Today we lost our dear elderly goat Flora. Flora was 13 years old. She came to the farm at only a few months old with her mother Sage, her sister Fauna, and another young buck named Chip. Their lives didn’t start off well at all and they suffered a lot of trauma before landing here at Spring Farm CARES. Flora was not too sure of people for a long time. But, one by one, she lost her family until she was the sole survivor of their group. We could tell how much Flora really missed them. We paired her up with a sheep named Mary and the two of them became great friends. Mary was by her side when she passed. Flora blossomed in the last couple of years. In 2019 we thought we were going to lose her as she became ill and very frail. But she got a second wind and suddenly began interacting with her human friends more. She regained her health in an amazing way and enjoyed the last couple of years welcoming two new boy goats to her family and thriving with Mary sheep as well. We recently became aware of a medical problem that couldn’t be fixed for Flora and we knew she’d be leaving us soon. Although we are sad to say good-bye, we know that there was a group of her goat family ready to welcome her home. And the thought of that reunion makes us smile for Flora. She grew a lot in this lifetime and we are honored to have provided her with the space to live a life that was safe and secure and where she could find the growth that she needed for herself. Say hello to everyone for us Flora!
It is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of our dear sweet Laney. For those of you who have been following her story, you know that she had been through a lot. Although she only graced this world for 14 weeks, she left a mark on a lot of hearts and on our organization as a whole. Laney represented everything about the SFC mission. Saying good-bye was so incredibly difficult. Her light shined bright and filled our world with her grace. The truth is that no amount of time would have felt like enough. But we also know that we gave her the very best that could be offered while she was here.
Laney was born without a rectum, a condition called Atresia Ani Type 3. She came to us when she was 7 weeks old and she weighed less than a pound. She was extremely tiny. The only hope she had for survival was a surgery where they would create a connection from colon to anus. But Laney also had other complications. We do not know if it was part of a birth defect or the result of an injury but when she came to us, she could not use her back legs properly. But it was clear from day one that Laney was full of life and not ready to leave this world quite yet. So, we set out to try and help her.
Surgery was done at Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Daniel Lopez. It was an extremely difficult surgery with an uncertain outcome. The only certainty was that an entire team of humans all gathered and focused their hearts and their skills on one little one pound kitten with a huge spirit. Surgery was a success. She not only survived, but she came home the day after and began to eat solid food for the first time in her life. She was not out of the woods by any means. Each day she crossed another hurdle. Two weeks into recovery, she even started to use her back legs and we saw great hope that she would also be able to walk again. We sat and watched her one evening, walk normally for several minutes. She played, chased toys, and she loved her meals served to her every few hours even through the middle of the night. More than anything, she fully understood how much she was loved.
Laney got to experience life in those few weeks in all of its blessings and exuberance. She was a calico and she had the calico spunk and attitude. Meaning when things didn’t go exactly her way, she was not shy to express herself. In turn, she brought all of us great joy as we watched her heal and blossom. Her little body could barely contain the light within her. She would look us in the eyes intently and hold our gaze. It felt magical somehow.
In the past couple of days, suddenly things changed. While she had started to pass stool and things seemed to be progressing nicely, the reality was that she wasn’t passing enough. Sadly, more testing showed that her colon did not have the motility needed to move stool on through. Medication therapy was not successful. Her tiny little body wasn’t growing because she could not assimilate nutrients as she should have. We were losing her, and it became clear that there was nothing more we could do to fix this problem.
It is always our mission to listen to each animal for what they need and to understand when they’ve had enough. We had reached that sometimes fine but clear line of when we were doing something for her and when we’d be doing something to her just because we could. These are always very tough discussions here. But we listen to the animal and let them guide us. Laney was filled with love. She was overflowing with joy. She had also done all that she could in that body. No one ever wants to think it’s over when life barely began for her. But her journey in this body was finished. We put our heartbreak aside and we held her with love and gratitude in our hearts for all that she had brought to all of us. The team of people that rallied around her and loved her is huge. One big circle of cheerleaders who wanted nothing more than to see her grow up and even to face her opinionated side as we went along. But that was not her journey. The outcome didn’t look like we wanted it to look. But in the end, Laney’s courageous journey was a complete success. She found amazing love in this life. Short, but chocked full of total love focused completely on her day and night.
