I apologize for not sending out an update during the past few days, but it’s been tough. Letting Cookie go was more than difficult and accepting that she is gone is just as hard.
Some history – Cookie returned to us from an adoption a few years ago with a sore on her left ear that wouldn’t heal. We feared it was cancer but a biopsy identified it as Leishmania (there are only three documented equine cases in the US – Cookie is #3). There were also sores on her face that were cancerous which were treated but, over time, a few more sores popped up. About four years ago, Dr. Porter referred Cookie to UF where she underwent surgery by Dr. Mangan and his team to remove/treat the cancer. Both third eyelids and her lower left eyelid were removed. Reconstructive surgery enabled Cookie to keep her left eye – Dr. Mangan did a great job!
Cookie was doing great, but early this year, her immune system took a hit for no obvious reason – the first thing that popped into my mind was cancer. Then, her left eye had an issue. Over the course of several weeks of treatments, biopsies were done by different vets that were sent to different labs, and they all came back negative for cancer. But the eye refused to heal so we opted to have Dr. Mangan remove it. Cookie would do just fine with one eye. We opted to send the eye for biopsy and I truly wasn’t shocked when the results came back positive for cancer. It had likely been there all along.
Cookie after her left eye was removed – you could often find her and Ruby sticking their heads out of their stall windows.
Several days after her eye was removed, Cookie went out to the front of the barn to lay down and scratch her tummy and take a much needed nap (she would never lay down in her stall). When she woke up, she was out of sorts and hopped up quickly – her back right leg locked up under her. She panicked and ran up the hill on three legs to where I was standing. I massaged it and she calmed down but I was very concerned about the trauma it may have caused. Running uphill on two front legs and one back leg couldn’t have been easy. The next day, Cookie was lame and body sore. I prayed it was something that would quickly heal vs trauma that could cause her to founder. We started icing her feet just in case.
Dr. Julia Simonson (holistic vet) treated Cookie with massage and acupuncture. We continued to use red light therapy on her and I called Dr. Specht out to do x-rays which indicated that her front feet were ok. However, we continued to treat her as though she were a founder case anyway – sometimes the breakdown isn’t seen for days.
There was no improvement a few days later, so Dr. Porter repeated the x-rays and found rotation (about 4 degrees) in both front feet. Then came the abscesses. We regrouped and opted for Dr. Porter to return with Adam Whitehead (farrier) to do maggot debridement therapy which would help the healing process. We would also continue holistic treatments and red light therapy. This is Ruby and Cookie enjoying some time together – they had been best friends for years.
Cookie then lost vision in her right eye for no apparent reason. She handled that well. But when Dr. Porter and Adam came back, there had been changes – Cookie was a sinker. We went over her history, options, and prognosis (which was grim). We just could not ask anymore of Cookie. Despite everything we were doing for her, her quality of life was deteriorating and we saw no end in sight. Letting Cookie go was the most humane and loving thing we could do – we loved her that much. That final walk and those last few moments are always so difficult.
I never say goodbye when they go to the Bridge but I do remind them how very much they are loved by many. And I stay with them, always, until long after they are gone.
So many go without ever knowing proper care and love and that is so sad. Cookie was blessed – she was loved and she knew it. Dr. Porter reassured us that we had made the best decision for Cookie and that there should be no second guessing. He knows how much these horses mean to me, to us, and he knows that we try to do everything we can to make up for wrongs that humans have done to them before their arrival at Beauty’s Haven.
We were concerned about how Ruby would react to losing her best friend of many years. We gave her time with Cookie to help her understand what was happening. Nobody can convince me that horses don’t grieve and feel a sense of loss for loved ones – they do – and they cry.
Cookie may be gone but she isn’t – her presence is still here. It always will be. Where we are – she will be, as are all of those that have gone to the Bridge over the years – Gentleman, Solace, Ambrosia, Casper, Captain, Jake, Layla, Tonka, Mary, Sawyer, Wally, Princess, Faith, Savannah, Tiny Tim, Momma Sue, Genesis, Doc, Admiral, Charlotte, Frosty, Handsome, Grandma Bones, Valentine, Matilda, Victoria, Zaynah, and many more that were loved beyond measure. They are a part of us, always.
Thank you all for your prayers, words of comfort, and encouragement. We appreciate all of you – volunteers near and far, supporters, care team members – we are very blessed to have the best of the best. God bless you all.
#rainbowbridge #lettinggo #leishmania #horserescue #bhfer #founder #sinker #alwaysinmyheart #cookie #ruby