Today we want to celebrate, remember and announce that Ozzie, one of our previous four legged staff members, has passed away. He was a valued member of our equine team and served the girls so well. He retired a couple years ago and went to live on beautiful farm to enjoy the rest of his life. He was taken care of by an amazing soul, Belinda, and she provided love and support for him all the way until his last days. She wrote these beautiful words about him and we would like to share them with you.
I received your call this week regarding Ozzie. Enough time (about a month) has passed that I can talk about him. You know how hard it is to make that final decision with horses.
Ozzie was like a big yard dog, followed me everywhere, always came when called and was eager for physical contact. Everyone who met him loved him.
My goal has been to keep weight on him as best I could. After consulting the vet at his semi-annual visit last year, in the late winter, I’d begun to feed him at least 3 times a day and often 4 times a day. Ozzie of course, loved it! He liked to eat. But his molars were gone so he only mouthed his hay. So it was Triple Crown Senior that kept him going and looking healthy for a long time. He did suffer one bout of lameness that had no outcome, but we went to the vet and everyone else suspected an abscess, though it healed without an eruption.
His feet were trimmed every 6–8 weeks and they were good feet! Whenever I rode Hawk, I ponied Ozzie: we rode on long established trails in the woods near my Dad’s house where I rode my horse growing up. He seemed to love it! And Hawk is such a good horse, he was fine with Ozzie tagging along behind or beside him.
Then in November of this year, Ozzie went lame again, favoring his front foot as the year earlier. This time he seemed to suffer a bit more, so I kept him medicated with bute. I separated him from the other animals and tried poultices, Epsom salts..etc. to draw out the possible abscess. This time, it erupted near the corona. I doctored on him daily, but he was losing weight. I fretted over his weight loss and eventually he began to lose interest in food. (His lameness nearly disappeared after the eruption of the abscess.)
I soaked his Triple Crown in molasses and even added Guinness draft beer in attempt to keep him interested in food. But he grew more listless and began to lose a lot of weight. I knew he was getting near the end. On his final day, December 4, 2017, he came over to greet me at the gate in the morning as always. But he had been lying down more and more. That morning his expression was one of “please let me outside” so I opened the gate and he actually trotted out. He went into the hay shed where he lay down. I went over and sat (cried) and talked to him. After a bit, he got up and started picking at some hay. He lay down again and I thought, well, he’s telling me he’s tired. I called the vet and they were to come out in the afternoon. Then I caved. I couldn’t do it. As you know, I live along with my animals (2 goats, 2 sheep, 8 chickens, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 bunnies and on this day 2 horses.) That means I don’t have anyone to help me make decisions except these beautiful creatures who cannot speak. I called the vet and cancelled the appointment — then went about my day.
Ozzie browsed about the pasture for the day. At evening feeding I went to the gate and he had lain down near the house at a spot where the horses (and others) often came to beg for treats. I called him but he didn’t get up. I walked down to where he lay and sat down with him, putting his head in my lap. He was tired. I called the vet and she came right on out. Ozzie had a peaceful exit from the our world. The next morning I had someone come and bury him at the spot in the pasture where he rested for the last time.
One of my favorite things about Ozzie was his elegance. When he stood with his ears pricked up, perfectly balanced, he was a very elegant gentleman. Despite his handicaps, he never lost that elegance and grace. You could look at him and see what a marvelous creature he had been in his younger life and often continued to be in his later life.
I learned a lot about how to live and age well from Ozzie.
Words cannot describe how lucky we are to have had Belinda take care of this sweet boy up until his last moments. We will forever be grateful for her diligence and unending love and care and for Ozzie’s contribution to our program and how he touched the lives of everyone around him.