Yes, our hearts are breaking. But we can look at her photo and see those eyes and our hearts still fill with the mighty bright light that filled her every cell. We do not regret one decision we made with her on this journey. We do wish it could have been longer. And we all hope our paths will cross again.
There are so many people who we thank for all they gave and did for Laney. From the entire medical team at Cornell University, to every one of her caretakers here at SFC. And with special mention to our Co-Founder, Bonnie who got up with Laney through the night every single night since Laney arrived to be sure that she was fed and cleaned and loved around the clock, and to our own staff veterinarian and Director of Animal Welfare, Dr. Christine who put her entire heart and soul into Laney’s care.
We hold you in our hearts forever Laney. And we are grateful for all you brought to us.
This memorial is difficult to write because there is so much to say. Today, we said good-bye to the last of our SFC dogs, Mack. Mack was a giant of a spirit. He was estimated to be at least 15 years old and he was with us for the past 12 years. Border Collies are dogs with special missions in life and Mack was no exception. So, if this memorial gets long, it is because his story is worthy of telling, and his life and the hearts he touched are immeasurable.
Mack was a complex dog. There was nothing easy or simple about him or his care. Yet, it is nearly a miracle that he lived and thrived with us for the past 12 years, given the complexity of his medical/health issues. And to be able to say that Mack literally died as a result of aging is an awesome accomplishment, on his part and on ours.
Mack did not live the normal life of a border collie. He was brought to our good friends at Glen Highland Farm Border Collie Rescue after he had been found running lost in the Adirondacks. Locals there said he had been seen for at least 6 months, but no one could catch him. Yet, the day he saw a car pull over near to where he was running, Mack understood intuitively that his ride was here to get him. A volunteer for the rescue was driving by and saw him and thought he looked lost. And after 6 months of running away from everyone, he decided to run to them. But Mack had great injuries from his life in the wilderness. Most likely hit by a car at one point, he had been rendered unable to use his back legs by the looks of the scars on his feet where he had been dragging them behind him for some time. But the fact was that he had a spinal fracture just at the base of his tail, and although he had use of his legs when found, he was totally bowel and bladder incontinent.
Mack was not a prospect for adoption. So, he came to live here at Spring Farm CARES. Thus embarked a 12 year career in teaching and touching hearts. Mack was strong willed. He was a true border collie in every way. He ran the show. In fact, to this day, our entire farm operation was based on Mack’s schedule. When the tractors could be driven, or the goats turned out, or when and where people were free to walk around where it wouldn’t interfere with Mack’s schedule. The whole farm ran on Mack time. Today, it is hitting all of us, just how much that was true.
Mack alerted us to every visitor. Some saw him as an annoying barking dog. Those people never saw Mack for who he was. And then, there were those, who truly understood this magnificent being with all of his interesting games in life. Mack’s mind never stopped. Because of his incontinence, he lived in a kennel that was set up in the main hall where he could have privacy yet be a part of everything. Because he insisted on being a part of it all. And he was. He had a beautiful dog yard where he could run free and play ball and frisbee and do all of the normal active things a young athletic border collie liked to do. From his yard, he could herd the tractor as it went by. He liked to herd the ducks out on walks. He was the man in charge.
And then, there were the people. HIS people. While many humans found Mack to be extremely difficult – and make no mistake he could be – there was a method to Mack’s entire being that took us a while to understand. But we finally did and we learned to move with Mack’s direction. In other words, he herded all of us too. You see, Mack picked his caretakers himself. There have been many animal caretakers here in the past 12 years. But only a select few became “Mack Walkers.” These were the people who Mack himself chose. It didn’t matter how much dog experience or lack of dog experience you had. We quickly learned that unless he was the one who chose them, he would not let anyone handle him or walk him. The Mack Walkers are like an exclusive club. And while they were all helping care for Mack, he was the one who actually was looking over them. Because Mack chose people not based on their work experience but based upon what he thought he could give to each of them. And while they took care of him, he was taking care of them.
