This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for our neighbours. This summer and fall have been times of trouble for all of us in this farming area. Way too much rain to get in fields. Not enough sun to make hay. Tractors stuck in mud. Equipment breaking down. We’ve had all of that, and neighbours have bailed us out time and time again.
We have also had animal losses. Again, neighbours bailed us out. We had to say goodbye to one of our horses, our beloved Jerry. His doctor diagnosed renal failure. His time was short.
Making the decision to euthanize a horse is as emotionally fraught as it is for any beloved pet. But the practicalities are more complex. If you are able, as we are, to bury them on your property, you have to make those preparations beforehand. Fortunately, our equipment cooperated in doing that. People came anyway, and helped.
Few horses live alone. If, like us, you only have one other, you have to think about that horse beforehand as well. Jerry and Oscar were inseparable. We knew Oscar had to have a replacement companion immediately.
Neighbours stepped up with offers of horses who could come for whatever period of time we needed. A mare named Charm arrived within minutes of Oscar being alone. He had already worked himself up to fever pitch. But the sight of horses coming toward his field gave him something else to think about. Watching them adjust to the new arrangement, and doing so ourselves, took everyone’s mind off our huge loss.
It hits you, of course, every time you look at Jerry’s stall, at his name plaque that one of his former riding students made for him. When you clean his brushes and blankets and write a new name on them. But Jerry’s name will always be there too, just like he’ll be in the hearts of so many.
I’m also thankful for the Saint John SPCA. They kept two little dogs for several months, waiting for a home where they would go together. Two years ago, we became that home. One was a Chihuahua mix, not a breed either I or my husband had ever sought out. But Chase became the best little farm dog there ever was. And I became a Chihuahua person.
A month ago, we lost him to bladder cancer. We and his brother miss him. So do the barn cats, despite – or because of – him chasing them every chance he got. We all are thankful for the time we had with him.
The point of the day is to give thanks for everything we have. We are thankful for having had two remarkable animals, Jerry and Chase, in our lives. And we’re thankful that a new horse is willing to settle in with us.
It’s also a time to give thanks for those who help. We have truly been blessed. Our veterinarians, from Dairytown and Hampton Animal Hospitals, made difficult decisions easier to get through. Neighbours, family and friends have shared their knowledge, tools and support. Like they do, always. Thank you all.
- Jerry and Oscar tells the beginning of their story with us. The value of old farm equipment is in The Old Baler, which once again this year saved the day.