We are very sad to report that Devon crossed the Rainbow Bridge on Thursday 1/24/19.
Devon came to us last year because he had contracted EHV-1, which is a virus that affects the neurological parts of a horse’s body. It is a devastating illness, but his owners and the vets were able to get him through the worst part of the virus. Devon came to Hanaeleh a few months later, and he quickly became a favorite of our volunteers because of his gentle nature. He was incredibly sweet, and everyone loved him.
Devon would sometimes have neurological issues that created problems for him, especially when it came to getting up. We believe that his signals on his right and left side would get crossed, and this would make it difficult for him to get up after lying down. Sometimes he would cut himself trying to get up, or hurt his leg. Even through all of this, however, Devon was a trooper, and enjoyed being handwalked around our property or up the street.
We were actually hopeful that we were on the upswing near the end of the year; Devon was walking well and seemed to be getting stronger. Unfortunately, earlier this month, when we noticed that his right leg and scrotum were swollen. We called the vet, who diagnosed an infection, and we cleared his bladder out in case it was a bladder infection.
After a few weeks Devon’s infection had not gone away, and the swelling had not gone down. The vet gave us another round of antibiotics, but she was not hopeful that he would get any better. Unfortunately with these cases the horses’ immune systems are so compromised that they cannot fight off any infection. Once the neurological pathways are destroyed by the virus, they cannot grow back, and this not only is what mixed up Devon’s right and left signals, but it also prevented his body from signaling that it needed to fight off an infection.
We were cautiously hopeful that there would be some miracle and Devon would finally rally with this second set of antibiotics, but this morning he was down and could not get up on his own. With a lot of help from us, he got up, but his left side was swollen and he had been obviously struggling. Although we wanted Devon to recover, it became clear to us that there was just no medical resolution to his condition, and prolonging his life would only mean more suffering. We called the vet, and they came out Thursday afternoon 1/24/19.
It was a very quiet, peaceful afternoon, with just a few of us around. We let Devon know what a wonderful boy he was, and how much we loved him. In his usual fashion, he was very sweet and very calm, and pressed his head into my body right before he left us.
Rescue groups like Hanaeleh often have to deal with more end-of-life decisions than most people because of the types of horses we rescue, but it never gets easier. There is always the indecision of whether it is the right thing to do, even when logically we know it is. We always want there to be some magical resolution that will make everything better. We always hope for the last minute miracle. More often than not, however, the only option is to ensure that the horse is no longer in any undue pain, and that is the ultimate gift that we can give them.
No matter how much we may tell ourselves this, however, we are still faced with the loss of a friend.
Each horse at Hanaeleh is like a family member; we know their likes and dislikes, we know their little idiosyncrasies, and we even know their favorite foods. Devon had his silly quirks:
- He liked to lick the pipes
- He was best friends with Hershey, but would scream when Popcorn was taken out.
- He was desperately in love with Ruby.
- He hated to walk around the round pen or arena, but would walk around the property.
Devon was a very special horse and this was only accentuated through his kind, gentle nature. So many of our volunteers enjoyed working with him and he was incredibly loved by his family before he came to Hanaeleh, and while he was with us. We’re sad that we did not get much time with him, but we will always treasure the time we were blessed to have known him.