There is no way we could list all of the Mack Walkers over the past 12 years and not be afraid we’d miss someone’s name. But many of you still follow us on the website and social media and are reading this now – you know who you are. On behalf of Mack, we thank each of you for all you gave to him. And we hope you treasure the gifts he left with each of you.
The silence in our big hall is deafening this morning. No border collie barking to let us know he’s there. He wasn’t there for his morning walk around with Bonnie as she did the early morning chores as they did together for 12 years. He wasn’t there to greet the staff as they arrived. But there is not a single one of us who couldn’t still feel him today in our hearts. His reach was massive. His mission was huge. His life was so well lived. Many looked at Mack and felt sorry for him that he lived in a kennel. But, none of us ever referred to that pen as a kennel. It was always called “Mack’s House.” And that is what it was. It was his safe place. His home. And his base of operations for all the work that he did. His happiness and contentment were palpable.
We knew he was failing these past few weeks. At 15, it was getting harder for him to get up and harder for him to walk. We all knew the time was coming to set him free. And all of us agonized over that pending day. This dog was so well loved. Deeply. Completely. Whole heartedly. And it was that love that helped guide us to listen to him one last time. Because it was clear that morning that Mack was tired. He was spent. He had eeked every ounce out of that body that he could have. But now, he needed to stand down and take a well-deserved rest. Mission accomplished. Job amazingly well done. What an amazing run. What an amazing spirit.
None of us wanted to say good-bye, but we all knew it was time. The light suddenly dimmed in his eyes. And it was our turn now to help him.
That’ll do Mack. That’ll do.
And with that, Mack ran free. Our hearts are breaking yet they are also filled with love and great memories. One border collie on a mission helped us to find our mission again too. And for that, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
We would like to give thanks to the three current Mack Walkers who we know have very heavy hearts right now. Thank you, Stephanie, Jordan, and Kellie. And to all of the current animal caretakers who were also touched by Mack and who loved him equally as much.
And from the Directors, Bonnie, Dawn, Margot, and Peggy….. thank you Mack. Thank you for all of it. And you know what we mean.
Today we feel the shock of an enormous and unexpected loss, leaving us with the reminder of how fragile life can be, how precious each moment is, and why we are here. James Bond, lovingly known as JB, came to us in June of this year. We didn’t have him with us for long, but he instantly became a piece of all of our hearts and the soul of this farm. JB was a gentle giant. A 24-year-old Saddlebred gelding who was dearly loved his whole life and who simply came to retire with us and spend the rest of his days here. He did just that but we expected him to be with us for at least 10 years. JB lived with one person for 22 years and he was very grateful for his time with her. We only got to share the last 3 months of his life but we are all the richer for knowing him.
JB had a heart of gold. He was incredibly sweet and gentle and loving. He was kind to humans as well as fellow horses. He had just bonded with his new herd with Kernel and Cammie and was in the process of welcoming a new addition who just arrived in the past two days. He was dignified and graceful. He was careful and thoughtful of where his body was at all times. He fit in here instantly. There isn’t a person here who wasn’t smitten by his loving nature and gentle soul. He leaves behind what feels like a big hole right now, but in reality, he gave us all an incredible gift. For as much as it hurts to say good-bye, we are all the richer for having the opportunity to love him.
Today, JB spent a beautiful day out in his pasture with his two buddies. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. Sunny and cool and few flies to contend with. He grazed contentedly and thoroughly enjoyed his day. When we went to bring him in, he suddenly just laid down. But he got up again and was led back to his stall. But when he got in, he collapsed. Our veterinarian was only 10 minutes away. But it appears a valve in his heart may have ruptured or some other coronary event happened. He left us just a few short minutes later, leaving us all stunned.
Tonight, the horses in the barn are very somber. They hold his memory in their hearts. A huge part of their herd has departed. All of them held sacred space for him.
