Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ground Zero

"Perhaps it's best I don't see it."
"It's only a 20 minute drive, but I am really busy today."
"If I go, maybe I will end up smelling like it, and that will upset Argus."
"Why would I subject myself to that? What would it accomplish?"

These are the excuses that swirled around in my head each time I contemplated making the short drive to Hell: the place where Argus spent his life in prison.

The address is written on a beat-up pad that sits in my car. I look at it every day. "Heck, you don't even need the address," someone told me, "you will know when you drive by which place it is."


It's true, when I drive by, I cannot help but gasp and say "Oh, my God." I am stunned into silence. The mare motel where Argus lived is in plain view. It sits only 50 feet from the road, and about 20 feet from a private driveway. I am not only able to get a close look, I am able to see everything.

It's about 4pm when I arrive, and feeding time has just taken place. The four horses left on the property are each in a 12 x 16 covered paddock. Loaves of bread are scattered everywhere. A bay horse contentedly munches from a pile of iceburg lettuce.

There is a stack of hay, and it's neatly tarped. Sealed, almost.

I can see two bay horses and a gray. I am not sure the color of the fourth horse. They all have long, badly matted manes. One looks very thin, the others are in decent weight. They are all matted and filthy, just like Argus was.

There's fresh shavings in the pens, which surprises me. She knows people are watching now.

It's a beautiful neighborhood dotted with farmhouses and quaint million-dollar horse setups. People obviously care about their horses here. Clean white board fencing, swaying pine trees, emerald green pastures dotted with fuzzy sheep and cozy blanketed quarter horses. It's a happy place to be.

All except Hell. Hell is a filthy place with trash banked against the house's walls. The house is an old farmhouse, and you can tell that once upon a time, it was pretty, and someone loved it. Now, it's rotting at every corner. You try to imagine what the inside must look like, but you can't.

There are rusty pipe panels stacked haphazardly, or zig-zagging in crazy lines around the perimeter of the property. The wooden roof supports of the mare motel are so badly dry rotted, they look like they will collapse in a good strong wind. Metal t-posts stick out of the ground, like dangerous swords poised to sink into a horse's chest. I can't imagine Argus being safely turned out here.

There is pasture, a couple of acres of it. But it is empty.

I hear rustling in the bushes. Nearby, a large black dog slinks up the driveway, heading west, a huge loaf of french bread in his mouth.

Such misery. And all within view of the thousands of cars that travel this country road, every day. How did it go on for so long? How were we so complacent?

I sit in my car for a long time, glaring at the house, imagining that she is watching me through a window. I am not afraid. I am making plans.

I glance around the neighborhood and see what Argus looked at all those years. He had a nice view. The property sits on the slope of a little valley, and to the east, and north, and south are many things to see. I can understand why his ability to stand and study things in the distance is so keenly developed, because he had many things to observe. It's what kept him from losing his mind.

There is something familiar about the neighborhood; it takes me a moment to figure out what. I've been here before, several years ago. Ironically, just a few doors down, there is a house that was the center of an Extreme Home Makeover project for television. The neighborhood was filled with workers, trucks, television trailers, equipment and people. It was busy and exciting. It must have been the highlight of Argus' life, to watch the steady stream of people who filed by his paddock on foot.

The thought of it makes me weep.

Everyone wants to know what is happening with Argus' half sister. She, and the other three horses are still in the hands of their owner. Good people are working hard to get them out of there.

They will not be forgotten.

We are watching you, crazy lady. Your time has come.

Psychiatric Times -- Animal Hoarding


Anonymous said...

You brought tears to my eyes. What a fantastic thing you have done for that horse. There should be more people like you in this world. Best of luck with his continued recovery and the removal of the rest of the horses from 'Hell'. I look forward to reading and keeping up with the rehabilitation!

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know why they have hay on the property, but don't feed it to the horses? It's been mentioned seveal times, yet they only feed bread and lettuece. Is this part of the hording mentality?

Argus' foster mom said...

Please see the link to the Psychiatric Times article at the end of this entry. It explains more about hoarding.

Camilla said...

Im impressed what you have done for Argus!
I think it is the most wonderful thing I have read today!

This blog is now linked as my favorites, 'cause this is something I really want to read more about!

Sound the Bugle Studio said...

Oh my goodness..Bless you for saving Argus.

I have bookmarked your blog, and will put a link in my blog so my readers can read about all the wonderful care you are giving this sweet horse--if that is okay with you?

