Saying goodbye to a beloved pet

One by one, like falling stars, they blaze too swiftly across our lives, then disappear except for their forever aura that never fades. We know we are just borrowing them, that they will not always be with us except for that glow, but what a joy to hold the glow for just a minute.

Apache, my 30-something beloved Appaloosa who came into my life nine years ago on March 11, is now one of those falling stars. He came to me to be the pasture pal of Taggie, whose buddy Pinkie had become a falling star, so now Taggie needed a pasture pal.

Gift

It just so happened that a young lady, an enthusiastic rider, was looking for a good home for her aging Appaloosa who was getting up in years. Apache did indeed find a good home and there was an extra gift, as the young lady, Wendy Chey, is daughter of Marilyn and Phillip Chey and Phil and I both graduated from Poland Seminary High School. We have all become good friends.

In the nine years Apache was here he became a different horse. At first he was suspicious and reserved, looking at the horrific scars down his white blaze, it was evident that he had been cruelly abused some time before Wendy got him. No wonder he was suspicious.

Fast friends

Apache and Taggie were comfortable with one another and there was never an incident.

Gradually Apache became less suspicious and reserved, almost affectionate, but still held himself aloof from everyone except me, whom he had come to trust.

When Taggie became a falling star at age 34, Apache was lonely in his own quiet way. That is when Toby, my mischievous Haflinger, joined the family and there has not been a dull moment since he arrived nine years ago last September.

Progress

Apache learned to put his head on my shoulder and not to run to the back of his stall when visitors came. And he learned from Toby how to kick his wall at feeding time. If Toby was out of sight he became nervous and nickered after him. But there was never any doubt about who was boss — Apache.

His teeth became so worn down there was hardly anything left to float and he could no longer eat hay, not even the most tender alfalfa. But over this wretched winter he stayed fat and sleek, eating tremendous amounts of Equine Senior. I was so proud that he had done so well and spoiled him with treats. He loved gingersnaps and animal crackers, carrots and apples and alfalfa cubes and peppermint candies.

Turn for the worse

But something went terribly wrong April 1 and an examination by his caring veterinarian, Doug Wiley of Lisbon Veterinary Clinic, showed the dreaded torsion — literally twisted bowel — and while he did not appear to be in severe pain, it would happen excruciatingly, and I would not let him suffer.

Apache was laid to rest near his old friend Taggie, but his aura remains bright.

Toby is still calling and both of us still mourn.

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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