The Hardest Fix of All…

Dedicated to my one and only, Aladdin.  Originally posted on one of the most difficult days of my life…


“Can you fix this, please…?”  How many times has your horse looked at you and said with his eyes, “Uh, would you mind ever so much as to remove this bucket from my ankle?…” or something to that effect.

We’ve all been there.  Awakened from a sound sleep in the middle of the night by incessant banging.  Bang!  Bangbangboom! Boombabang!  Oy, now what?!  You put your jacket over your nightie with your headlamp on tight and you run out to the barn.  There, standing by the gate is your forlorn and relieved pet, “I thought you’d NEVER get here!  Um, would you mind untangling my tail from the fence?  You see, I was itching and my tail got stuck around that post and…”.  You get the picture.  It is that look of total admission of the predicament which is so endearing.  I’ve seen it ample times and like any superhero, I always save the day — or at least THEY think so.

There was the time Finn was messing around too close to the fence and got his shoe caught on the bottom of the wire.  I had called everyone to dinner and Finn just stood there.  So odd…  He looked perfectly normal except he didn’t come to dinner.  I was thinking colic.  But, as I got closer, I saw that his hoof was tipped ever so slightly.  Upon closer inspection, I discover the snag.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  Finn: “Oops, I know, kinda dumb, huh?”  Me:  “OK, just stand there while I get something…”,  sweat poured down my face.  I was thinking he was going to jerk his foot at any minute and pull the fence down tangling himself into shreds.  Finn: “Hey, I’ve been like this for over an hour.  Another coupla minutes won’t be tough.  I’m fine.  You go get something to fix it.”  And, I did.

Taken on one of his last good days. You can see the scab over his eye from when he fell… He was losing control of his motor skills.

I’ve taken hot tape off of legs, feeders off of heads, tree limbs out of tails, pulled a zillion quills out of sensitive areas, washed off skunk, freed an inquisitive head from a narrow fence board, let a rogue horse out of the feed room after she opened the door and then it closed behind her, coaxed my Icy out of the tack room of my trailer and all the usual stuff that happens in normal horse life.

With Aladdin, my gelding who I mention often, we have gone through extraordinary predicaments.   I can remember several close calls.

  • Once, on a trail ride, we accidentally came between a bull elk, his cow and her babies.  Oy!  Aladdin froze.  FIX THIS PLEASE.  I turned him around so fast and we ran lower and faster than we had ever run before.  I swear, he looked up at me and said, “That was Coooooool!!”
  • We were up in the Oregon mountains when he was bitten by some flying thing.  I was riding him and he looked up at me as if to say, “I don’t feel right.”  I immediately got off.  His face was starting to expand – and then his body.  I put on his halter but it was squeezing his face like a string on a balloon.  I took that off, dumped his saddle and begged and cajoled him to follow me to the trail head.  What took 10 minutes to enter, took over an hour to exit.  Every step he willed himself to take – because I was asking.  When we got to the mouth of the trail I left him, ran like a maniac, got the trailer and put him in.  I careened down the hill into cell phone range and called the vet.  She met me somewhere on the freeway and gave him a shot right through the window of the trailer.  He survived, barely.  He was very grateful.  (Now we carry that shot with us at all times).
  • A while ago, he cast himself between the barn and an uphill slope.  He must have slipped in the mud, fallen down the hill and landed against the barn.  I found him at 1:30am.  He was there in my flashlight beam, moaning.  I had a heartshock for sure.  As always, I told him I would get help.  Frantically racing into the house, I called my wonderful friends who came right over.  Six of us got him unstuck.    In his eyes, I’m a miracle worker.

Last week, it happened again.  For no reason, he rapidly started to lose his motor control.  I called the vet.  We ran blood tests and EPM and all of the regular tests plus any other test we could…  Nothing.  We gave him every medication that ‘couldn’t hurt, could help’.  He wasn’t getting better.  I finally put him in the trailer before he was so bad that he couldn’t make the trip, and I brought him back to the equine hospital where he spent 9 weeks, 14 months ago.  They love him there and will do anything to help him.  Every day that I have visited him there this week, Aladdin looked at me as if to say, “This is irritating… Please hurry and fix this.”

