Our dear Dolly, who is 29 years old (soon to be 30) has been experiencing a decline in her health this year, which has recently turned more serious. Due to the serious nature of her recent diagnoses, the Agape team has come together and unanimously agreed that the kindest thing we can do for her is to humanely euthanize Dolly. If you would like to read more about her condition, you may do so in the section below.
It is never easy when we lose one of our horses but it is much more difficult when it is a horse who has been here for so long and in many ways is irreplaceable. We all know that this is difficult to process, especially for a horse as dearly beloved as Dolly. She is one of those special horses that has served our community faithfully with her many gifts. Dolly has been part of our team for eight years, but it seems like a lifetime. She joined the Agape herd on Oct. 5, 2010, and has been faithfully providing joy and hope to everyone around her ever since. Dolly is a beautiful buckskin mare with dapples that shine in her coat and the most stunning hazel eyes. She is kind and patient and a favorite among participants, volunteers, and staff. That is because she is unflappable in nearly any situation, and so willing to please everyone who works with her. Volunteers have often shared stories about a stressful situation with a rider where any other horse would have been frightened and prone to spooking. But not Dolly. Never Dolly. This steadfast Quarter Horse would always stand stock still, never moving a muscle or flinching, and wait for the situation to pass. It was as if she knew that her calmness in the moment would be the anchor that kept everyone safe.
Words that we often hear describing Dolly are words like, “Calm, patient, strong but gentle, beautiful, and intuitive.” And these traits could not be more true about her. She is full of grace and beauty – power and patience – strength and stability. When someone has experienced pain, fear, or anxiety because of circumstances in life, Dolly has been…
Calm to the chaos
Space and pause for the sadness
Ease to the anxiety
Stability to the unpredictable and unbalanced
So how do you measure the gifts of a horse like Dolly? The greatness of her service and life? It is not easy to quantify but it is easy to feel. We want to take time to celebrate and cherish Dolly for the legacy she is leaving with Agape and we invite you to join us in cherishing her as one of the greatest gifts to Agape and to countless lives. To begin, we welcome you to leave your memories here in the comments section.
Additionally, we will have designated times for you to come visit Dolly, share your memories with her, and give her your love. She will be in her stall, with the back dutch door open so that you may touch her and stroke her. Dolly’s stall will also be decorated and we encourage everyone to leave notes about their favorite memories with Dolly.
- Friday, Oct. 26 from 9:30 am to 11:00 am
- Saturday, Oct. 27 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
- Monday, Oct. 29 from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
- Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
After these times conclude, the team will gather around Dolly and stay with her until the very end, providing her the greatest love and comfort. Something Dolly truly deserved for her service to so many lives over the years. Janssen’s Veterinary Clinic will perform this service with the utmost care and dignity to ensure Dolly passes peacefully. They have supported us in every step of these diagnoses and decision, and continue to do so as we lay her to rest.
Our deepest thanks…
We want to thank you- our families, partners, volunteers, and champions- for making the last 8 years of Dolly’s life one of steadfast service and grace. Thank you for trusting us to care for her so that she could care for you. Thank you for being a part of Agape and allowing her the opportunity to teach you about patience, grace, contentment, peace, and stability. Thank you for being a part of her story – one that is now woven in your story, my story, Agape’s story. I know for me, and for all of us at Agape, the chapters of our story with Dolly are a rare and treasured gift from God that will be written on our hearts forever.
More about Dolly’s Condition…
Making the decision to humanely euthanize an equine team member is never an easy decision. In many cases, this decision is made because of a traumatic event that leaves only one clear resolution. In Dolly’s case, however, it was the sum of many things. At nearly 30 years old she has reached an age when health issues will compound and be difficult to overcome. We have been working together as a team to consider the right time to retire Dolly since spring, and we have reduced her workload and lowered her weight limits this year to ease her in that direction. However, in September, Dolly tripped and fell in classes twice. At that time we pulled her from riding classes and set a vet appointment to evaluate her condition. We expected to learn the arthritis in her legs was progressing. The vet did confirm this, but more concerning was her decreased range of motion in her neck. A horse requires full range of motion in their neck to reach pesky bugs and to communicate with other horses, but most importantly to balance and to feel safe. When a horse has drastically reduced range of motion, such as Dolly has, they are unable to rebalance themselves when they trip, they have difficulty getting up and down, and they experience a chronic, low-grade level of inflammation and discomfort. With this diagnosis, we knew Dolly would need to retire very soon and we were beginning to make plans to this end. However, before we could come together as a team to discuss her retirement options, Dolly experienced another health event. On Monday morning, October 22, Dolly laid down three times in less than an hour. This is unusual behavior for her or for any horse. Additionally, she struggled a great deal to get up. When she laid down the third time she experienced a seizure. We caught this episode on video and shared it with our vet, and they confirmed that it was indeed a seizure. They came out that morning, evaluated her condition, and drew blood to run some tests. They also gave Dolly a dose of Diazepam, a drug that can help animals recover from a seizure episode. Even with this drug in her system she struggled to recover from the seizure, falling down again while the vet was evaluating her.
Witnessing her struggle with the seizure, and piecing that together with her other health struggles, we felt that the kindest, most responsible choice for Dolly would be humane euthanasia. Her arthritis and reduced range of motion in her neck made it difficult and uncomfortable to lay down, get up, and protect herself. Stress and changes to routine can induce more seizures, causing her great harm and putting those around her in jeopardy. When we considered all of this we each realized that the best way we could honor Dolly was to surround her with our love in a familiar environment and lay her to rest here in her home.