Animal Memorials 2016
Hannah - December 25, 2016
Today we said good-bye to a dog who epitomizes everything this farm stands for and why we are here. If we could measure a life by the amount of growth that takes place in that lifespan, then we could say that Hannah’s life was enormous. Hannah was truly courageous. She tackled obstacles in her life that would have made many others give up. In fact, if she had been anywhere else, most likely everyone would have given up on her. You can measure Hannah’s growth in this life by how the people around her felt about her. And this is what speaks volumes about Hannah herself.
When Hannah first arrived 14 years ago at 8 months old she was a handful. Beagle and Pit Bull heritage was a tough genetic combination. Hannah once told Dawn she felt like she had a squirrel running around in her head all the time and messing things up. That was a good summation of how it was for Hannah. But Hannah was quickly labeled by many of her caretakers as a “problem dog”. It was a label that proved to judge Hannah in a way that was not true to her heart and spirit. Yet, that label began to define her and confine her. She indeed was a challenge. But underneath all of that was a dog yearning to get out and find her way. What it took was for someone to believe in her and someone to show her the way. Lucky for Hannah, she found both of those.
It is fair to say that in the beginning, Hannah was despised by most of her caretakers except a given few who truly saw her for who she was. But the story we want to focus on in her memorial is who Hannah became. Because thanks largely to a dog friend named Prince, Hannah found a most amazing thing in her life – she found herself. Prince was a Newfoundland/Chow mix who Hannah adored. He taught her patience. He taught her how to listen and still the squirrel running in her head. But more than that, he taught her about friendship. When the humans surrounding them saw Hannah through Prince’s eyes, they began to see the truth and not some lie that was spread around about her.
For the last several years, Hannah has lived a life totally and completely adored by every single one of her caretakers. Hannah came into this world lost and despised and left here 14 years later loved and cherished beyond words. She was at peace with herself and the world. She loved her caretakers as much as they loved her. And the magnificent being we had the privilege to share 14 years of our lives with is now missed more than we can ever say. She taught us not to judge. She taught us that life is not about our human expectations about what an animal’s life should look like, but is about their journey. Hannah’s life was by no means what a normal dog home life would look like. But it not only worked for Hannah, but allowed her to grow and thrive in an environment that was exactly right for her. Hannah left here a much different dog than when she came. And she leaves us a much better organization and much better people than we were 14 years ago as well. Is that not the greatest thing we could say?
Hannah loved Christmas. We have endless photographs of her in santa hats opening gifts that her caretakers brought to her. As age took a toll on her, we all knew we were coming to the end of our journey together. Her caretakers got together and decorated her room for Christmas one last time. They brought in a small tree and decorated it with ornaments that they made for her. They sat and read to her. They took care of her in her failing days in a way that was befitting a princess. On a personal note, from Dawn, I have to say that it touched my heart deeply to see a dog I watched so many people literally hate to one where people were falling all over themselves to love her. Hannah left here surrounded by the energy that was right there within her heart the whole time. For those of us who saw and trusted that glimmer of light in her own chaos, we were not surprised to see who she became. But what we were most grateful for, is that everyone else finally could see it too. Hannah left our embrace Christmas Day. While it was hard for all of us – how fitting for Hannah to leave on the day she liked the most, surrounded by the love of all who held her closely in their hearts. And we know that as she left her body, and ran joyfully into Spirit, a large goofy black Newfy/Chow mix named Prince came to take her home. He always promised her he’d be there. As she left her body, she gave two little barks of joy. She found him, just as he promised she would.
You go with our love Hannah Banana and will be remembered always.
