LB: Live! From Paradise #236 – “Huck is Crying”

(The Intro above is from this column's previous web incarnation)

by Larry Brody

Huck is crying.

He hides it with a stallion’s squeal.

Last week in this space I wrote about the death of Rosie the Romantic Arabian while Gwen the Beautiful and I were out of the country.

Mostly, I quoted the e-mails about her illness, because I was too stunned to find my own words. It’s still difficult for me to separate my sadness at the loss of this fine young woman (who also just happened to be a horse) from my shock at it having occurred without so suddenly.

Huck the Spotless Appaloosa, however, has no such problem.

He feels miserable, and he knows it.

And he’s angry. Testosterone-fueled sadness flaring as fury.

Although Huck officially is a gelding, he’s what horse people call a “proud cut,” filled with as much spice as many stallions.

“I couldn’t escape from the knife,” he once said to me. “But I’ve beaten it.”

And now, only a few weeks since his mare died of colic, he’s beating me.

“You weren’t here, Larry,” he whinnied this morning. “Rosie and I needed your help. But my two-legged brother who swore to keep us safe was gone!”

“I had work to do,” I said. “I’m writing a movie about something that happened far away. Gwen and I had to check it out.”

“How far?” Huck said.

“On the other side of the globe.”

“Is that as far as across the road? Or down the other side of The Mountain?” He regarded me accusingly. “Were you where those mares I smell are? The ones I call to but never get to see?”

“Farther than that, Huck. Much farther.”

He snorted. “You expect me to believe you could go way off like that with only two legs? And no hooves! How far can you get with no hooves?”

“You’re the one complaining that I wasn’t here. So it must seem to you like I got pretty far.”

Huck kicked out with his hind legs. Whirled as though trying to catch the kick in his own chest. “Seems to me you must’ve been hiding in a shed, or in some trees. Hiding from Rosie’s sickness and my pain. Doing whatever you could to not have to deal with that bellyache that killed her.”

“I wanted to be here, My Brother. I wish I’d been able to do something for her —”

“You and me both, Brother,” he said, making the word sound like a curse. He tossed his head, mane flying. Looked at me more closely. “I wonder…what you could’ve done.”

“No more than Billy did,” I said. “Maybe less.”

“Billy took her away,” said Huck. “He’s the reason I’m alone.”

“He took her to the vet. So you wouldn’t be alone. Brought her home, too. And buried her.”

“I smelled that,” Huck said. “I smelled it, and I heard it. But I didn’t see it.”

“Want to?”

Huck nodded. Hard. I went to the hay shed and got a lead rope. Came back and put it around his neck like a lasso. I took him out the far gate of the corral, and together we walked down the unpaved driveway to the pond, then up to the little meadow where Billy Morningstar and Delly the Interstate Trucker, with the help of a backhoe, had buried Rosie.

Huck and I stopped at the marker Billy had built. A round-capped fencepost with a crossbeam across which Rosie’s halter and lead rope hung. In the center of the crossbeam was a little metal sculpture—a horse’s head within a horseshoe. Everything was in the colors of Cloud Creek Ranch. Barn red with white trim.

“I still don’t see her,” Huck said. “But I feel her.”

“Is that better for you?”

“She feels beautiful.”

“How do you feel?”

Huck hesitated. Then:

“Empty,” he said.

He took a couple of steps away from the bare earth that covered his lost love. Lowered his head. Munched on the auburn Autumn grass. “This ought to fill me up fine.”

As I watched him I thought about other deaths of beloved ones Gwen and I have experienced here in the wilds of the Ozarks.





Humans too.

All these creatures are people to me, whether they were human or not.

Oh! So many people!

Here and then gone. And what do I do?

I write about them.

It’s what I’m best at.

My way, I tell you, Huck—and all my other Brothers and Sisters—of trying to help.

LB: Live! From Paradise #235 – “Farewell, Rosie”

(The Intro above is from this column's previous web incarnation)

by Larry Brody

Last month, Gwen the Beautiful and I traveled to China on a work trip I’ll write about another time. On the third day, while we still were severely jet-lagged by the 13 hour time difference, we got an e-mail from our closest neighbor, Delly the Interstate Trucker.

Billy Morningstar, Delly’s former husband, has been staying with Delly and Buck the Ex-Navy Seal and helping both them and us with various chores for awhile. All was well at Cloud Creek Ranch when we left him looking after our animals, but after three days that situation had changed.

“Yesterday morning Billy found Rosie down and rolling. We were worried about colic so he walked her to keep her up. She has stayed on her feet but is lethargic and won’t eat anything.

“She may have a mouth problem. I’m going to see if we can find anything obvious, but Billy wants to know if there’s anything else you think we should do.

“Huck is doing fine. He’s all ‘What’s the fuss about Rosie? Pay attention to me!'”

This report was followed in the same e-mail queue by another:

“We flushed Rosie’s mouth out. She has no visible injuries, but although she tries to eat she stops right away. We’ll call the vet tomorrow and let you know what he says.”

I answered Delly immediately, and the next day we learned, “Still no eating, or drinking either. The Doc gave her a B12 shot and wormed her in case that’s the issue. He walked the pasture looking for something bad she may have ate but found nothing. This evening she didn’t want to stay on her feet and went down.

“Billy got her up several times and walked her, but as soon as he let go she laid down again. It’s 10 P.M. Billy has been at your place for over 2 hours and just called to say Rosie has started to roll.

“Rosie is not looking good. I’d say to pray a bit. Huck is still fine.”

A few hours later Delly updated us. “Billy just stopped in to get his glasses and said Rosie is getting weak now, and raising her head in a weird way, which has us more worried. Billy hasn’t had much sleep. He is devoted to keeping Rosie on her feet. Tomorrow morning he and I will see if we can get her into the trailer and take her to the animal hospital.”

The next day Delly wrote:

“Rosie trailered beautifully, but Doc says she is colicking and is critical. They tubed her to break loose intestinal blockage and will do it again this evening. I know you are busy. It’s the pits to have to worry like this.. Keep praying.”

An e-mail from the vet came soon after, describing the further treatment that needed to be done and asked for authorization. We e-mailed the go-ahead, copying Delly, who responded, “Seems we are on the right track with Rosie. Doc says she is looking better. Have a good day.”

Having a good day wasn’t exactly possible given the situation, but Gwen and I felt reassured. Until that night, when we received two more e-mails.

First, from the vet:

“…I’m writing with bad news.

“Despite fluid therapy and a variety of pain medication we were only able to keep Rosie comfortable for short periods of time. This morning, Billy and Delly made a difficult decision to euthanize her. In my professional opinion this was the right treatment. I suspect she had a torsed bowel. We are not a surgical facility, and Rosie never would have survived a long trailer ride to the closest one. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

And, from Delly:

“Dearest ones, I am so sorry. We are are shedding tears here as these past few days have brought us so close to Rosie. We feel so bad that you are so far away and have to deal with this long distance.

“I thought if it would be a comfort to you we could bury her beside your pond. May God hold you both close and give you comfort in knowing Rosie is in no pain now and running the Rainbow Pastures with mane flying and that beautiful tail high in the air.

“Billy already had a talk with Huck and the dogs. He said when he went up there everything was still. No barking. No Dixie jumping. He said it was like they knew what happened.

“He said, ‘Huck is crying.'”