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November 26, 2013: The Ethos of Rescue Animals

The horses that were in the field across the road from us last year are back, in the same field. This time around there is a shelter (located in what in the spring and summer is a marsh), and there’s a barbed wire fence around the front part of the field. I have named these horses (this is always a bad thing) Horses One, Two, and Three. Horse Two is pregnant, which is why I call her Two.

For two of the past three weeks that they’ve been there, I’ve been doling out old hay to them. I hoped that their owner would come and take them elsewhere, like she did the last time. This way, I would no longer be thinking 24/7

about her neglectful ways and the effect this is having on the horses. It was definitely an instance of “out of sight, out of mind.” But deep down, I knew that these horses were not getting any better care than they were previously.

Yesterday I ran out of old hay. I cannot feed these horses our good stuff because it costs $12.00 a bale. This is a lot of money for hay. I did consider continuing to feed them the good stuff, thereby abandoning the “mine,” “yours,” “ours” mentality that prevails in today’s society. But, the bottom line is, should I do this, our horses will go hungry in the spring.

I might think otherwise if we were flush, but we are not. Pete’s on sabbatical, getting just two-thirds of his regular salary. I’m writing and looking for work, so I’m not contributing to our financial situation.

I talked to the horses’ owner today – she said she has not been able to find any hay, anywhere. This doesn’t ring true – we got back here October 1, and we have a full hay barn. I did tell her I’d get some names and phone numbers of hay dealers. I will pass them on to her.

The problem is, this horse owner knows how to work the system. Her animals are enclosed and have a shelter. They also have access to creek water. And their ribs aren’t showing. She also says that they will do just fine on brush. So, there is nothing I can do. What I am going to have to do is turn my head and look the other way. This is just the way it is. I have a big heart, but sad to say, my animals must continue to come first.

I harbor feelings of ambivalence about animal rescue in general. People tend to take on animals because they see them as being poor, pitiful, abused, and neglected creatures. It’s an instance in which in many cases, empathy goes awry.

Many rescue people also take things to extremes, and continue to acquire animals. What then often happens is that they lack the necessary financial means and time needed to adequately care for them. These individuals also have the notion that rescue animals are “special.”

Some might say we rescue animals. Definitionally, the horses and goats don’t qualify since they came from good homes. However the dogs might. Ryder was dumped at an Idaho Trailhead, Rainbow was found running loose in a Butte, Montana cow field and later adopted from the pound, and Jenna was left on a Palmer, Alaska doorstep. But I don’t consider them to be rescue dogs. They’re just dogs living their doggie lives. We do tell people the circumstances by which they were acquired because it makes for good conversation. But that’s it. They have all received excellent care and will continue to do so. We won’t take any more dogs on because then the quality of their lives and ours would decline. Three is a manageable number, and four is a pack.

The best any of us can do is give the animals that come into our lives good homes. And at some point, we have to say no more. I am good with that.

Of course, I am going to continue to agonize inwardly about the horses across the road. This is just my nature. But this is with the knowledge that others must in this instance step up to the plate.

Next: 246: 11/27/13: Taking Risks