Annie-Purr - November 11, 2016
We are all deeply saddened at the passing of one of our most beloved and affectionate cats. Annie-Purr literally found us less than 2 years ago. She was just a kitten when she was found by our gardeners near our dumpster. She was loudly meowing as if desperately asking for help. When our gardener Trish said, "Hi kitty" the lost little kitten literally ran to her and ran up her leg to her waiting arms and began purring as loud as she could. That was Annie from day one. She was sickly, covered in fleas, and starving. Someone most likely had dumped her off on the side of the road in front of our farm. It happens a lot. Many don't survive the road. Luckily, Annie did. Sadly, Annie was indeed very ill and tested positive for Feline Leukemia. We knew by experience that when they are that young and that ill and test positive that chances are we wouldn't have her in our lives for long. Sadly, that was how it worked out. But Annie was a light in all of our hearts. She wasn't here long, only 2 years, but her light burned bright. She was an absolute love and purr machine right up to her last breath. In the end, a tumor on her spine rendered her unable to walk and Annie let us know when she had enough of a failing body and we helped her on her way. She leaves behind a lot of her caretakers that are heartbroken to let her go. And we'd like to thank a most incredible volunteer, Eileen, who was also Annie's sponsor. Eileen came to visit Annie often and sat with her, loving her, and grooming her, and just spending quality time with her. Annie never tired of any of that and was always grateful. Thank you Annie for reminding us how precious life is and for shining your light into all of our hearts.
Annie - July 7, 2016
Today, we lost a friend. Annie was a most amazing friend. Her passing took us all by surprise and our loss feels huge. But, we put aside our grief to honor a pony who deserves a moment of remembrance for a job done amazingly well and a life lived fully. Annie was 26 years old. She was with us for 5 years, yet it seemed like so much longer. Annie played a major role in our herd and for this she will always be remembered and revered. Annie truly was a good friend and that is what she aspired to be. Her life was complete and fulfilled.
All of our horses have bio’s on our website and on their stall signs and we ask each of them what it is they would like to say about themselves. This is the quote that is on Annie’s sign from her:
"The biggest job I have in my life is to be a trusted friend. It is a job I take very seriously. I can't give the gift of sight back to my friends, however, if I can be the eyes that they trust, then I've done my job well. Life is good."
Annie was a friend and seeing-eye pony to our pony Molly who went blind. Molly’s world was devastated when she lost her sight and came here to “retire” at only age 13. Her world turned upside down and she had great trouble adapting. Just at that moment, Annie arrived. We knew instantly that she had come to be the friend that Molly needed. We introduced them and they hit it off instantly. Annie has been Molly’s eyes and her friend ever since. For 5 years, they have been there side by side for one another. Annie often expressed to us that the greatest gift she had to share in life was her friendship. And her friendship changed Molly’s life dramatically. Through the strength and trust of Annie’s friendship, Molly found a new way to live. She found her own inner vision and way in life and she found her trust and confidence to move on. Molly got her life back. Annie was the one who helped her find it. We, the human caretakers, had front row seats to a beautiful example of how friendship changes lives. We saw it every day.
Today, Molly’s world dramatically changed again. Annie had never been sick. Other than some arthritis, she was in excellent shape. We didn’t even think of her as being a senior horse, yet she was. But a very sudden and violent colic came out of nowhere and despite all of our efforts and drugs and things we could do for her, we could not fix it or ease her pain. We had to set her free.
While our heads can’t make sense of the fact she is no longer here, our hearts know something different. That same inner vision that she taught Molly to trust is showing us something different for ourselves. All of us were worried for Molly. What will she do now? But Annie whispered in our hearts and said, “Molly doesn’t need me with her anymore to trust life because she knows with all her heart that she can trust that my friendship is always with her and always will be.”
Annie – if friendship was the gift you came to give in this lifetime and the biggest job you came to do – you lived your life amazingly well. Your friendship did more than touch one heart. You have touched our lives forever with the gift of seeing and experiencing what friendship really is. Well done Annie. Well done.
Missy - May 28, 2016
Today we said good-bye to an incredible little pony. Missy was 30 years old. Missy had an amazing journey with us. She was the first one of a family group of five ponies to arrive on the farm 25 years ago. And in the past 3 years, she watched each of her family pass into spirit while she stayed on to see things through. The first to come. The last to leave. She expressed to Dawn the day she left, “I’m going to be sad to leave, but what better way to go. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to say and feel. I’ve lived this well.”
