Voice on Fire Blog

Home of Lira the Amazing Pet Therapy Dog

Grandpa

                                                                                                                                                                   

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Lira and I were almost done with hospital rounds.  We walked into the second to the last room and the patient was sitting on the side of his bed. Out his window you could see the trees brightly shining in their fall colors and a beautiful view of Commencement Bay.  This elderly man had a quiet assurance about him and his nose was the oddest shape I had ever seen but I must say it gave him such character.  I sat beside him on the bed and introduced myself. He said my name is so and so but everybody calls me Grandpa. He talked to Lira a bit as she sat beside him.  Lira started to lie down and I asked her to stay sitting but he said let her rest.  Grandpa gently rubbed Lira with his foot and as usual Lira is the conduit to a great story. He said, “Animals had always been a big part of my life. “

When Grandpa was 15 years old he lived on a ranch where is father worked in Oregon.  One of their jobs was breaking wild horses.  There was this one wild stallion that everyone in the area wanted to catch.  Grandpa said he wasn’t a really big stallion at approximately 15 hands but he was a beautiful rich red color with a white mane and tail.  Grandpa was enamored with the stallion and set out to befriend him. He wanted the stallion to be his horse.  He camped out for a week to try and find him.  Yes back in those days parents use to let their 15 year olds camp out for a week on their own. After a few days the stallion found him and watched him from afar.  Eventually the wild stallion came to the campsite and tiptoed slowly behind him and curiously nudged him in the shoulder. Grandpa gently rubbed his nose and the horse started a bit.  Grandpa got up and started to walk away.  The stallion came up behind him and mischievously nosed him in the behind. Here was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

It seems this beautiful friendship got off to a rocky start.  Grandpa took time to gain the animals trust.  After a day or two he was able to get a halter and saddle on him.  Well he decided admittedly too soon that he was going to get on his back.  The stallion promptly bucked him off.  This ticked Grandpa off so back in the day, cowboys tried a little trick of tying the stirrups together.    The idea was that if you kept your feet in the stirrups you couldn’t get bucked off.  Well the stallion wasn’t having it.  He bucked and bucked and bucked and bucked finally getting the young man off of him.  There was a problem.  The stallion was so determined that the young man was injured.  Luckily his father chose that day to go out and check on his son.    Grandpa described his injuries as his insides were all torn up. His stomach and intestines were separated from his cavity wall and he was out of commission for two months.

Grandpa was more determined than ever.  He went back as soon as he could.  He even went back about a month early before he was completely healed.  Kids!!  It sounds like the stallion felt bad because this time he let the young lad ride him and that is what Grandpa named the horse, Lad.  Lad was his horse from this day on.

He took Lad on the cowboy circuit and rode in races.  Lad NEVER EVER lost a race. Grandpa said the horse would not accept second place. On one fateful day Lad was racing and another horse was on his tail.  He gave it his all and then some. Just before the finish line Lad collapsed and slid across. Lad had over exerted himself and died instantly. He was only five years old. Grandpa was heartbroken.

This memory was so fresh in Grandpas mind seventy years later.   As I was sitting alongside Grandpa telling this thought provoking story Lira and I were mesmerized.     

Grandpa told me he got to go home the next day to his wife of 57 years. Thanks Grandpa for your story.