Life can seem so chaotic and challenging. Please take a moment, in honor of a heart who loved beyond the greatest capacity, to be thankful for the loved ones in your life. Let’s not forget what matters most to each of us. Let’s not forget to be kind when we can show kindness, to show love when we can, and to hold a space in this world for change and hope. That is what JB did. And now we must continue on as he would have hoped we would.
Today marks the end of an era at Spring Farm CARES. Today, we said good-bye to Ember who is the last remaining horse of our original herd. Ember was born here on the farm before we were actually an animal sanctuary. As a Thoroughbred, she was bred to be a race horse. But as fate had it, Ember and four other foals, pointed us in a different direction. Ember was not destined to be a race horse. But she ended up instead, living a life that most horses never get to have. Ember was not really a people horse. While she was friendly and kind and such, she was just not into working with people.
Ember was all about her horse herd. She was a horse’s horse. She was devoted to each and every one of her horse friends. It has been particularly sad to watch over the past 29 years as one by one she slowly lost every single one of them. While we have always had a barn full of horses, Ember really never truly bonded with anyone else outside of her herd.
While today is marked with sadness for the Founders who have watched the entire generation of founding horses leave, it is also filled with joy for Ember who got to be reunited with her herd once again. She lived a good life. She never left this farm until a few months ago when she got on a trailer for the first time in her life to go to a veterinary clinic where she had to have an eye removed due to a melanoma. It turned out the melanomas had spread all inside her head. Life became unbearable with headaches and blindness and Ember could no longer find comfort in her world. So, today, we set her free.
Spring Farm CARES has been guided, loved, and moved deeper into our mission by each and every one of the animals who have resided on this farm over the years. There have been about 120 horses who have lived and died here in the past almost 30 years. They have left their mark on all of our hearts.
Bonnie and Dawn watched Ember be born into this world, and today we stood with her as she left – the circle complete. Life is a precious thing and it goes by in such a blink of an eye. We hold these animals in our lives and say they belong to us. But, in reality, we are only borrowing them for a short time. They grace us with their gifts. They teach us and walk together with us on our journey. And then the time comes at the end of the day when we can no longer keep them in our possession. They must go back to their bigger journey, onward into Spirit from whence they came to be with us. They remain in our hearts for always. And we are all the richer for having shared this brief time with them.
Ember got to go home today to her herd. We know how excited she was to leave a body that no longer was comfortable to live in. She was met by the herd who came running to get her as they always did when she left the barn. There was bucking and kicking and running and racing. And we’re sure now that we are being watched over by a most amazing ghost brigade of animals.
As the best tribute I could think of to Ember, I wanted to include what was indeed the most important part of her life. Below are the photos of the herd she called her own. May they all rejoice together now and enjoy the freedom they always have shared. Fly free dear Ember. Welcome back home.
Today our hearts are heavy as we said good-bye to our beloved horse friend Henry. Henry was estimated to be about 28-30 years old and he came to the farm in 2017 from a horse rescue who realized that Henry needed a sanctuary to retire and spend the rest of his days. We are honored to have been the place for Henry to take a much needed rest from a life we suspect was fairly difficult for him.
Henry was a horse who was very understated by his own doing. He preferred to blend into the background. But Henry was the epitome of a horse. He was deep and grounded and had a heart the size of a mountain. Spending time with Henry, even for a short time, you could get the sense that there was something much deeper in there than he let on to. He was a horse who survived on common sense. He was solid. But he was like a gentle whisper in the background. You wanted to hear all he had to say, but you had to listen through all the other sounds around him to hear him and learn about who he was. You could best learn about Henry by how he made you feel inside when you were around him. Somehow, he brought comfort and peace and a sense that things are ok even when you are not so sure why they would be ok.
Henry was loving and gentle, yet there was a part of himself he guarded deeply and kept in reserve. If you stood with him quietly, you could feel that otherwise hidden part of him and he would fill you with the gratitude he carried for having helped him. Henry had endured great pain in his life. His physical body bore the scars as evidence, yet his heart still remained open to kindness. He had a little flame inside of him that gently flickered from deep within and periodically you could see that light shine out of his eyes with joy and appreciation when he let that protective guard down.