Indeed, she lived this life well and made amazing strides along with us over the years. Missy came in just as Spring Farm CARES was born. She was one of our first intakes as a young non-profit animal sanctuary. She saw us through many challenges and lots of growth and we saw her do the same. Together, we helped each other expand and grow and deepen our understanding of life and love and family. Missy learned a lot about herself, and in the process, she taught us a lot about ourselves too.
We will never forget the day we met her. She came from a horrible situation. A barn literally jam packed with about 30 ponies all crammed in wall to wall almost unable to move. They all looked alike. All were horrifically inbred. Many were blind. We were there to take one of them out of there. How can you choose just one? Who do we take? As we stood there feeling overwhelmed, a pony way in the back made eye-contact. It was as if a magnet drew her to us. She literally pushed her way through the crowd of ponies and came up to Dawn and put her head in Dawn’s chest and sighed. She was pregnant and due to soon foal. And we knew this was the pony who was supposed to come with us. Dawn put the halter on her, and she and Bonnie led Missy out to the waiting trailer. Without hesitation Missy walked on and we brought her home. Little did we know at the time that Missy had never before been haltered or led. And once we got to the farm and took that halter off, Missy wouldn’t let us catch her for quite some time. Missy knew she wanted out of that horrible place and chose us with such determination. She had her foal a few days later safe at our farm. That was how Missy went through life – with great determination.
And that determination fueled her final days as her health became jeopardized by one problem after another. At age 30, Missy overcame health issues that would have been thought to be impossible to overcome. She was a fighter. She was one determined little pony. Over the years, Missy went from being pretty much unhandleable to being a complete love. She enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed her. She may have been small but she sure was mighty. She learned to love to be pampered and fussed over – and boy was she fussed over.
Missy’s passing is the end of an era for us at the farm. We have been blessed by this little being who chose us as her people and our lives will never be the same. She held a huge space at the farm – always watching over everything – and offering her quiet and constant support. As she passed into spirit she communicated to Dawn a message that leaves us all knowing what she found when she crossed over. She simply said, “I found em!” We are sure that a whole lot of horses that she has seen come and go through our gates welcomed her arrival. Most especially a group of four ponies who welcomed her back to their herd and thanked her for all she had ever done for them and where she brought them. Missy, the pony who started the safe passage to our farm for all of them, and for whom they now held a space for her as she left the beloved farm she called home for 25 years. Run free Little Missus. It’s our turn now to take the halter off one final time. You are always welcome to come back around again.
Buster - May 14, 2016
Today one of the quietest and yet most profound horses to ever grace this farm left us in just the manner he’d have been most proud of. Buster was currently our oldest horse at age 36. He wasn’t sick. He seemed normal to us when we said good-night to him last night. Yet this morning when his caretakers arrived in the barn, he was gone. Only the shell of his body remained and his shocked and saddened caretakers were left wondering how to proceed without him here.
Buster was the second horse to leave this week after loosing TJ just 5 days before. We are all sad. And at the same time we are all joyful with the knowledge that he left the very way he lived – quietly, in the background, with no fuss or drama. That was our friend Buster. Buster was a Standardbred who wore the body of a soul who’d seen a lot of things in his life. In his form you could see strength and endurance. And you could see pain and hard times too. But inside all of that, was a quiet and dignified being who was kind and deep in his Buster kind of way. He was large – quite large actually. His body was deteriorating with time and the hard work that filled his life. But he was still like a young horse when his caretakers went to take him out to pasture. It didn’t matter how old and stiff he became. When the halter was removed, he was like a racehorse at the gate and ready to fly. And fly he did. Some days he seemed so stiff that it was hard to walk. But when that gate opened to his pasture, he’d always trot off finding joy in the sun and moving like the grace of an eagle in the wind.
Buster was simple and yet he was beauty and elegance in his very own special way. He asked very little of anyone. He hated a fuss be made over him. He spent the last 7 years of his life with us and we are proud to have known him. All of his caretakers can tell you that it took a while for them to get to know him. He was simply low key. Yet when you figured that out, he was larger than life and had a simple presence about him that was quite refreshing actually. Nothing complicated. Nothing draining. He was simply…. Buster.
