MY VET MATTERS CONTEST WINNING ENTRY FOR APRIL 2004
Veterinarian: Christi Garfinkel, DVM, of Large Animal Veterinary Associates in El Cajon, Calif.
Nominated by: Kimberlee Quarles of Jamul, Calif.
Misty was my daughter’s 30+-year-old pony. She had battled a host of medical problems during the past year. She worsened recently and was resigned to laying in the shade, only standing to eat her meals. It was fall and I knew the rains would come soon and add to Misty’s misery. I knew I had to make the ultimate decision and end Misty’s suffering.
I called Dr. Christi Garfinkel to let her know that Misty was sick once again and that I thought it may be time. When Dr. Garfinkel arrived she examined Misty and offered me tests and possible treatment options. I explained that I felt it was time to let Misty go, my confidence in my decision quickly waning. Dr. Garfinkel nodded sadly and reassured me that she agreed with my decision but that it was her job to inform me of every possible alternative.
I asked Dr. Garfinkel if she would wait while I called to arrange the truck since I did not want Misty’s body to lie exposed in the yard. Even though this would probably make her late to her next scheduled appointment she agreed. By the time I reached the house, I was crying. My eight-year-old daughter, Kiana, knew it was time to say good-bye to her beloved friend. When I returned outside Dr. Garfinkel was explaining to Kiana what the procedure was and what to expect. She asked Kiana if she would like a braid of Misty’s tail to which Kiana replied sadly “yeah sure.” Dr. Garfinkel gently brushed Misty’s tail. She taped off the ends of the braids and handed it to Kiana, apologizing for not having pretty ribbons to tie on the special braid.
As we walked Misty out and away from the other horses, Dr. Garfinkel asked Kiana if she was going to stay or go inside the house. Kiana didnt answer. Being only eight, she did not know what to do. Kiana made no move to leave. She only stared at Misty. Dr. Garfinkel went to Kiana and told her that she was going to begin. Kiana was welcome to stay and watch but if at any time she wanted to leave or turn her back that was okay. Misty already knew how much Kiana loved her. Dr. Garfinkel promised she would stay with Misty until the end.
Dr. Garfinkel returned to Misty to administer the merciful injection, which would end her suffering once and for all. Misty went down with grace and class, not wanting to further upset her little friend. Dr. Garfinkel knelt down with tears on her cheeks, gently stroking Misty’s head and face. She spoke to Misty in a smooth, comforting tone.
After what seemed an eternity, Dr. Garfinkel checked to see if Misty was gone. She slowly and gently removed Misty’s halter and covered her body with a tarp. She walked to Kiana who was sobbing and handed her the halter. She hugged her and told her that Misty was at peace now. She explained to the young girl that she has a box for all the souls of the good horses she releases from pain. She explained that as Misty was leaving, she prayed for Misty’s soul to go into her box of Angel horses. Misty was now an Angel Horse running free and feeling no pain. She told Kiana that Misty was happy and would watch over her forever. Kiana looked up with a sad, tear-streaked face and whispered, “Thank you for making Misty an Angel”.
As I watched the two I realized that there are not only Angel Horses in Dr. Garfinkel’s box but there is also an Angel here on earth, easing the pain and suffering of horses and the humans they leave behind.