But today, after all of us and all the medical minds around the country are exhausted, we have no idea what to do.  When I visited Aladdin this afternoon, he graciously took all of my snacks, but again looked at me with the most open and honest heart and asked, “Tell me straight, am I going to get better?”  I looked back at him and did what any great friend does for another.  I gave him the truth.  “No, buddy, not this time.”  He looked at me with total resolve and basically gave me the look that said he was done with feeling out of balance. He was done with being less than himself.  He was done not being able to prance around shouting, “I’m King!”  He was done.  So, he asked me, he said, “Well, can you fix it for me?”  And, with the reserve of a fighter pilot, I told him that, “Yes, my boy, I can fix this for you.”  He sighed as if to say,  “Good.  I knew you would.”  I hugged him for a very long time and he hugged me back.

My heart breaks but I hold onto the thought of how he used to snake his neck and run like a crazy horse and feel the wind and blow and scream and delight himself.  He is King.  He needs to feel that way again.

So, on the eve of the last day that the most wonderful horse on the planet stands beside me, I have agreed to the hardest fix of all.

Addendum:  I wrote this post on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday night, after my last visit with Aladdin, he passed on his own — in his stall at the hospital.  No pain.  He just laid down and checked out.  Good Boy, Aladdin… Exit gracefully, just as you lived your life.  All the best, my boy.  All the best.

That's my boy... Oh, I miss him.

That’s my boy… Oh, I miss him.

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24 comments have been posted...

  1. Karen

    The tears are just streaming down my cheeks. I can relate to you with your Alladin, and now we have a dog who is getting stoved up and sometimes his back end gives out on him. He too can give you “la look” when he’s on the downside or when I’m on the blue side. He can read me like a book. Now the time is fast approaching for him to go over the Rainbow Bridge and I can’t even fathom the thought of not having him any more. Here comes the tears again…..I can relate to the loss and pain and sorrow of missing past horses and pets and for me it doesn’t get any easier. Like before I just take one day at a time and try & focus on the good times mixed in with a good dose of tears. As the old saying goes “life goes on” and so must I. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share. I have to grab another kleenex.

  2. dawndi Post author

    OH my gosh!! Just letting you know that Aladdin was very clear in his message that it was his time. He was done.
    However, Mama Tess is very clear that it is NOT her time and she isn’t done. So, I support you in whatever you choose and
    I totally, totally understand. Breathe deeply and know you will be OK.

  3. shadowsrider

    Someone needed me to see this today. Thank you, I will let her go.

  4. Brenda Lee

    My heart ached right along with yours. They never leave our hearts. I too had the honor of owning a very special horse, that I then had to alleviate his suffering… Sounds like Aladdin, Fixed it for You! He didn’t want you to suffer anymore either… Sorry, to say Welcome to the Club…

  5. Donna Meier

    I am so sorry for your loss, I know exactly how you feel as over the years we have lost 4 cats and 8 canine family members. Some passed on their own but most ask that fatal question “Can you fix this?” We have fixed many things that were wrong, but there comes a time that you can’t fix whats wrong. Friends have asked the question “How do you know when its time?” I always reply that they will tell you with their eyes and attitude. It’s hard to lose them when they pass on their own, but its really hard to make that decision – when the quality of life just isn’t there anymore its time to let them go with dignity. A friend just had to put down her Golden Retriever of 14 yrs last week. Her question to me was when does the hurt go away. Had to be honest and say it never really does, you just learn to deal with it. Still miss the first one we ever had as much as the last one that passed away in November. Many prayers to you at your time of grief.

