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Cancer (husbands) is BACK! finally put Good Horse down

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    Cancer (husbands) is BACK! finally put Good Horse down

    I've really missed these forums! Life has been galloping off in other directions, however, but now...I have found this link and here I am.

    I am in VT, with my three sweet old (and middle aged) horses, all with various ailments (cushings, SSC, navicular) and attitudinal mule. My husband is in MT, we do the long distance thing as mom is 83, step dad 87, both with various health issues. This was not ideal but stable.

    But now my husband has been diagnosed with stage three breast (they are guessing) cancer (actually unknown primary). He wants to be treated locally in MT in spite of my (New England, docs in family, over the top worried) wifely concerns about that. His oncologist office must live by the motto, "we never return phone calls" nor do they or the surgeon part with any information (prognosis, alternatives, etc)

    Of course, I want to go be with him. I am making plans to do that.


    My sweet old boy is 25+. He has Cushings. He has some weird digestive thing where he doesn't know or can't respond when he needs to poop. So his anus will open, you see the turds, but nothing happens (and he seems unconcerned). Maybe a few fall out. This goes on for a bit then finally after about ten/twenty minutes he'll leave a pile. Vet thinks this is degenerative. As a result, he gets feed his "chopped hay soup" six times a day, to keep things moving through him. He is doing GREAT! Happy, nickers to see him, trots or lopes out to eat in the morning!

    But there is no way I can find someone to be there six times a day to feed. And on top of that, yes, he does need banamine frequently when he gets "crampy" and he had something a few weeks ago where he suddenly spiked a 102.6 temp--they thought tick borne something--and needed a giant antibiotic push.

    So, while the horse watcher, who can come twice maybe three times, can watch my others, no one can really watch him. And he needs watching.

    I can't even breathe when I think where this is going. I love this horse so much. My confidant, my big gentle giant, one can rectal and tube him without sedation. Trusts me to do anything with him.

    And he loves getting his halter on and going grazing! The idea that I would halter him up, with him all excited and lead him to the hole...I can't...I can't even think about it.

    I do not want him to suffer ever. He had a very rough trip trailering from MT to VT so I can't ask him to do that again. I know he can't do any fewer feedings without problems, already "researched" that. He can't eat regular hay like the others. And he's twenty something (mid to high) with Cushings (which is stable)

    I am delaying going to MT because I am so struggling with this. I wish my husband would come east (we have a terrific cancer center here) not to mention Dana Farber is a few hours a way, but no.

    Of course, when I talk to people about it, they are very sad and scared about my husband (so am I!) and tell me that "he's old, these things happen, do what you gotta do, and whatever. Basically, he's just a horse, so..."

    But my heart is just cracked right open. Certainly I have put many down, and agree that when I am in the "Death zone" - that "not today, maybe tomorrow" phase, i'm in favor of too early is better than too late, but very hard when they look FINE.

    Anyway, coming to a horse page because tired of explaining that he may be "just a horse" but he's everything to me (almost).

    Just sucks. He's having a great day today.
    Last edited by lilitiger2; Feb. 14, 2017, 11:54 AM.

    I would not know what to decide either, no matter what you do there, it is just all around a bad situation.

    There is here a rehab center, where they swim horses and do the kind of care some horses need, even every hour medication, that would fit your horse.

    Are you sure there is no one close you could trust?

    I am sure you realize your horse is one crisis away from that decision needing to be done, even if he is fine now, that may be the in the next hour or a couple years from now, no one knows.

    Whatever you decide, don't second guess, take a deep breath and move on with the rest of your life.

    I am sorry you are in such a complicated situation.


      What a horrible place to be mentally. I'm so so sorry. I could never move Mom away from her doctors either, and my aunt is going the same way. So far DH is healthy though so he will go to her and I will stay with my old man, who is not so badly off.
      I'll say this, that you shouldn't think of "leading him to a hole". Just don't. Even if there's one right around and all that.

      When they look OK and act OK but you know deep down how much work is going into keeping them like that is the hardest call to make. I haven't any excellent advice or solutions but I do wish you an easy way to whatever decision you make. Prayers and jingles for the health of everyone involved.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible


        I am so sorry that you are going through this.

