My most beloved, beautiful horse, Pumpkin, is on his last legs, literally.
Approaching an incredible age of 30, his hind legs are finally giving out.
To watch him struggle every day, is a struggle for me.
The vet has put him on some stronger anti-inflammatories, which are helping a little bit.
But his aura has changed.
I fear the inevitable, is imminent.
His pasture mates, Charlie the Quarter Horse, and Alistair, the miniature donkey, seem to know what is coming.
They seem to sense that Pumpkin is becoming less of the lead horse.
Perhaps not less, but less likely to enforce his stature.
They are becoming more familiar.
And in a horse herd, that should not be allowed.
My heart has already broken into a thousand pieces, before it has even broken.
The vet has told me that he is suffering, and should be laid to rest sooner rather than later.
I cannot come to terms with that.
I believe Pumpkin will let me know when he is ready to go.
But I have started to investigate making arrangements for Pumpkin.
And it is an eye-opening experience.
I have learned that there is no real DIGNIFIED way to say goodbye to your horse.
A member of the family, a companion, a “pet” in the largest sense of the word.
The most fortunate of people, as I was with my last horse, Cheyenne, are able to bury them, on the property where they passed. A farm, a pasture, a paddock. Blessedly fortunate are they.
But if that option is not possible, there are few other choices.
A horse near its end of life is often sent to “auction” which ostensibly means to slaughter.
That means that a once-beloved companion and service animal and pet could very soon be in a can of pet food.
And to boot, the person who is bringing that horse to “auction” may even make a couple of bucks.
Heaven forbid they be out a couple of bucks.
Another common option is the “pick-up” truck.
For about $200 cash, a truck will come and winch your horse’s body into its cargo, which could include the bodies of cows, sheep, pigs, and other “deadstock”.
Their bodies are then taken away where they are disposed of in a communal incinerator.
Then there is the local hide company, which will pick up an animal and use its skin for leather. I am not sure how popular horses are for that use, but it is an option.
I am not able to bury Pumpkin, so I would like to have him cremated, and his ashes returned to me.
There is only one “licensed” horse crematorium in the entire province of Ontario.
It is located in Dorchester, near London, about 2.5 hours from us.
They will pick up your horse, gently “winching” him into a large open trailer, and singularly transport him back to their facility.
A dedicated transport, so to speak.
No other animals on board.
Just your horse.
He is then cremated immediately, singularly, individually.
He is then returned to you in a beautiful urn.
A 1200 pound horse is reduced to about 70 pounds of cremated remains.
Still, a substantial amount.
I am wondering what to do with those remains.
They can, and will, be scattered for sure.
But a great comfort to any horse owner, who does not like the idea of a) sending their horse to be pet food; b) dismissing their horse to be disposed of in a communal pit with other deadstock; c) turning their horse into leather.
A cool $3,500 plus tax.
I realize that to bury a human with the full out, all frills funeral can cost upwards of $10,000.
And the least costly part of that is the actual cremation, which costs a modest $500.
And there are other exhorbitant costs in this world which are helping me to justify the cost.
For example, I know a lady who breeds purebred, exotic cats and sells the kittens for $1000 each.
For a kitten!
And of course, people spend astronomical amounts on cars and other luxuries.
So, should I be balking at that price?
It seems extremely high for such a service.
So what is the price for dignity?
I feel that dignity should be available at a more reasonable price.
That someone who is suffering the emotional and devastating loss of a pet companion and friend should not have to settle for a less than dignified end.
Some people may think that the body is just a husk, and it doesn’t care what is done with it.
And so perhaps what is done with the body is more for the living, for those left behind, than the deceased.
But for more people to be able to access a dignified end and not have to suffer the distress of not feeling able to afford it for their friend, would be a beautiful thing.
The price of dignity should not be so high that it is undignified.