Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Painful Lessons

When the dogs are hurt, we load them into the back of the Jeep and take them either to our regular Vet, or to the 24-hour clinic where he works part-time. When the goats are hurt, the process is basically the same.

Hindsight being 20/20 and all, we should have asked ourselves, “So what happens if the horse is hurt?”

The short answer is, we load him into the back of the Jeep and take him to the Vet. In this case, because of our regular Vet’s unavailability, we take him to a large animal Vet who seems to be completely nonplussed by the presence of a horse in the back of a Jeep and who is totally prepared to perform minor surgical procedures in the back of said Jeep.

The first trick: getting the horse into the back of the Jeep. Begin by layering tarps and sheets across the folded-down rear cargo area. As it turns out, this is the easy part. With horse haltered and on a lead, attempt to convince him that the feed in the dish you are holding is sooooo yummy and sooooo enticing, he would like to crawl up into a metal box to eat it. When simple enticements do not work, offer him the accommodation of a telescoping dog ramp which he politely declines. Attempt to lift said horse into the rear of the Jeep. Abandon this effort when hatch-door comes to horse’s rescue and hits horse-hoister on the top of the head. Try the concessionary move of placing horse’s front hooves onto rear bumper of the Jeep for the pleasure of observing the ruts caused by horse’s rear legs as he backs out of the situation.

Eventually, he was coaxed into the rear of the Jeep after the vehicle had been backed up to the trailer deck portion at the top of the wheelchair ramp. By placing granules of grain on the ramp, a la Hansel and Gretel, and suggesting with gentle tugs on his lead that he follow them, using the aforementioned telescoping ramp untelescoped as a threshold, sitting on the speaker box at the side of the cargo area in the Jeep, and coaxing him far enough into the vehicle to be able to close the hatch.

The second trick: getting the horse in the back of the Jeep to the Veterinary Clinic without some type of major damage to the horse, the Jeep, or me.

K has this funny thing about negative inferences. She says that you shouldn’t say what you don’t want someone to do, because they will automatically envision themselves doing it and then it will happen. My poor buddy Val, came to appreciate this lesson quite painfully one time when she admonished a hammer-swinging K, “Don’t hit my thumb.”

So the whole car ride to the Vet, I am telling myself, “don’t visualize what you don’t want to happen.” And my mind keeps responding with unhelpful suggestions like, “Oh yeah, like him kicking out all the windows?”

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every last person who, when told of K’s intention to acquire a miniature horse, responded by asking me if he bites. Because at some point in time thanks to the sense of humor of either Bill the horse or the cosmos, Bill’s lead rope got caught around my headrest and held his head right over my right ear and shoulder, which on the one hand was a relief since I could then abandon the image of him kicking me in the back of the head as I was driving, in exchange for the visual image of him taking a big old bite out of my shoulder.

While the cosmos were busy playing tricks on me, here is another sad twist: having loaded Bill into the back of the Jeep and having started to make my very tense-but-I-am-trying-to-put-good-energy-out-there-so-Bill-will-not-feed-off-of-my-energy-and-kick-or-bite drive to the Vet, I passed by Steve and Carolyn’s house, where Steve had arrived home just a few minutes previously. His red pickup truck sat, gleaming and utilitarian in their front drive. Had I know this was his early day at work, we would have placed a XXL kennel in the back of his pickup and transported Bill to the Vet thusly. Inertia being what it was, I put my unbitten shoulder to the wheel and pressed on with the wheels already having been set in motion.

We made it to the Vet without incident.

Bill needed stitches in his eyelid, which was accomplished in the back of the Jeep by a very flexible and very nice Vet. In order to perform the procedure, the Vet gave Bill a mild sedative, which made me feel much more secure about making the trip home. Much to all three of our surprise, I was able to hold Bill’s head steady and help with the suturing.

I profusely thanked the Vet, gathered up the antibiotic and ointment for continued care, happily paid for our services, and returned to the Jeep to chauffer Bill home.

The sedative was working nicely. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that shot must have contained a Veterinary form of ecstasy. Thanks to the sedative and whatever elixir was contained therein, I learned today that it is possible to drive a standard transmission vehicle with the head of a drooling, loving, bleeding horse resting on your right shoulder, upper arm, and inner elbow.

When we arrived home, convincing Bill to use the ramp to exit the vehicle was no more successful than using it to encourage his entrĂ©e. With Bill’s sedative offering a calming affect for us all, I was able to fashion a different approach for Bill’s extrication from my Jeep. I backed the Jeep up to a low-lying area so the bumper was just a few inches off the ground, and convinced Bill he could make the 4-inch leap with a smattering of pixie dust and a tug on the lead.

And herein lies the most valuable lesson from today’s escapade, as I return home greatly relieved and probably more in love with a horse than I had ever anticipated being, I am awestruck by these magnificent MisFit Farm creatures who offer breathtaking everyday reminders that we can do things we never before thought were within our capacity, no matter how foolhardy they may be.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my. Do I perhaps envision a different vehicle for the Misfits? Possibly a "mini-van"? Or would that be bringing a negative inference to mind?


Whatever happened to his eye?


Anonymous said...

If I didn't know you, I'd SWEAR you made this stuff up just to entertain and con the average onlooker...

You can't buy characters like this.
Crap - my sides hurt.


PS - got the holiday hellos at work yesterday!
That was awesome!
We sent off somethin' fer you'all too.
Much love floating your way.