        If it were me, I would put down the horse. Your husband needs you. The horse has had a good life, and you wouldn't forgive yourself if you left him and things went sideways. Spoil him rotten, and let him go.

        Depending on your husband's prognosis you have a lot in front of you to deal with - I wish you both the very best of luck.


          There are farms who specialize in frequent care like your guy needs. Our local vet hospital has one, where patients are sent after they don't need hospitalization anymore but do need things the owners can't do (like medications every 4 hours).

          But solely thinking of your husband, I'd keep trying to convince him to get care from the best cancer specialist you can find. Research and treatments are ever-changing, and you want someone who truly knows what they're doing. If he's somewhere great in MT, then don't bother, but if he's just going to a random local oncologist, then he should come east!!


            Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear this!

            I think I would keep looking for a caregiver for him, if you have two or three times a day covered find someone that can do another couple.

            Ask your vet, pay well, check out your options.

            I might consider bringing him back to MT too...

            I can understand why this is hitting you hard; I know you had that loss already and now this must be just too much. If for any reason I can help let me know!
            Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Stephen R. Covey


              Nothing to offer but jingles for you.


                Oh thank you so much!! Yes, this has been a nightmare in so many ways.

                As for my husband, frustrating there too. Of course I love him but very much disagree with the choices he's making--lousy doc, careless, do as little as possible office, surgeon who can't answer questions--and am struggling with this being his, not my, choice. Of course here in New England, we have a great cancer center here not four miles away. And Dana Farber three hours, and and and and. It's his life and were it mine (but it's not) I'd be giving it everything I had. He has said the most important thing for him is to be at home (in MT) on his couch. So, there it is. No not convenient for me (mom had a stroke, horses here, etc etc) but his cancer, not mine.

                As for the horse, yes. Probably one crisis away from the decision. I guess I would be sparing him that crisis. I would have loved to have sent him somewhere that could watch him, but I have decided at this point that he is bonded with his buddies, he seems happy right here, he knows the routine, so I will not change anything up for him. When he goes, I will make the call and it will be right here (and thank you, I will NOT walk him into the hole!) He trusts me so much...I hope he trusts me on this too. God, I love that horse. Love them all but he's...special.

                Thanks again for the very kind and helpful support.


                  So sorry you are dealing with both of these issues!

                  I would be inclined to euthanize the horse before winter even if I weren't leaving. My thought is that cold weather is often very hard on digestive issues. If he is requiring banamine frequently now, I worry about how that would play out over time. Perhaps ask your vet if his issues would likely lead to slowly declining health or to a major incident (if s/he could hazard a guess).

                  It sounds like you may be gone for some time to be with your husband. If you choose to try to maintain your horse, there is a pretty strong possibility that he could die or need to be euthanized while you are away. Something else to consider.

                  I'm sorry. Your situation sucks out loud. Whatever your decision and outcome know that, regarding your horse, that you have provided care and affection for years and that is what matters.


                    I have no advice to give so I will just send Jingles. Your husband and horse are lucky to have you in their lives.


                      And thank so, so much Cowboy mom! Really, thank you! I would consider taking him with me, but he had a tough trip coming out here in may of 2014. He arrived and needed tubing, rectals, IV run the DAY HE CAME. And out there, all he would have is a nice run in (here he had a nice barn, deep shavings, his buddy right next to him over a low partition so they can talk all night, or whatever. I have called the fantastic people who brought him, and they would take him out for me, but so far, I'm thinking either care here, wait longer to be with husband, or make the call (or have husband beaten over the head-=-gently-and brought back here for treatment)

                      And yes, chemo for five mos, then surgery, then recovery, then radiation. So, about nine mos, i'll be back and forth for sure.

                      Vet is wonderful. She said she would guess either lymphoma or maybe some neural issue (although no neural problems so far). No dribbling urine (yet) but something in there is "broken" and yes, degenerative. This is new as far as I knew (a month or so of this). Not sure if gradual decline or something acute likely. And no idea how long it would be until the ultimate crisis. And agree about winter - less movement, no grass.

                      But still. I hate it.


