I hate this. I hate writing this so much.
With Boss running a fever of 103 (very bad news for a little guy), it seems likely that he isn’t going to make it. Reluctantly, we gave Boss up to our vet, who could give him 24-hour care in an effort to save him. The part that sucks is…if Boss makes it through the night, he’s theirs to keep. Now, let me be up front here – I’d rather have him alive, healthy, and living somewhere else with someone else than lose him. After all, that’s the whole point of this horse-breeding business that my wife and her family engage in. It may seem like a massive game of Pokemon with equine genetics, trying to see what combination of bloodlines produces an Arabian horse that conforms to a set of ideals set by humans (and yes, there is indeed a whole can of worms there, possibly a six-pack of such cans, which I just don’t feel like digging into now)…but the end result is, hopefully, a hearty and attractive enough combination of said bloodlines, embodied in a beautiful filly or colt, that someone else will want to buy for a lot of money so they can cross this new specimen with one of their own. The idea was to raise Boss and sell him sooner or later.
But for his story to end on this kind of a cliffhanger, one week after his birth? I never expected this. I suppose there’s probably a lesson to all this about getting irrationally attached to animals, but I think that lesson is about 33 years too late to arrive at my doorstep. The love is worth the inevitable pain. I still think animals offer a kind of unconditional love – well, of course, not completely unconditional, but a kind of mini-meritocracy based on kindness and the fulfillment of basic needs – that it’s simply impossible to find in other human beings, aside from, possibly, infants. But the flip-side of that is that, in the space of 30 days, we’ve lost Chloe and we may have lost Boss. We gained Olivia, and we’re already irrationally attached to her (even the other animals are – Othello and Xena love the kitten, and we do too). We’ve gained a bumper crop of other baby horses (though those belong to my in-laws; Hannah was the only horse of ours who was pregnant this year, and only two out of our four mares can still be bred at this point). I’m tired, I hurt from long nights and hours spent in horse stalls or sleeping in the car next to the barn, and I’m trying not to think about the thousands of dollars in vet bills we’ve probably just accumulated. Let alone the crap going on at work. But my heart’s also broken into lots of little pieces. I feel like I’ve failed two of my furry friends. I know one has only been around for a week, but I spent enough time that I could tell what kind of a horse he’d be, with his spunky spirit and his eagerness to please. I hope and pray that he still gets a chance to be that horse, even if he can’t be him around us.
Until then, I think Olivia has the right idea: