Soldier, Gathered in our Heart…
Little did we know, on the first night we met Soldier, that the inky darkness of the sky above was to be foreboding of her fate. She, patiently waiting roadside with the humans who had come to her rescue after the vehicle collision that had rendered her immobile.
For although her heart was racing a zillion miles an hour, alas her legs could not. The welcoming committee we found were so jubilant we felt they considered us gods. Oh, if only we were. Although as things began to pan out, we were soon to play that role.
Found by the side of a recreation reserve from where her name came, Soldier’s beauty, both inner and outer, and gentle nature, were untainted by her circumstance. Our love for her was immediate, as too was our intensive care.
And beyond gentle we were as we lifted her broken body into the van that was to carry her and all of our hopes to sanctuary. And whilst the sight of her dislocated cannon bone rupturing through the skin of her right hind fetlock raised a flag, we knew that from such injuries her stoic kind can recover.
But it was the anatomically incorrect lump on her other hip and that slight crunching sound we thought we heard, and could not dismiss, that caused our hearts to race. All of which were brought to an abrupt halt as x-rays confirmed our gravest fears: multiple fractures – shattering would be a better word – to Soldier’s pelvis, femur and sacroiliac joint.
Dearest Soldier, if only your aged body could have been as strong as your spirit.
And as our hearts were set to weep, we showed her none of this as we set down a bowl of sweet chaffy blend, which she tucked ferociously into as we offered her the second human kindness she would ever know.
How heart-breaking it was, that it too would be her last.
With dear Soldier now having gained her wings, and although our time with her was short, it was long enough for us to cherish her being and realise, yet again, that when we stand in the service of others, we too gain wings, albeit on this earthy plane.
For it is from here we can soar.
Soaring to the highest of our limits understanding we have just one chance in how we treat others, for we can show, and shower them with our kindness, or we can deliver the barbs of our indifference.
And now we sit with a grief that has cut us deep. It hurts, it hurts us badly. But we shall give it this time, for we must, and know we shall move forward with it as we carry and honour Soldier’s memory.
Reflecting on the time we spent with her, contemplating her fate, we could not escape the feeling that comes when you spend your time, whole-heartedly and authentically in the presence of an animal, how powerless one is not to recognise that there is something inside of them, just as there exists inside all of us, that is far, far more important than what is one the outside.
And in Soldier’s case that was a unique individual who deserved none of what life had afforded her, until kindness found her.
It has always mattered, only now our society is beginning to wake up to this reality. It is for this reason we share Soldier’s story; however painful it may be for one to read. We write to share that little piece of her, she has left on that big piece of us.
We write this in hope and in inspiration.
Just as humanity gave us hope that evening when humans, for the first time saw Soldier, not as a commodity, but a casualty of a system who deserved so much more.
And in inspiration.
For Soldier inspires us to do just that, to soldier on, making the world a kinder place at every opportunity. Knowing that in life we can lose so much. But never love.
That we could never gather you in our arms, dear Soldier, tell you how much we loved you, kiss that beautiful black head of yours, tell you how much we cared, and how we were set to do everything in our power to put your broken body together, shall pain us forever. But you will always be gathered in our heart.
With his glistening red comb flopped outrageously over his eyes and his body ensconced by the most silky soft of feather boas, made of the real deal, Earl’s haute couture may not look out of step on the catwalk of Fashion Week or even the cover of Vogue.
Whilst it is hard to define, it is easy to feel, just what makes Special special. For it takes but a moment with this happy-go-lucky little chap to intuit this.
With no need for a Coco Chanel creation or Gucci accessory, our Paris and Nicky Hilton are glamourous girls.
Having difficultly seeing his new world around him, at first Peaky Blinders would scoot away at the mere hint of our presence. But now not so.
Within metres of the road the tiny bird fluttered and flipped. At first thought to be a grey pigeon clipped by a fast-moving car.
As farmed animals, in the scheme of things, it never ends well for them. And every action thus far afforded this mother and child had fuelled their point of view.
There is little doubt Brunswick is a beautiful bird. His magnificent plumage captures the eye, whilst the brilliant radiance of his comb and wattles sets the heart a-flutter.
Around 4.40 pm on the 11th of January 2023, hope met the reality of our promise, as the last Silkie rooster was removed from the tiny wire prison that had been his home for heaven knows how long.
Just over a week on from that fateful day when the plight of hundreds upon hundreds of sweet Silkie chickens came under our radar. And so too our kindness.