I got the call that no horse owner wants to get Tuesday afternoon. Phoenix was down and thrashing. I flew out of work, called my regular vet, and tried to think positive thoughts during the 45min drive between work and where Phoenix lived.
Phoenix lived with my dental vet, PO, but it was her husband who found him down. PO wasn't at home but he called her after calling me. Husband isn't a super horse savvy guy, but he knows enough. He got Phoenix up and walking while waiting for us to get there.
Once I got out to their place, I knew. Phoenix looked absolutely miserable, covered in mud and sweat, shaking, thick green snot in both nostrils, straining hard to poop, and his breathing sounded like a rattle. PO got home just after I got there and while she's a vet, she only does teeth so she didn't have all the supplies to treat him. My regular vet who was on his way said it was fine for her give him banamine so she did. He was so dehydrated that it took her multiple tries to get his vein. We then put a sheet on him, as it had started to rain, and walked him for the next 20mins till my vet showed up.
After examining Phoenix, my vet wasn't optimistic. He did give him more drugs and tubed him and left us with the instructions to watch Phoenix and call him back if things got worse. PO's husband brought folding chairs out and we sat in the run next to Phoenix drinking beer and waiting. Even with a full dose of meds on board, he never stopped straining and the spark never came back to his eyes. I went in to his stall a few times and cuddled and talked to him but he never acknowledged me. Phoenix was always the biggest attention whore in the barn. He would leave food to come over for kisses and scratches, would hang his head on your shoulder while cleaning stalls, and generally loved to be around people. There was absolutely no evidence of that.
After talking with PO and working myself up I finally called the vet back after about an hour. We talked about how Phoenix wasn't a surgical candidate, but that I could take him to the OSU vet school and put him on fluids and see if he got better. Both my vet and I agreed that doing that would most likely only postpone the inevitable, and I didn't want Phoenix in pain any longer, so he came back. Normally my vet is advocates fairly strongly for doing everything possible before putting a horse down, but not that night.
He went down peacefully and I was able to hold his head and thank him for being my best friend for the past 10 years. I was incredibly humbled when PO said that they would bury him in their back pasture, next to two of her horses that have passed. After my vet left PO, her husband, and I went into their party/game room where they have an actual full bar that used to be in a restaurant and drank some more while reminiscing. Phoenix had only lived out there since January, but they loved his as much as if he was their own.
The past few days have been hard and I haven't slept much but I'll be ok. I had a long visit with my BO who had been gone for two weeks the next day and then yesterday some other friends took me out for dinner. I've mostly stopped crying when I think about him, expect for writing this. I'm sure it will hit me at random points, but that's ok. I'm just happy that he's out of pain.