Henry was a soul who came here to find freedom from something he carried inside that burdened him. We watched him slowly and very carefully unfold like a delicate flower opening after a hard winter and growing stronger and stronger with the warmth of spring. He got to unwind, relax, take a breath, and set his heavy load down. It was as if he grew deeper roots from his feet as he healed and gained trust in who he really was.
Henry had many medical issues since he came to us. None of them were ever truly definitive and yet we knew that as a package they were symptoms of something much deeper going on in his body. In the past couple of weeks, diagnostic imaging showed us signs of major trauma earlier in his life. We have no clue about Henry’s history, but we do know that he carried a lot and never let on to the depth of what he went through. Henry just picked up and moved on.
Today, Henry’s body gave out in a way that we could no longer help him to stay. It was time to say good-bye. He understood. We understood. In his final minutes, we could see him take stock of where he was and how far he had come. He could let go now. A job well done. A life well lived. And loved. Armed with all of that, Henry did what Henry knew best how to do. He went deep into his heart, took a breath, and moved on.
Henry was the seeing-eye companion for our pony Molly. He is now the fourth friend that she has lost and our hearts go out to her. Henry was a perfect friend. He was solid and steadfast but he also could hold his ground with a pony mare who sometimes likes things just so in her own way.
We would like to thank Dr. Rachel Fraser for the outstanding medical care over the past three years and for keeping up with all that Henry presented to us in very strange ways. He made sure Dr. Rachel never got bored. And we also thank Dr. Christine Schneider who helped Henry with acupuncture and laser therapy treatments and enjoyed Henry’s unique character. Thank you, Dr. Christine, for making his final days more comfortable.
Fly free dear Henry. It’s your time now to be free.
Today we had to say good-bye to our wonderful goat Lindy. Lindy had been with us since 2008 when she came with several other goats who were being sent to slaughter as they were being “liquidated” from a petting zoo. All of them lived out their lives here with us. Lindy was the last survivor of that group. Over the past few months, Lindy had been diagnosed with a mass in her bladder. She immediately received hospice care as we knew the placement of the mass unfortunately made it inoperable. Drugs helped reduce the obstruction temporarily and pain meds kept her comfortable. But the mass eventually grew to the point where Lindy could no longer urinate and we knew we had to let her go. Her last day here was spent enjoying all of her favorite treats from peppermints to Twinkies. She was pampered and doted on by her caretakers. Our hearts go out to Lindy’s goat companion Flora who misses her very much.
We think it appropriate to let Lindy speak for herself in her memorial. Just days ago, Lindy was featured in our Animal Message of the Day, a tradition we do from Thanksgiving thru New Years Day. We ask the animals what they are grateful for in their lives. Lindy’s quote says it all.
From Lindy: “One of the things I have learned most in my life is to never take life for granted. My life was deemed over before I came here. Not by me, but by others. I am here because humans allow me to be alive. But in my home here, I am not only alive but I am loved for who I am. My fondest wish came true and here I am. This year, I nearly died again. But this time, it was because something went wrong in my body. However, I wasn’t ready to go yet and my human friends saw that and they stepped in and helped. And once again, here I am. I am grateful to have the space to be me because being me was what I came here to do.”
Mission accomplished Lindy. You were the most spectacular you that you could be. We miss you and hold you in our hearts always.
On December 10th, we said an unexpected good-bye to a horse who was born on this farm 28 years ago. Meloudee only knew one farm as his home for his entire life. Our loss is huge. His story needs to be told because Meloudee stood for all this farm is about. In fact, he is one of the founding horses who helped shape the mission and birth of Spring Farm CARES. There is only one more of those original horses left.
Meloudee was a magnificent Arab gelding. He was stubborn. He was strong. And he thought he was invincible. But Meloudee’s story is not about his royal Arab blood lines. Nor is it about show ribbons or trophies or titles. Meloudee’s story is about character and humility and growth – both of his own and for what he taught all of us around him.
Meloudee was misunderstood and mislabeled for most of his life. He was mostly seen as difficult and obstinate, or even called “crazy”. Granted, he could be all of those things, but he landed there because he wasn’t really being heard or understood. For most of his life he was content to be in the background and just hang out with his brother TLC. The two of them were extremely bonded. They spent their entire lives together until TLC died very unexpectedly earlier this year.
