The losing battle that saves some lives.



I never fully grasped the meaning of juxtaposition until the other day. And some of you will conclude that I still haven’t grasped it by the time you read this piece in its entirety.
A mare and her foal we feed were separated this week by a busy road. To see a mother taking her maternal position at a gate that would give her a clear view of her baby only serves to remind me that she is no different to any other mother not able to get to her baby! Five days later she is still at the same gate. Drinking more water than usual as she is full of anxiety. Feed is a small comfort for her. On the other side of the road, her 9 month old comes and goes from his gate – making sure his mommy is still minding him from a distance.
I stood in the field with him the other morning and he tried to get as close to me as possible to smell his mother who I had just crossed the road from. My friend had given me his feed in a bucket despite me telling her that we were told not to give him any hard feed as the preparation had begun for his life we don’t want to imagine for him. I still took it from her. Their new foal feeding regime would be on and off and then short lived! I’ve been here before, and you just don’t know what day or what week it will come.
I looked around to make sure I would not get caught as I placed the bucket down on the ground, and then as ‘rescue luck’ would have it, I heard a sharp whistle. Not looking around I knew, so I gave the bucket a quick kick and attempted to press the very small handful of nuts into the mud with my boots. The foal was having none of it: I was taking his treats. He tried to nudge my entrenched boots away, and when that didn’t work he tried to rugby tackle me off his treat spot with a heave. Saying to him ‘you will get me in trouble! STOP!’ Well, that didn’t quite work! I knew the owner had now jumped the wall so in an effort to disguise my badly thought out plan, I pretended to look for something in the grass with a handful of hayledge to disguise the scattering of nuts. It worked!
And back to juxtaposition. Just the day before my friend who knows about feeding and horses, said to me, if they weren’t getting what we were giving them, they would be dead. And just before I jumped the wall into the field, a passerby told me of the many horses that died before we started to feed in this area. ‘Good girl, good girl, keep it up, and keep them alive!’ And then moments later, the owner says: ‘you know Catriona, I would hate people to take advantage of you! You know feeding their horses…’
I looked him in the eye. ‘Really?’ I said, and asked at the same time.
‘You know feeding other people’s horses! Why would they feed them?’
And just like that – the images of all their horses either stuck in ditches or standing in mud came to mind. Horses that stopped waiting for feed to come long before I gave into their blatant neglect.
As I went to jump back over, I turned to him, and replied, ‘at least I’m doing the right thing!’
He had no answer to that!
In 3 minutes, one man saying ‘keep them alive’ to another saying I would be ‘taken advantage of’ and I should stop, was both ironic and infuriating when this owner’s horses are a source of constant concern!
Another juxtaposition: taking a blatantly neglected dog to the vet and handing her back to the home she came from. But sometimes one animal will have to pay the price to save the others. I am happy to say she is doing well, taking her meds, and the owners are looking after her – maybe not to the standard you want but to a standard that is better than before. So on her return, we were handed a puppy! The one that got away….a little life who will live the fairytale now!
Myself and my friend again have tried to get official help but again it never comes! Sometimes you just have to say, ‘I need to be the somebody to help these animals!’ I didn’t sleep that night: guilt stole it from me.
And so to loss… another rescue juxtaposition. Any one that loves animals and who is on Facebook is faced with back to back posts of loss of lives and saved lives. Lives saved by rescuers and lives destroyed by owners. Side by side everyday: life and death. Today I’m thinking of a special rescue friend who has lost-lost a horse that I rescued. I said to her, as I know she is consumed with grief, I am so happy that he passed in her arms knowing love and care than pass at twenty years tied to a fence or to a tree. She told him how much he was loved as he took his final breaths, and she stayed with him – the presence of another when we leave this world is denied to so many animals. Like the foal in Limerick who slowly strangled himself as his owner had tied him with a blue rope to a tree. He was dying for two days. My heart is broken for my little rescue but now it is about his minder. I kept my promise to him to get him away from an owner whose greed is insatiable, whose cruelty is stomach churning. My rescue friend kept her promise to me: to love and care for him. She did that and more, and one day I will repay her for her selflessness and loving kindness she shows rescues that she can’t share with the Facebook world.
This week I was let into a house I thought I would never be welcomed in. I talked about their animals and what they need; they equally talked and told me what they gave them. What was needed was provided with thanks to my friends who donated. Life is better now here for the little heartbeats in this yard. Before I left, I was asked did I have children? When I told them it’s probably a bit too late for that, a bottle was reached for, a cap was poured, and I was baptised with holy water. ‘That will help,’ she told me! I smiled as I wiped the water from my face…
I arrived with bowls, toys, and coats, and she gifted me with holy water! We laughed about needing more than water and she said ‘come here, that’s easy to find!’ I left with a smile….

(Happy Valentine’s Day! And remember if you find someone that loves you as much as your pet, you are more than blessed! But, sometimes our pets, our rescues… provide us with all the love we need. It’s unconditional.)

No proofing done! Thinking out loud x


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