  6. Cyndi Harp

    I am so sorry for your loss. I had to put my beloved Boxer Rusty to sleep on Sunday. I was glad he didn’t die in the hospital without us to comfort him but if he had just gone to sleep that would have been alright too. I lost another Boxer just over a year ago. He had had sugery on Wednesday and they couldn’t get his heart rate to stay steady. He had an Adrenal tumor the had invaded his vena cava. He fought for three days and on Sunday it was affecting his other organs and he was not going to get better. So with my two girls, one of whom we had got him for her birthday, and two other friends were with him. I held him in my arms as he slipped on over the Rainbow Bridge. I had about two hours till my daughter got there and I told him over and over how much we loved him and how much I didn’t want to let him go but would. He was with us for allmost 13 years. He was the best companion and sweetest boy. He was always happy to see us no matter how long we had been gone, I look for him and he’s not there. I love you my sweet boy.

  7. Arliss

    Thank you for rerunning this heartfelt, beautiful piece. I’m so sorry for your loss of this dear friend. Sorry for this sad chapter, though time has hopefully softened the grief.
    The words “Can you fix this?” so simply and perfectly convey that deepest bond of love and absolute trust we can ever hope to experience in our lives. You put it perfectly.
    Run free, Aladdin.

  8. Barb

    Hugs and prayers, Oh how I know so well, the great pain, the loss and the sweet memories.

  9. Mary Ferris

    In that final soul interaction the two of you shared, you gave him permission to leave you and he left. My elder mare, Zorka, was having some issues a couple of years ago, I told her, “IF you feel it necessary, you can go on. I will miss your loving being but your soul will always be with me”. She knew it would be hard on me so she stayed quite a long time…until she was just too tired to go on. Like Aladdin, she left during the nite…laid down and went to sleep. “Z” and Aladdin are running the length and breadth of Heaven, delighting the angels with gracious rides upon their noble backs!
    When I feel or hear the wind, I know they’re thundering thru’ my life, my day; telling me they are nigh.

  10. Ellee Pride

    Thank you for Reposting this. I will share it with a friend who recently had to “fix” the last problem she could with her beloved first horse.

  11. Annie B

    I know that look of “please fix it”. I know too well the feeling of the final answer. Blessing to all our departed friends.

  12. KD Huff

    Thanks for making me smile and cry at work…… I pray I’ll have your courage when it’s time at my house.

  13. dawndi Post author

    In the end, it was determined that he had brain and central nervous system lymphoma. Evidently it didn’t hurt, except for his pride in not being able to function correctly. I was very glad to have an answer. Thank you so much for your comment!

  14. Beverly

    Perhaps Aladdin had a disorder like 2 of our horses had ( they were related and both older when this set in) It was a neurological disorder, it caused them to sometimes trip, sometimes try to walk in a straight line but drift to the side. Eventually we had to have both put down. It didn’t show up in blood tests, it was just something our vet had seen before and recognized it as what was happening. We miss them both!

  15. Beverly

    What a story…it brought me laughs, because I know what you mean about rescuing your horses from their “dumb” mistakes. It also brought me to tears, because I know the pain of having to decide when it’s “time” to let go of a beloved horse. I’ve only had one that slipped away on her own. Each horse leaves a special memory and has a special place in my heart, as I’m sure was your case with Aladdin. Thank you for sharing a wonderful story from the heart.

  16. Adria

    Thank you for reposting this; congratulations for having Horse and Rider ask to publish this. Aladdin certainly had the best of friends in you. I hope your heart has healed from his passing and that his memory brings you joy.

  17. dustybutt

    The Rainbow Bridge has crossed a wonderful horse over to green pastures and warm sunshine. Thank you for a beautiful story.

  18. Simrat

    Beautifully written and a wonderful tribute to a special horse. My condolences to you. It sounds like Aladdin had the very best of owners.

  19. Maggie

    I’m so sorry about Aladdin. Sounds like he was a truly great horse. It hurts so much to lose them.

  20. Donna

    What a heart wrenching yet heart felt story. RIP Aladdin. Memories of you will live long and strong.

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