But in the past two years, something amazing changed for Meloudee and his life took a different turn. Cushing’s Disease led to chronic foot problems which required special trimming and shoeing and nursing care. His human caretaking team stepped in and began working with him differently. They began working with him and not against him. They began teaching him new ways instead of forcing things on him. He developed a new kind of trust. He started to understand things in a different way and Meloudee blossomed before our eyes. It took a lot of work and consistency and people working together as a team. He taught us so much and he learned a lot himself. For the past year, Meloudee could be handled and led and medicated and treated by his entire human care team. They developed a relationship that was quite deep. Meloudee was doing very well.
So the shock came at the end of the day, while he was standing in his stall calmly eating one second and then on the ground in pain the next. Meloudee was very stoic. So to see him in this extreme pain, we knew something terrible had happened. We knew he had reached the end and we had to say good-bye. Nothing prepares us for that moment. No matter how many times we go through this, it is always hard.
We are comforted by the fact that Meloudee’s life was so well lived. He grew in ways that was profound for his soul. The little Arab gelding who often stayed in the background taught us all more than we can even express. His story is also about the humans who made this all possible. The people who cared for him day and night and who enriched his life beyond measure. We thank Robin for heading up the team and for her patience and compassion in working with him in the way that opened doors and changed his life dramatically. And we thank his caretakers, Taylor, Cate, and Rachel. And his professional care team, his veterinarian Dr. Rachel and his farrier Loren.
Tonight, we were shocked by the loss of one of our younger residents. Frankie was born in 2009 and came to the farm in 2016. He was already blind when he arrived here and came to our sanctuary to live out his days. Although his time with us was much shorter than expected, we know that Frankie felt safe with us and was loved and adored by all of us.
Frankie was a pony with lots of personality and spunk. It is indeed what gave him great strength. This afternoon he suddenly had a colic episode. At first, we thought it was something mild, but as the hours went on, he did not respond to treatment. With our veterinarians we tried for several hours to pull him through, but it was not to be. The only help left to give him was to release him from the body that could no longer heal.
For those of you who may not know, Spring Farm CARES is co-founded by professional animal communicator Dawn Hayman. We think it is fitting to let Frankie’s message to Dawn speak for itself. Because in the end, Frankie let us know that although we feel his life was cut short, he feels differently about that.
“I don’t want you all feeling sad for me now. It was time for me to go. When I lost my eyesight, my world drastically changed and became very challenging. Although you made my world safe for me, it became a world with too many limitations and my desire for running free became stronger than my will to stay. I was grateful for all that you did. But when my darkness began to dim my inner light, I knew I had done enough in this lifetime. Do not be sad for me. I lived to the fullest in this little pony body. But life became more questions than answers and I needed to find the answers somewhere else. Thank you for understanding and letting me go on. To be able to find the joy of running free again was delightful. I’m not afraid of moving forward anymore. Your love gave me strength and hope and I now carry that with me always. I’ve now graduated on to something so much bigger. You gave me the best of all you could and I’ve taken every ounce of that with me. I am grateful to call your hearts my home. And with that, I shall gallop off, no longer a prisoner to darkness, and running fully into the light.”
Happy journey Frankie. Thank you for all you taught us and for touching all of our hearts.
Today we unexpectedly said good-bye to Chance. Animals come to our sanctuary from various situations and for various reasons, some come to stay for many years and some for just a short time. Chance had only been here since November 2018. He came here to live out his days as he was not doing well in the herd where he had been living. He arrived here thin and very difficult to put weight on. But over the past several months, Chance thrived here. He became the picture of health. So, today, we didn’t expect that we’d be having to make the decision to help him out of a body that suddenly failed. While it was a shock to us, it actually was in keeping with how Chance wanted things to go. He didn’t want a big fuss made over him and he wouldn’t have been a fan of lots of nursing care.
