Saying goodbye to Rooster
Some horses are people horses. They never do well in herds, don’t have any desire to stand side by side with another horse and had just as soon not share a bale of hay. They want their own space, they love people, love the attention and the snacks that only people can give. So it was with Rooster, a saddlebred dark chestnut.
Rooster came to Habitat for Horses in March of 2000, donated by an owner who had been transferred to another state. Rooster had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), commonly called “heaves”, which made breathing very difficult. During the extremely hot summer of 2000, we almost lost him several times. He required constant attention and medication, which we were more than willing to give.
In return, Rooster gave of himself. He was one of the most physically beautiful horses we’ve ever seen, with a personality to match. More than anything, Rooster loved people. He would not just stand still to be groomed. Like a little puppy he wanted to touch, to lick, to smell everyone that came into the barn. Snacks were a bonus. His thrill came from his contact with humans.
Yesterday, June 21st, we let Rooster out for a few hours. He swam in the pond, rolled in the sand, kicked up his heels a little, and passed away.
“Quality of Life” has always been a big issue here at Habitat for Horses. Rooster was an example used by many people who believe in the theory that euthanasia is necessary for any horse that can no longer be productive, meaning used by people. In return, I used Rooster as an example of a horse that enjoyed being alive. He didn’t need people on his back, he didn’t need to be haltered and saddled to make his life worth our effort. His life was important to us for a far different reason.
We don’t take horses in because we can use them. We take horses in because they need a home, because they are God’s children, just as we are, and because we have a deep respect for the one single gift we all share – life.
We were able to give Rooster another year of life. It wasn’t always pleasant. Hot summer days and cold winter nights, massive amounts of rain that made being in the pasture an ordeal, those are things we all suffered through. But we shared a lot of wonderful days, too – perfect mornings, loving people, beautiful sunsets – days when life seemed glorious and never-ending.
Rooster in gone from our pasture and our stall. Somewhere in heaven he’s being held, being groomed, being loved like he never was before. He’s being offered an apple, his favorite snack, only this time the apple is being offered by the hand of God.
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