We watched him react to TJ’s passing this week and one of his caretakers even felt him say, “I don’t want a lot of drama around me when it’s my time to go. Just let me go without all of that!” Little did we all know that the time for letting him go would come so swiftly. Today, we are in shock. Yet, our hearts are laughing with this most unusual horse who managed to do something extraordinary. He simply slipped out - almost unnoticed – without drama or fuss or fanfare. His passing was quick and noble and so befitting of him.
Buster - dear friend - we probably wouldn’t have known how to say good-bye in a way that felt ok to you. Truth is, it would have been hard to find a way to say good-bye. As you left your old bones behind, we are certain that you left with strength and purpose and galloped out of this farm and back into the herd of spirit horses who no doubt were waiting for you to come home. Happy journey noble one. And in spite of your liking to stay in the background – you touched a lot of hearts deeply and we will always be grateful for the time we spent together and will remember you forever. May you run free and fast and light.
TJ - May 9, 2016
Today, a gentle giant left our embrace and left us all with the amazing gift of his presence here for the past 25 years. TJ was 30 years old. While our bodies will miss touching him, our hearts are filled with all the ways he has touched us over the years. TJ was a big presence in an extra large body. TJ was as gentle as he was large. He was everything a horse represents with magnificence and grace. He was kind and gentle and funny. He was soft and he was wise. And for many, he was a true inspiration.
TJ started to go blind at the age of 5 years. At that time, we took him in knowing he’d soon be blind and need special care. But TJ was in fact a very functionally blind horse. He totally put his trust and faith in us. He couldn’t see a thing yet he was a horse with great vision. He was a horse of great integrity. He was strong. He was courageous. And he was comfortable to be himself.
What TJ lacked in eyesight he made up for by “feeling” his way through life. He knew each and every one of his caretakers by their hearts and by their touch. He could see through the darkness of his eyes to the light of each and every animal and human in his life. He could find a carrot in a pocket or know when someone had one in their hand clear across the barn and would nicker for it in his deep heart reaching voice. TJ couldn’t speak words, but he could whisper into your heart in a way that spoke pure truth.
He was a favorite of every one of his caretakers. TJ appreciated every single thing done for him. From his daily massages, carrot stretch exercises, and medications to his favorite summer bath times – TJ enjoyed every one of his human caretakers as much as they enjoyed him. TJ had a way of teaching that no matter how bad things seemed, there is never a darkness that cannot be penetrated by the light of something bigger. That is the way he lived. And today it was also the way he left us.
He surprised us all by his departure. We weren’t ready for this yet. His horse friends stood beside him watching over him, keeping vigil, being present in a way the horses do for one another. His human caretakers stayed by his side for hours as we figured out what our gentle giant needed. As it became clear that something had happened to his body that we could no longer help, we all let it sink into our hearts that it was time for him to go. Just as we had opened our doors to have him move into our barn 25 years ago, it was now time for us to open the doors again and let him move on and out of a body that could no longer house his massive spirit. TJ left with the grace and dignity that defined him so well. And as big as the physical space was where he once stood, there is now the large empty space where we can’t see him.
But the beauty is that TJ left us all with a lesson on how to get through this. He taught us that just because we can’t see him doesn’t mean he’s not there. He taught us that there is no emptiness at all if we just feel our way through to what is there instead of looking to see it. We can’t see him anymore, but there is not a one of us who can’t feel him anymore. All we need to do is look inside of our hearts and he is right there as large as ever. This was TJ’s legacy. We hold him in our hearts as he taught us to do. We will trust that he is always there, as he did with us although he couldn’t see any of us. And we will trust the journey we are on just as he showed us. Step by step trusting the feelings that take us where we need to go. That is TJ’s gift to the farm and is the gift that he has left behind for others to feel well into the future – even though they can’t see him.
Thank you TJ. Thank you for 25 years of a most amazing ride together. You travel on with our gratitude and love and the hope that we will meet up with you again and feel your amazing heart. Because no matter how dark it ever seems, we will know that your light is always brighter than any darkness could be.