Argus has stolen my heart. :)

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Bless you, but that does not seem near enough. It took me two days to read through the whole blog to get up to speed. I think this is the hardest thing I have ever read or heard. It breaks my heart to think any horse is still living in that hell hole. They must be liberated! Sadder still to think of what other poor creatures are out there with no one to help them. It is time to open our eyes and all step up. Thank you for all you do!! ((going out to hug my horses now))

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me know you all are working on getting the others out if there. I know you will get them out if you can.

Those poor horses.

Also thanks for the link on hoarding.

Take care and give Argus a pat for me.


coyote said...

I came here from FHOTD - your website made me weep, and made me so angry at people, and full of wonder that you can do what you do and havent gone to jail for assault.

Thank you for giving of yourself the way you do. Argus is a beautiful horse.

paula said...

Why are there still horses there? I don't understand how Argus and the bay got out but not the other ones? Maybe I just missed that info. in the blog? God bless you for what you've done for Argus. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see his prison after all of the time you've spent with him.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful work.
Listen - you need to know the origen of the name Argus. It appears in The Odyssey. Odysses leaves Ithaka, where he is king, to fight in the Trojan War. He leaves behind a much-beloved wife, son and dog.
He does not return for 20 years, and when he does, other men want his place as king. He arrives in disguise and goes to his house. Upon his arrival, an old dog awakens from its meager bed on a dung pile. It greets Odysseus with wild, joyous abandon, then dies. It is Argus, who has remained faithful to his master for 20 long years.
Are you teary yet?

only1fugly4me said...

I've spent my "free time" catching up on all your entries regarding Argus after FUGLY posted about you. When my checkbook allows me, I will forward a bit for his care.
You really should consider having all your journal entries made into a book. You are a great writer.

Anonymous said...

How come you were only able to get Argus and the other gelding out? Why was she able to keep the others? Poor horses :( Props to you.

Fire of the Phoenix said...

You are simply a gem of a human being. The FUGLY blog posted a link to your blog about Argus, and I have just sat and read the whole thing. I wish there could be more rescuers like you, with the sense and sanity and heart to really do what is best for the horse. Alas, I am a college student in Chicago and not close to you, for otherwise I would love to give this horse a permanent home and the undying love you have given him. I will continue to follow this blog, keep posting about Argus and his progress! I hope the perfect home will come for this kind hearted horse! :)

Argus' foster mom said...

Anonymous, your story of Argus in Homer's Odyssey made me cry...

As to the questions about why Argus and Bobby were removed and the other horses weren't...

These Animal Control cases are tricky, and I don't fully understand the ins and outs. But there is a process that must be followed. Citations, warnings, inspections, more citations, warnings, inspections.
Cases either end in seizure (AC goes in and forcibly removes the animal if the animal is deemed in immediate danger) or relinquishment (they talk the owner into giving up the animal). In Argus and Bobby's case, Dr. Miller negotiated a deal. The owner "gave" the horses to her neighbor, who in turn sighed them over to Animal Control.
The four remaining horses were not relinquished. The owner chose to "comply" with AC requirements for their care. They are watching her closely now.
This is far from over!!

Anonymous said...

I came across a link to you blog from FHOTD. I have read all of your entries tonight and can not imagine how someone could do this to a horse. It is a true testament to Argus' spirit that he has maintained his dignity and trust in people. It is also amazing that your animal family has accepted Argus without the squealing and biting and kicking that goes along with normal equine introductions. It is almost like they know Argus has had too much to handle in one lifetime and they respect him for it. Tell Argus that he has a fan club in FL cheering for him (and you!) When you go out in the morning to feed Argus and all of your boys and girls please give all of them kisses on the nose from me. Wish I could send some sunshine for Argus to snooze in!

paula said...

Thank you for explaining the situation with the other horses. I will keep them in my prayers for a speedy release. I sent you a donation, it isn't much but I hope it helps.

Emmi said...

Another one from FOTHD

What a beautiful horse he is! I read the blog with tears in my eyes..
Keep on going bravely!

With all the best wishes,
Emmi P. from Finland

Sarah said...

Argus's story has brought me to tears as has your devotion to his care and rehabilitation. May his life now be nothing but joy and may the ins and outs of the AC case work well for "She" and his other former residents in Hell.

I run a equine rescue in VA and sometimes people never fail to amaze me in the cruelty they inflict unpon the animals which they profess to love.

May the blessings of the animals be with you and Argus.

Sarah/Lost Fantasy Rescue/VA

Kim said...
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Kim said...
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