almost 24 year old QH mare, who had been the center of Julie's world for 22 years. Dr Long was called and an antibiotic prescribed. Saturday afternoon Sherl asked N to go talk to Julie, because she was really worried about her mare. Where N goes, I go. Jasmine was on the same side of the barn as Ashke, all the way at the end.

When we got there, Jasmine was down and groaning a little. She didn't look like she was in pain, but she sounded confused and distressed a little bit. We talked to Julie about the virus we had experienced and tried to give support. It's so hard when our animals get sick, because you just never know. Dr Long finally got there and with some effort he got Jasmine to her feet. They striped the blanket she had on off of her, finding her sweating lightly underneath. He gave her a couple of shots and drew some blood, then told Julie to take her out and walk her a bit. The mare was staggering and unable to really control her hind legs when they came out of the stall.

It was terrifying to watch. I knew it wasn't good, but had no idea what it could be. The look in Julie's eyes was heart-breaking.

Dr Long realized Jasmine was a lot sicker than he had thought. They got her turned around and back in to the stall. As she went in through the door she hit her hip on the jamb and it threw her completely off balance. She just never regained her balance, even after spinning in a circle for several moments. She went back down. She was down on the straw without hurting herself, but she made no attempt to stand again. Dr Long said that sometimes the Rhinovirus has a neurological effect.

I went home and did some research. Was reassured by Cassandra that because of the fever, if the neurological form of EHV-1 was going through the barn that Ashke was one of the safest horses. I called and asked on Monday morning if Jasmine was still alive. She was but the prognosis wasn't good.

I saw Julie on Monday night. She was exhausted and devastated. Jasmine was worse and we still didn't know what the issue was. There was lysol and hand sanitizer all over the barn, so owners could disinfect after handling their horses, to try and minimize the spread of whatever it might be. There was a twinge of fear and anxiety over every thing. I fed the horses I was responsible for, then went to give what comfort I could.

I spent about an hour with Julie and Jasmine. Julie was considering putting Jasmine down, but she seemed comfortable to me and warm, plus she was still eating and drinking. She was also talking to Julie and seemed much more comfortable with Julie in the stall with her. Jasmine asked for a drink. Sherl and I managed to raise her head high enough off the ground that Julie was able to put the bucket under her nose and let her have a good drink. Julie asked what I would do and I asked her what Dr Long recommended. Dr Long had said to wait until the morning. I figured that meant he was waiting on the blood work before proceeding. I told Julie that if it was me, as long as Jasmine was eating and drinking I would wait until Dr Long made the call. She seemed more at peace with her decision.

The blood work came back negative. There was no virus or disease. The best guess Dr Long has is that she had an aneurysm in her brain or spine that left her paralyzed. Julie was with her when they let her go.

Relief there was no serious virus going through the barn. Relief that it was just old age and the inevitable turning of the wheel. So very sad that Julie lost her companion of twenty two years. Some comfort in knowing there was nothing that could be or could have been done. Glad I was able to help her get a final drink, since she was so thirsty. Wish I could have had more words of comfort for Julie.

I know how hard that decision is. I made it when I thought Ashke was dying of colic. I've made it three times with my dogs in the past couple of years. Will have to make it again some with one very old dog and two old cats. It sucks. Every time it sucks.

Very thankful I didn't have to make it with Ashke this week.

So relieved.

But very sad.


  1. so sad. my old guy is 25 this month and I hate to think about something like that. But on the positive side it sounds like she had a long and wonderful life.

  2. SO very sad. Hoping that the horses stop spreading the fever and this is an occurrence no one has to experience again any time soon.

  3. Oh, many mixed emotions. Glad it wasn't a contagious virus but so sad for the loss of a sweet old horse.

  4. How absolutely heart breaking. I am glad that it wasn't something contagious, but I am so sorry for Julie :(

  5. Oh how awful! I'm glad it wasn't the virus, but I'm so sorry for Julie. Sometimes it's easier when we know it's coming, when we know they have something terminal and we're just waiting for when the moment comes when they're having more bad days than good days and we can set them free. When having to make that decision comes upon us suddenly it can be so incredibly heartbreaking.

  6. Gosh, what a scary situation. What a terrible thing to have to go through.