Wee Wee - April 29, 2016
Wee Wee was a most unusual and unique cat. She was an exotic breed of cat called a Highlander Jungle cat. Unfortunately, she came with a myriad of health problems and genetic issues that left her having very special needs. However, the most special thing about Wee Wee is that she didn’t want to be seen as being special. People were drawn to her by her looks but that wasn’t at all the quality that was important to Wee Wee. In fact, just as quickly as people were drawn to Wee Wee, they were also often repulsed by her. Wee Wee was born with nasal passageways and ear canals that were smaller than normal. This predisposed her to ear and upper respiratory infections which meant that she continually had a nasal discharge and sneezed a lot all over everyone and everything. Just as people who only saw Wee Wee for her unusual features missed what Wee Wee was all about, so did the people who only saw her as repulsive.
Wee Wee had a heart of gold and was a most honorable and loving soul. She gave great care to all of the cats she shared her room with over the years. She was a caretaker of her cat friends as well as for her human caretakers. Those who truly understood Wee Wee didn’t care at all when she sneezed on them. And not one other cat she lived with ever saw her as anything other than the friend she was to all of them.
Wee Wee expected nothing from anyone in this world. She would just give of herself to anyone who would share with her. And that was her world and what her life purpose became.
Recently, one of her human caretakers who loved Wee Wee dearly, offered to take her home to be companion to her two young human children. Wee Wee had tons to offer them and taught them some of the greatest lessons that we are sure they will carry with them their whole lives. It doesn’t matter what is on the outside, its whats on the inside that matters most. And don’t judge anything or anyone by how they look but instead look to see who they are. That is Wee Wee’s legacy.
In the end, she developed a nasal tumor, which sadly grew very fast. Soon it would interfere with her breathing and we needed to help her find peace from the body that so often held her hostage from people seeing who she really was. But for the people who did see her – our lives will always reflect the beauty that lived inside her heart and radiated always in all the things she did.
Red Barron - March 1, 2016
Although we are all saddened by the loss of this mighty soul in a little body, we can only celebrate the fact that he left his paw prints in our hearts forever. When Red arrived here at the farm in fall of 2012, no one thought he had long to live. He was estimated to be 12 years old, was extremely obese, had several huge fatty tumors, and a myriad of health problems. He looked miserable, he smelled bad (sorry Red, but its true), and he could barely walk. He was a sad sight indeed. When we took him to our veterinarian and an assortment of diagnostic tests were done, his list of medical challenges just grew and grew. He had thyroid problems and heart problems and joint problems. But nothing was keeping this boy's spirits down. He won our hearts in short order. One by one, we began to address each medical issue. And day by day he improved. He lost weight and his joints felt better as a result. His body began to come back into balance. And Red began to thrive. We watched the most amazingly gorgeous, loving, and humorous dog unfold.
Red had an amazing sense of humor. He just kept trucking and never looked back. No hill was too high. No bird was left unchased. And for sure, no heart was left untouched. To meet Red and to be loved by Red was an honor in and of itself. He was a little dynamo. Red also adopted one of his caretakers and made it very clear that she was all his. For the past two years, he was fostered by her and her family. Red lived a whole second lifetime in the past two years. He had kids to look after, chickens to keep in place, and other dogs to keep in line. He was clearly the man in charge (sorry Steven!). But most of all, Red was loved beyond measure by a family who is missing him greatly but is grateful to have had them in their lives. Red went on family camping trips and visited all sorts of places. He made friends wherever he went. He was just that kind of guy. Red, was probably about 16 years old, when his body could no longer support the spirit who never wanted to leave. He left us all with many memories. And he leaves us with a message. One of our favorite photos of him was taken on his last camping trip. Red on the beach, looking out over the lake, and contemplating life. Below is his message.
From Red Barron: "It is always fitting to look to the horizon. Never looking for what we can't achieve, but focusing on all we can dream of still doing. My dream will never end. I will always be ready for more. As one day ends, the next begins. And onward I shall go."
Red leaves behind his family who he loves with all his heart. And he leaves us all a legacy of realizing the grace in believing that nothing is impossible, and no hill is ever too high. Thank you Red.