The Call of The Wild



In February of 2005, our old 26 year old Dutch warmblood mare Veronica keeled over dead in her pasture. Apparently she had been running freely, kicking up her heels, and just suddenly, like THAT, it was over.  My 20 year old daughter was home at the time.  She called me at work, quite hysterical.  I was 60 miles away.  She said, crying, “I think Veronica’s dead.”  I said, “What do you mean, you THINK?” She said, “She’s lying down and she’s not moving but her eyes are open and she’s warm.”


I called my equine veterinarian.  I told John Newcomb that he needed to go to my house immediately to “pronounce the horse.”  He was amazed but he did what I asked because he knew my daughter.


Thirty minutes later he called me back.  He said, “Yep, she’s dead alright.  She is indeed dead.”  No sign of a struggle—she just went down.  A fitting end to a beautiful life.


And if that wasn’t bad enough, I got home that evening and was greeted by Izzy, my then 3 year old male deerhound.  It was dark.  He jumped up to kiss me—big wet deerhound kisses.  I felt something warm and wet and slightly sticky on my lips and face. I tasted salt on my lips.   I went inside.  I looked in the mirror and screamed. To my horror, I was covered with blood.


The next morning in daylight, I went out to the pasture to discover the key to the mystery of the night before. Izzy had been chowing down on Veronica’s haunches.  Chomp, chomp, mmmmm, good.  Tasty horse meat fresh off the hoof, grass fed, untouched by chemicals.


I covered Veronica carefully with a tarp until the renderers could get there.  I never told my husband that my dog liked horsemeat. Or that our favorite dog ate his favorite horse.  Somehow I don’t think he would understand. But there’s a lesson to be learned here.  None of us, neither dog nor human, no matter how domesticated, are all that far from that distant call of the wild.  We’ll see if my husband is reading my blog now.


  1. Yep, that’s an interesting revelation. Living on my own, I do find myself wondering what people might find if I died, quietly, in a house full of dogs…. Such a strange story to share on your birthday Miranda!

    1. Lyn, I agree, a strange posting for my birthday. But it was triggered by Kennedy Clark–read below. I have kept this a secret for all these years. Izzy was just doing what he was “programmed” to do. M

      >>>>>>> YOUR DUCK
      IS DEAD
      I’m sorry your duck Waddles is Dead–

      A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary
      surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet
      pulled out
      his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s
      chest. After
      a moment or two, the vet shook his head and
      sadly said, “I’m
      sorry, your duck, Waddles, has
      passed away.”
      distressed woman wailed, “Are you sure?”
      “Yes, I am sure. Your
      duck is dead,” replied the
      “How can you be so
      sure?” she protested. “I mean
      you haven’t done any testing on
      him or anything.
      He might just be in a coma or
      The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left
      room. He returned a few minutes later with a black

      Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement,
      the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the
      examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He
      then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his
      The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out
      of the room. A few minutes later he returned with
      a cat. The cat
      jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from
      head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head,
      meowed softly and
      strolled out of the room. The vet
      looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry,
      but as I said, this is
      most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.” The vet
      turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a
      bill, which he handed to the woman.. The duck’s owner, still in
      shock, took the bill. “$750!”she cried, “$750 just to tell me
      my duck is dead!” The vet shrugged, “I’m sorry. If you had just
      taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with
      the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it’s now $750.”

      K. Clark

      1. Oh I can’t TELL you how OLD that cat scan/lab test joke is!

        EVERYONE sends that to their veterinarian. Sigh. I’ve lost count.

  2. How funny! I assume your dogs ordinarily get along with the horses? But once they are dead, they become food I guess. You will have to let us know if your husband mentions your blog entry to us! I bet Izzy wasn’t hungry for a while with a feast of that magnitude…
    My last Irish Wolfhound died in that exact fashion. She was 8.5 years old at the time, and ran to the fence after a deer on the other side, and keeled over dead at the far corner. By the time I ran over to her, she was gone. Tried to do CPR, but with no success. She was a happy dog and it was a great way to go for her, just a little shocking for us all.

    1. Amy, that’s definitely how I want to go–or in my sleep. Izzy and Veronica were best friends when she was alive–never a problem. He was very good around the horses–never chased them or tormented them in any way. And yes, I will let you know if my husband comments! M

  3. Reminds me of an experience we had in Viet Nam. A well-to-do Vietnamese lady gave us a pair of geese. She explained that they were for our safety and were better watch dogs than any dog. She was right! They would honk (is that the right word?) whenever anyone or anything came near our house. We named them Gertrude and Heathcliff. Well, Gertrude and Heathcliff became very possesive and did not know when to quit. They honked all night! Finally we decided that we had to find them a new home. We asked the lady who had given then to us if she would like to have the loud pair. She accepted. The following Christmas we were invited to their home for their annual Christmas dinner. It was beautiful, and everyone complimented the cooks on the delicious way they had prepared the geese. After consuming several portions of the meat my husband asked the hostess if it happened to be Gertrude and Heathclliff. She bowed her head and answered yes. I burst into tears! So here I am at this fantastic affair crying my heart out.

    By the way, we gave our geese their name from a skit that Red Skelton did about a pair of geese named Gertrude and Heathcliff.

    1. I LOVE THAT STORY!! I would have cried too. I was pretty upset about the chunks taken out of old Veronica–but I never held it against Izzy–as I said, “the call of the wild”. M

      1. I am SO pragmatic. I don’t consider pets to be “family members”. I guess I must be missing some sort of essential gene.

        I heard one of my favorite stories on The Moth again today, about a research scientist who discovered that he had the same brain quirks that are seen in serial killers. When he asked all his relatives and friends they weren’t surprised at all.

        He said that what was most telling was that he didn’t care!

        Which made me stop and think about myself and how I love my dogs but I am NOT bonded to them as though they were my children.

        1. Margaret, I suspect you are not as pragmatic and unbonded as you think you are! But it’s nice to imagine that it’s so. M

          1. well, maybe it was just the first 10 deaths affected me. We can habituate to almost anything, right?

            You should know, given your profession.


          2. Margaret, you’re right about becoming somewhat habituated to death. But still, every so often, there’s one that really really gets to me, and negates my sense of immunity. My last one was described in this blog–I believe I titled it “Only the Good Die Young.” M

  4. It always amazes me that people actually think that animals are “friends”. Dogs eat meat. Any animal that dies, especially a herbivore is just meat to them. Even if they “knew” them before they died. Come on folks, Disney never ever got it right…..

  5. Izzy’s ‘enjoyment’ of his favourite buddy is one of those things that clarifies the difference between us and our dogs. They love so unconditionally but they don’t have that sense of judgement. I remember listening to CBC radio one day and this woman was on talking about death, and that only human beings have a knowledge that death is part of living and we live with death as such a huge part of our life, whereas, dogs & other species live in the moment. That ‘wild’ aspect is something that I work so hard to remember as I try hard not to always ascribe my humanness to our beloved dogs. Of course I fail on a daily basis.
    Secrets…lol; I have a few I have never told my husband. I am sure he will understand. It is the nature of the beast…or in this case the dog. I am sure Veronica didn’t take it personally.

  6. Wow, so many kindred souls (to quote Anne Shirley, of Green Gables fame). I’ve become a huge fan of Robin Hobbs novels where the dragons devour their dead/victims, and therefore honor their lives and memories. That’s how I think of what Izzy did…..

  7. As a long time subscriber to MedPage Today, I recently found and subscribed to Kevin Pho, MD and today I accidently found the Call of the Wild and the Crab Diaries.

    I wish to thank everyone who is in any way connected with the above. My life has been enriched by these posts.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *