Learning Lessons in Love

There are weeks we live when it’s like going under water. You go into survival mode – often not for you but for those you have to be strong for. These weeks come and go and you exhale and say ‘thank God, that’s it for another while’. I’m mindful of those who have difficult weeks that last a lifetime with no respite.
The last seven days thought me many lessons again. We truly are students of life. I was so proud of myself Sunday. I got all the dogs walked, cats sorted, horses fed and car ready for a road trip to Cork. I’m a bad time keeper (usually) so I was really chuffed I was going to be on time to pay a visit to Rose & Bear. Approaching Charleville, the oncoming traffic was heavy heading to the Munster Match. The sun hit the road leaving a sudden glare and amidst the hazy glow was a silhouette of a woman standing in the middle of busy traffic with a dog. After pulling over we quickly learned the dog had been hit and couldn’t walk and lifting her caused much stress. Ciara had decided to stand with her as she was more noticeable than a solitary dog on the road. Her fear was, she would be hit again. As we stood with her, cars maneuvered around us – some flying by and one lady bore the most ugliest of faces: scowling, impatient, intolerant as she peered down from her SUV. I went back to my car to get a blanket to roll the dog onto and after realizing her home was right beside us, we carried her home. Through the front door, down the hall and into a family kitchen. Four strangers and their dog. All the poor dog wanted to do was get to his upset owner. She couldn’t walk. So a call was made to a vet. Jessie was lifted into the owner’s van and the plan was we would follow him to the vets. Except my car was locked with the keys inside. Nobody ever told me a car can mind itself by locking itself. Lovely thought except when the keys are in there. One broken window later, we were back on the road again. It was one cold drive. But if you don’t inject humour into it, it will inject a lot of bad humour into the day. Main thing: Jessie was alive. And so for a few hours, everything is OK again, you have a lovely visit, and you head home. The second we pulled in, the words ‘ring me, it’s urgent!’ flashes up on your screen.
Fifteen minutes later, you’re in a halting site going from door to door. Looking for help. There is a foal down. You leave with the words: ‘she is not to be put down’. And so begins the emotional tug of war. Your innate reaction is to do anything to keep a baby girl alive versus wanting her to die. The day I met Ciara, I knew her time here would be short. She was ghostly angelic; she did not belong here. I asked my friend to put pressure on the department vet to visit her, her mum, and another pony. Another two ladies had also persisted with calls. And there was a visit. A notice to feed went up. No intervention for an emaciated mare in foal with her own foal by her side. Ciara ate tiny amounts. Some days I thought she was turning a corner and then the owners moved her to nothingness. They told me she was sold. I found out the truth as I stood in a bleak field on my knees, with my hands holding her beautiful face. The tug of war was won.
Then on Monday after getting all the hay out, a call comes in that there is a pony with an injured leg on another halting site. It’s dark, and a tiny wet Shetland is tied to a pallet with a cut to his back right leg. I had the vet out to him a few months ago. So many rescuers give me bits that make up a first aid box. So wound wash and Botanica seem to have sorted this wound. The kids here are great and it is them who take care of the horses here but kids don’t
have resources. We untied the pony and walked around trying to find any sheltered spot. And so it was back to a corner where another tiny pony called Little Leo once lived. I said to the kids, I was looking forward to my Christmas present from them. One of them asked, ‘what do you want, Catriona?’ I replied, ‘something girlie!’ He made me laugh when he looked puzzled and turned to the other boys, ‘what’s that?’ he asked.
I spent the last month worrying about an up-coming appointment. When you’re sitting in a waiting room with other ladies all thinking probably the same, ‘what if?’ It really reminds you how living fully everyday is so important. Something I should remind myself of more. Everyday is one little life that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. This time facing this was made a lot more easier with someone who has promised me whatever happens, the horses will be fed. Thank God, I was back feeding that night. I have spent the week trying to get owners to feed their horses. Some horses I don’t feed anymore. For reasons I won’t go into here. It really drives me crazy when people make throw away comments like ‘they don’t feed them because you are!’ Let me tell you, some don’t care if their horses are fed or not because there are plenty where they came from. When I first started this feeding, it was because of dead horses, and unanswered calls for help to other rescues, to the council and the department. Right now, I’m holding these horses onto life with this great hope that things one day will change before it’s too late for them!

The thanks!
Thanks to everybody buying hay! Thanks to BabyDoll Rescue for the help with food and a coat for the loveliest Grey that got neutered recently. Thanks to Deirdre for coats too. Thanks to Linda who helped me pay for a dog to be put to sleep that has been suffering for the last week. Grateful to the owner for letting her go and to Summerhill Vets for being so kind. Thank you to Gerry O’Connor, a vet I owe so much to. He never hesitates to come help me in areas that are not the easiest to go into. He never charged anything for coming out to Ciara. Finally, thanks to my soul mate who has promised me he will lift hay with me forever.x

And to you Ciara, I will take you with me into every field I go. You have thought me so much for a foal so young. There is a time to fight and there comes a time to let go. Rest now forever in peace x

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