Chance was his own man. He did things his way and had things the way he wanted them. We kept trying to buddy him up with several of our other horses but he wanted no part in that. He just really didn’t care for other horses. He liked being in a barn full of horses and clearly got comfort from that. But any kind of one on one activities with another horse was clearly not his thing. When we’d turn him out in our arena to walk around, he would cause trouble with each and every horse he could over their stall doors. He took a certain delight in doing that. There was this quiet side to Chance but he liked to stir up a little trouble when he could. Otherwise, he was a very nice horse and was good with people.
Chance suddenly had a colic this morning that at first seemed rather benign. We called our veterinarian anyway because Chance also had a cardiac issue and we wanted to be sure he was ok. But Chance actually was hiding from us the severity of what was happening inside of his body. He had a twisted gut and we couldn’t do anything to help him other than to help him out of his body. Moments before we said good-bye, Chance took one more walk around the arena to cause a little trouble with all of the horses just one last time.
We are blessed to have had the opportunity to know and love this one of a kind horse, even though it was for a short time. Chance needed a safe place to live out his final days and he found just that in our sanctuary. He made sure life was just the way he liked it and we are honored to have given him that final opportunity in his last months.
I’m sure as he passed into Spirit that things lined up for him just the way he wanted them to be. He left his body as quietly and unassumingly as he did when he walked in our door. While sad to see him go, we were honored to have given him a place to call his own.
Today is a milestone in the history of Spring Farm CARES. Today we said good-bye to Viva, the horse responsible for starting this all. Viva was born March 20, 1985 after co-founder Bonnie bought her very first horse, Kazinka, only to find out later that she was pregnant. Viva arrived 3 weeks late as Bonnie slept beside Kazinka in the barn in sub-zero weather awaiting his arrival. His birth changed the course of Bonnie’s life and planted the seed that became Spring Farm CARES. Viva and Dawn arrived at the farm exactly at the same time. Destiny brought all of the ingredients together, and 34 years later it is amazing to see where we are and who we’ve become. And one stubborn, obstinate magnificent horse set the course and loved this farm as much as anyone ever could.
Viva lived his whole life here on this farm. He was loved since the day he was born. And he lived a life that very few horses get to live. By all accounts, Viva should have died two years ago when we discovered that he had a huge mass in his abdomen. He later had other medical complications on top of that. But, he made it clear it was not his time to go. He pulled through enormous odds and kept on trucking. Each winter, we thought it would be his last. But he lived for spring and the hope of green grass. In the end, it was his legs that gave out. He squeezed every ounce of usefulness out of the body he was born into.
It was clear that Viva never actually really wanted to go. He loved his life and this farm with all his heart and soul. From the hilltop on which he resided for the past 34 years, he could look over the entire farm. He watched enormous changes and growth over the years. He was proud of what we have become. He felt he was a part of it all and indeed he was.
Viva lived with three mares for over 20 years. Two of them, Story and Harriett, both passed in the last few years. That left Viva and Belle as the last of the hilltop herd. Sadly, Belle now finds herself the sole survivor. Our hearts ache for Belle today as she said good-bye to her last companion, the pesky gelding who the mares constantly had to keep in line, but who was her friend and companion nonetheless.
Just after Viva was euthanized, Belle came close to pay her last respects. As she fully understood that he was gone, she suddenly spun around and looked up the hill to the pasture on the hilltop. Ears perked, nostrils flaring, and watching with wonder at something we couldn’t see. It was then that we realized, the ghost herd had come to pick him up. She knew they were there. She could feel them. Belle herself is not in good health. We will find a new buddy to join her on the hillside. We know it won’t be the same. And we also know that Viva and friends will be watching over her, and the entire farm that he helped create.
He told Dawn before he left, “Look, it’s gonna have to be up to you now to carry this forward. Don’t drop the ball now. My energy will still be here forever with you. But don’t mess this up.” No pressure there. The dream will continue. The mission will move on. And the stubborn gelding that always from day one did things in his own way on his own time, will always be a part of the very heart of this mission.
