Hospice Patient Was a True Horse Whisperer
January 21, 2009
Hospice patient was a true Horse Whisperer
Contributed by: Colleen Shemesh on 12/16/2008
From the day Warren McCoy adopted Shane, he knew the dog would become a loyal friend. Warren's daughter Joan had arranged the adoption because Shane's owner could no longer keep him. "Now, that's a loyal dog," Warren said as he watched Shane peer longingly out the window as his former owner walked away.
Warren experienced the depth of Shane's loyalty at a family gathering five years ago, when Warren collapsed due to a heart attack. For days afterward, Shane lay on the very spot where Warren had fallen, all day long.
Warren also had two horses, Charlie age 27 and Dakota age 14. No matter what the weather, Warren woke to his alarm at 6:00AM each day to tend to his animals. He never went away overnight because he didn't want to leave them alone. Warren's family was always the top priority, and his animals were a part of that family.
Warren's family believes that he was the original Horse Whisperer. Warren would call the horses in from the pasture with the softest whistle, and they would come running to him to retrieve a horse biscuit hidden in his pocket. Often, Warren and Dakota could be seen walking together, as Dakota rested his head on Warren's shoulder. And of course, Shane was always right at his side.
One day this summer, Warren was caring for his horses when he collapsed, due to a stroke. Fully aware and paralyzed on one side, he lay on the barn floor for three hours. As if to protect him, his loyal animals Shane, Charlie and Dakota stood vigil around him. When an ambulance finally arrived, the animals would not leave Warren's side. The ambulance crew had to lead the reluctant horses aside, and Shane who lay at his feet, would not budge.
Warren was gravely ill. After extensive medical treatment, his family considered hospice care for their father. A family friend recommended Exempla Lutheran Hospice at Collier Hospice Center.
After Warren moved to the Collier Hospice Center, his family did everything they could to surround him with love and comfort in his final days. They knew that somehow he would want to see his beloved animals again. The staff at Collier Hospice Center helped grant this last wish.
Through large double doors, Collier staff were able to roll Warren's bed outside. Waiting there to see him for the last time were Dakota, Charlie and Shane. With family members and staff near, Charlie and Dakota walked directly to Warren's bedside. They drew close to his face and nuzzled him gently. Then Charlie began nudging the bed as though coaxing Warren to get up, and Dakota used his nose to tug at Warren's blankets. He was searching for a horse biscuit! Meanwhile, Shane stood up next to the bed and placed his paw on his Master's hand. Although Warren couldn't speak, he had tears coming from his eyes.
Warren McCoy passed away on Aug. 25, 2008. His family brought Charlie and Dakota to a ranch near Estes Park, where they now live together with six other horses. Warren's daughter Joan has adopted Shane, who she lovingly cares for in honor of her father.
After waiting a time, the family began the difficult process of sorting through Warren's belongings. He was known for having many jean jackets, so they decided to give a jacket to family members as a keepsake. In the pocket of all the jackets they found... horse biscuits.
Colleen Shemesh is the marketing specialist for the Exempla Lutheran Hospice at CollierHospiceCenter .