                        Is this horse YOUR emotional support, while you go through these difficulties? Will it be harder for YOU to manage what is coming, without him?
                        Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.


                          Originally posted by lilitiger2 View Post
                          And thank so, so much Cowboy mom! Really, thank you! I would consider taking him with me, but he had a tough trip coming out here in may of 2014. He arrived and needed tubing, rectals, IV run the DAY HE CAME. And out there, all he would have is a nice run in (here he had a nice barn, deep shavings, his buddy right next to him over a low partition so they can talk all night, or whatever. I have called the fantastic people who brought him, and they would take him out for me, but so far, I'm thinking either care here, wait longer to be with husband, or make the call (or have husband beaten over the head-=-gently-and brought back here for treatment)

                          And yes, chemo for five mos, then surgery, then recovery, then radiation. So, about nine mos, i'll be back and forth for sure.

                          Vet is wonderful. She said she would guess either lymphoma or maybe some neural issue (although no neural problems so far). No dribbling urine (yet) but something in there is "broken" and yes, degenerative. This is new as far as I knew (a month or so of this). Not sure if gradual decline or something acute likely. And no idea how long it would be until the ultimate crisis. And agree about winter - less movement, no grass.

                          But still. I hate it.
                          Don't know if this may help, but here are AARP euthanasia guidelines:


                          Only you know what boxes your horse checks in there.


                            I feel for you. Just such a tough situation.

                            I would strongly encourage you to encourage your husband to come east for treatment (ship his couch out if necessary). The kind of treatment he gets at a really premier facility really could make a huge difference.

                            I wish you the best of luck.
                            "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


                              So sorry about the whole mess. It's just unfair.


                                I don't know about getting DH clear from MT to the East just because the treatments will be easier on him and best.
                                I too would not go in his shoes.

                                I was sent to Dallas for more heart tests, not happy at all to have to fly there.
                                They also could not find anything else the drs here had not already found.
                                No one still today knows what is wrong with my heart.
                                I would not go away again anywhere else, life is going to end up sooner or later.
                                Maybe they can help somewhere else, maybe not, we can keep going places, if that suits us, to find out.
                                If we really don't want to go, why bother?

                                If going East will seriously impact his quality of life, I would not push him to do it just for better treatments.
                                If his drs are not up to snuff, I expect a second opinion right there would not be so hard to have, a better one?


                                  So terrible. So unfair.

                                  I think the main thing is that I think you will worry endlessly about the horse if you leave him behind, and rightly so. I guess I'd be comparing the timelines of both and be thinking.

                                  Your horse is having a good life now. I think the only thing worse than putting him down would be having someone call you while you were in MT saying they think he needs to be put down.

                                  When my old sweet longtime horse died, it was crushing for me. But it was also a release to be freed from the worry and time and stress of nursing her. I was fortunate that she did me the favor of dying on her own the morning I'd scheduled an appointment.

                                  Your husband is probably pretty scared too. Maybe a short trip out there would be beneficial now, to help stabilize his emotions, and maybe he might change his mind to feel that being with you back east is a good place too.

                                  He's thinking he wants to die on his couch in MT, it sounds like, rather than be among strangers in a strange place. Maybe he can find a way to live in VT. Tell him there's plenty of time to die on his couch in MT in another 20 years. :-/

                                  No easy answers here.

                                  Hugs, and best wishes.
                                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                                    You have a tough situation...but as some have said....your horse knows only "today". I would feel much worse thinking he died under emergency circumstances, with you on the other side of the country... than on a sunny day, with no crisis and you to send him over the bridge. It would be the most "fair" descision for him. Men on the other hand are just harder to deal with!!
                                    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                                      Sos sorry you are going through this. Euthanasia is not an easy decision but sometimes that is the kindest thing.

                                      Sorry about your husband. Jingling!


                                        Thinking of you and understanding about the horse. I don't have any helpful advice other than trying to convince your husband to come east for better cancer care. Don't mention the horse to him or he will say the horse means more than he does.

                                        I would not take the horse from his safe environment. It would be kinder to put him down as hard as that may be.

                                        So sorry for your sad situation.