Today, most unexpectedly, we lost one of our beloved horse friends. TLC was born here on the farm in 1991, before Spring Farm CARES was officially founded. We consider him one of our founding horses. It is always hard to say good-bye, but to have him with us for all of his 28 years was an honor. He watched SFC be birthed and he knew he was a part of that process.
TLC or “T” as he was most often called was not an easy horse. But he was a horse who taught us much and who was a favorite among many of his caretakers over the years. TLC spent his whole life with another gelding named Meloudee. They were born just a couple of weeks apart and spent their time playing as foals together and were stall neighbors and pasture mates their entire life. Meloudee has had many health problems and TLC always stuck by his side. Any time that TLC had any issues or concerns, Meloudee stood watch over him. They were half-brothers by breeding and best friends without question. The two of them lived in their own little world together. In the pasture they would go off together from the rest of the herd and do their own thing. They stayed out of trouble that way. But they also didn’t really connect with people all that much. They weren’t mean or nasty. But they had no particular interest in buddying up with people either.
In the past couple of years, both of them started allowing themselves to work more with their caretakers. And both of them became more connected and participated more with grooming and handling. As a result, they developed stronger and more meaningful relationships with their human friends. It was great to watch them grow and expand their worlds.
Our hearts go out to Meloudee today who lost his best friend and herd mate. We understand that no one can replace the love he had for TLC. As TLC took suddenly ill this morning, Meloudee stood in his stall with his head hanging over to his friend trying to let him know he was there. TLC had a twisted intestine and nothing more could be done for him. He was not a surgical candidate for many reasons.
TLC was not one for mushiness. He was generally more reserved and matter of fact. But he was also very grateful for his life here at SFC and for the love he received from his caretakers. And mostly, he would like to thank his friend Meloudee for all the years of friendship and companionship. He will run ahead now, but he will wait for his friend to one day join him and once again they will run off through the fields and do their own thing – together.
Rest easy T and thank you for all you taught us and shared with us over the years. You will forever be a part of the miracle of Spring Farm CARES.
We lost our beloved dog Jake on November 1st. We write memorials for our animals to share with you, not the sadness of our loss, but the celebration of their lives.
Today ended a nearly 14-year journey with a dog who was found at 8 months old sitting on our manure pile and who came into our lives and made a tremendous impact on so many people. Jake was a lab/chow mix with the most fantastic heart. I’m not going to go into all the reasons Jake ended up spending is life here with us. Many people would have labeled him a “problem” dog. But to us, Jake was just a dog who had a problem. And it wasn’t really a “problem” to Jake. For good reason, Jake did not like men in uniforms of any kind and he would grab and bite them whenever he could. For that reason, he could not be adopted out. But for us, it just meant being vigilant to keep him away from men in uniforms. Because with everyone else, Jake was a most kind-hearted and loving soul.
To be loved by Jake was a gift. And there are many people out there in the world who received that gift. Jake was special to all of his caretakers, and, they were special to him. He loved unconditionally. He expressed his love freely. And he had that special knack of knowing when someone needed a little more of his love and support than the normal day’s worth. For those of us who were loved by Jake, our hearts are filled today with that love and the many memories we shared over the years, but our bodies are missing the ability to reach out and touch him.
In recent months, Jake’s health started to decline. We watched him start to fade and we all knew this day was drawing near. But Jake just kept on loving. He appreciated every effort by his caretakers to make his life more comfortable. Our hearts ached to watch him slow and have trouble walking. But the light in his eyes never dimmed. The love in his heart only grew stronger. And Jake walked all of us through the process of saying good-bye.
You see, that was Jake’s message in life. It was his lesson that he taught often. He taught us that one should never close their heart to loving someone even if it means it would hurt to say good-bye. He believed that love came for a reason and when it blessed your life, it was a gift that was to be opened and not stored away or pushed aside for fear that it would one day be gone. Because Jake understood that love indeed never is wrong. And that love never dies. He understood that when two hearts connect there is a powerful force that is formed, grows, and lives eternally. Jake spent 13 years teaching us that we really never needed to say good-bye at all. And he left us knowing that it was far better to have loved and lost him then to never have loved him at all. Thank you, Jake. You touched more hearts than you will ever know. And we shall miss you.