We never truly know how much time we’ll have with the ones we love. We give our hearts to our animals, knowing that chances are good that we’ll end up outliving them and having to face saying goodbye. It’s a risk that most animal lovers are willing to take, grief being the price we pay for love.
Most horses that come to SAFE have faced the worst and still survived. Thankfully a lot of them are able to bounce back from the physical effects of abuse and neglect, and go on to live long, healthy lives. Others carry the scars of their neglect, and rely on the size of their hearts to pull them through.
Portland was one of those horses. By the time help came for him, he had already suffered years of neglect and hard living. He was the only horse seized from the infamous Lowell-Larimer Rd neglect case. Proper care put the weight back on his frame and the light back into his eyes, but when he was evaluated by our veterinarian as a possible riding horse, we learned the extent to which this Thoroughbred had been broken by life. His knees and hocks were ravaged with arthritis and nearly all the joints in his lower legs showed severely reduced range of motion. His sacroiliac showed clear signs of injury including a possible fracture to one wing. His legs and body were an unreadable roadmap of scars. Riding was out of the question for this campaigner. 38 starts on the track coupled with years of neglect meant retirement for Portland at the relatively young age of 17.
Portland was adopted about a year ago by someone who wasn’t so concerned about what a horse could do for her, but what she could do for a horse. Amy had already adopted a companion horse from SAFE named Goliath, and when she contacted us to find out more about Portland, we already knew the kind of home she could offer a pasture ornament. But we had to be very honest with Amy about Portland’s physical condition. Presently, he was sound and comfortable, but realistically we knew that his battle-scarred body would fail him in time. He would require an adopter willing to watch him carefully for signs of discomfort, and be brave enough to face saying goodbye if and when he started to fail. Amy was willing to accept that challenge and readily opened her heart and home to him.
We got word yesterday from Amy that Portland was humanely euthanized over the weekend. She told us that his legs could finally no longer carry him, and he was falling down. Her vet confirmed that his arthritis had advanced to the point where it was becoming debilitating, and that Portland was hurting. He was laid to rest in a sunny spot on Amy’s property where he loved to spend time with his two friends, GiGi and Magnum. Portland will be missed terribly, but it is a comfort knowing that he is running free of pain, thanks to Amy who loved him too much to draw out or delay making a choice that was painful for her. We are so grateful that Portland spent his final year living in paradise and knowing he was loved.
Rest in Peace, Rose City Special (1997–2015)
Read more about Portland’s life as a SAFE horse. Click here.