Saturday, November 8th at 9AM, we said good bye to Mr. Merlin, a handsome 33 year old, completely blind Appaloosa. He was euthanized after a grueling 12 hour struggle to make him well.
Friday night around 9PM I headed out to the barn for bed check and found Merlin on his side, lying in the mud, in the rain. My husband and I got him up and into a dry area of the barn where we observed him for awhile. We were certain it was colic as all he wanted to do was lie down and roll. He was very uncomfortable. At 10:30PM, we called the vet. Dr. Foster arrived at 11:15PM. She sedated him, put down a stomach tube, performed a rectal, administered pain shots, all the usual colic treatments, but to no avail. His pulse rate was 100(normally 35-40) and he was highly agitated. It was decided we needed to get him to the hospital where they could get him on a fluid drip and run tests to determine the cause of his distress. At 3AM, we loaded him into the trailer, by no means an easy task, as he was heavily sedated and to make matters worse, it was pouring down rain. Upon our arrival to the hospital, the doctors ran a battery of tests and finally determined that Merlin was probably suffering from a distended colon. Apparently at some time earlier in the evening, he had rolled and upon righting himself, his colon, instead of re-situating itself along the bottom of his abdomen where it normally rests, became lodged in the upper right quadrant of his abdomen. The only way to reposition his colon was for Merlin to undergo major surgery but his age of 33 years and stressed state did not make him a good candidate for general anesthesia. The doctors, giving us some thread of hope, said sometimes the colon would reposition itself, so we put him into a heated ICU stall and prayed for a miracle. Two hours passed and he did not improve. The reality was he was not going to get better and so at 9AM, the decision was made to end his suffering. We sat next to him on the floor in his ICU stall while Dr. Foster administered the over dose of anesthesia and with our hands upon him, Merlin quietly slipped away. We told Merlin what we tell all of our animals that have passed on…”wherever you go, we promise to come and find you”.
Merlin’s body was delivered back to HartSong at 2:30 that afternoon and we buried him in our grave yard site on Old Horse Hill. Now we must think of Bridget. Bridget is a 29 year old, completely blind Appaloosa and was Merlin’s stall mate for 5 years. She was calm in his presence and hysterical when they were seperated. Merlin was her rock. A dear friend and spiritual advisor for HartSong, Bonnie Neeley, suggested before we buried Merlin, we needed to allow Bridget some time with him, so we led her out of her stall and over to his body. The moments she spent withhim were beyond magical. All she knew up until this point was that Merlin was taken away. Now she was able to comprehend that Merlin was dead and you could actually feel her sense it as she moved her nose and mouth all over his body. We stood with her there for about 5 minutes and when she was ready, she turned and walked back into her stall. Last night, was the first night in 5 years she was without Merlin. Oddly, she does not appear anxious, distressed or hysterical. Rather, she is just quiet. She needs to mourn. We all do.
Merlin was one of the three original blind horses to arrive at HartSong Animal Sanctuary. He was the reason for HartSong. Thank you, Mr. Merlin for showing us the way. You touched the hearts of many. We will miss you forever…