I was with Jen today when she turned into someone else. Of course, a horse made her do it.
Jen's always wanted to be an equine veterinarian and, since she's a science goddess, Dr. Scott, the vet, lets her be his unofficial intern. Mostly she observes, but sometimes she's his assistant, too.
Jen is my best friend and she loves me like a sister, but she also thinks that I'm a softie and she's not. So, she was surprised that I said "yes" , I'd go with her and Dr. Scott to evaluate some abused animals that had been seized by the humane society from an animal hoarder.
"That's what happens to rescuers when they get old," Jen told me, and though she didn't say it mean, I didn't like it. I couldn't help thinking of how Mrs. Allen rescues horses and you couldn't call her a hoarder.
Was Jen trying to put armor over her feelings for what was coming up?
I think so, because it was really awful, watching Dr. Scott triage 23 dogs and cats. Triage meant dividing them into three groups: ones that could definitely be saved, those who could possibly be saved, and those who had to be euthanized right away out of humanity.
It turned out not all of the confiscated animals were dogs and cats.
There was one horse. Starved and dirty, the color of moldy hay, she stood in a little corral next to the humane society office and pretended not to notice us. It wasn't hard to believe that she'd been betrayed by humans every time she trusted them.
"Her eyes are already dead," Jen blurted. Then she put her hand over her mouth and pushed her glasses up her nose hard.
Dr. Scott had a tough time classifying the horse, and that hurt all of us. The horse was in terrible condition, hovering someplace between possibly save-able and put-her-out-of-her-misery.
The little mare didn't want to have her ears or mouth examined, her legs felt, her temperature or pulse taken, but she didn't pull away. She trembled.
"She might make it physically," Dr. Scott said, "What do you think, Jen?"
"I'll take her."
"What?" Dr. Scott and I were both so surprised, I don't know which one of us got the word out first.
Jen believes Quarter Horses are superior to every equine on the planet. Her family has raised Fire and Ice palominos for a long time, and though the Kenworthys are short on money, they're rich in horses.
This mare's conformation - well, there's no nice way to say it. Her body resembled a pygmy giraffe more than a Quarter Horse. Even if she ate warm mash and oats for a month, she wasn't likely to be a beauty.
"Why's that such a surprise?" Jen asked. "I've always wanted to bring a horse along from the ground up."
"You'd for sure be doing that," the vet said, shaking his head.
In ten minutes, Jen was in the humane society office calling home. In twenty minutes, she'd filled out paperwork and given the mare a name. In thirty minutes, a humane society staffer had offered to drive the sad-looking horse with the grand name Nevada Gold to her new home.
"I'll load her," Jen said, and though she acted real matter-of-fact, not like she'd fallen in love with Nevada Gold, I was pretty nearby. " Live like you mean it," she whispered, "I'm not a rescuer. I'm not that type of person."
Except, she is. And I am, and for sure Brynna and Jake and even my dad are rescuers, too. And there's something I can't stop thinking about.
What's the difference between a rescuer and a bystander? I don't know and I'm not sure how to figure it out. Oh well, it will give me something to think about while I fall asleep tonight.