I received the following story from a friend who is a veterinarian for large animals:
"Toward the end of a long day of working in the rain, I pulled up to the old wooden farmhouse. An elderly man came out, pointed toward the barn, and said, 'Just put 'er down, Doc. Can't bring myself to do it.'
"I nodded and walked to the barn, hunching my shoulders against the rain and biting wind. Rounding the first corner, I saw the rear end of a bay horse. Slipping through the mud, I realized that the mare had stepped into a pool of water and become stuck in the muddy bottom. One nostril of the beast was under water and blowing bubbles, and the water was rising in the rain. After I waded into the freezing water and lifted her head, she took several big breaths, rested, and attempted to get up, but she was facing downhill and too exhausted for the effort to be fruitful.
"I dropped her head back in the water and raced to bring the truck. Tying one end of a rope to the truck, I jumped into the cold water and tied the other end to the horse's rear foot. She struggled, and I fell completely into the water with a desperate realization that I had little time left. As she slipped further into the deepening pool, all I could see of her head was one quivering ear.
"Wet, cold, crying, and cursing, I lifted her tired head again. Blinking her eyes to clear the mud, she heaved great gasps of cold air. The rain continued to fall, drumming on the tin roof of the barn and drowning out my useless cries for help. The smell of her wet head filled my nose as my boots sank further into the slime beneath us. I told her I had to leave again, allowed her another big breath, and released my grip, watching the bubbles rise as her head disappeared into the mud.
"Throwing myself through the open door of the truck, I put it in reverse. It was discouraging to hear all four tires screaming in vain as they searched for a grip on something other than barnyard soup, and I saw in the mirror that no more bubbles were rising above the mare's head. The spinning tires covered me with even more mud while I worked the steering back and forth. Suddenly the front end caught on something solid, and the truck, rope and horse lurched forward.
"She lay still on the ground, and with all my weight I came down on her chest, trying to revive her. After jumping on her twice more, she gurgled and began to struggle. Seconds later, she jumped straight to her feet and trotted off down the lane, whinnying a song I remember to this day. I sat in the mud, shaking from cold and adrenaline.
"I sloshed my way back to the truck and drove to the old house. The elderly man appeared, hands shaking and tears running down his face. Mud falling from my cheeks, I explained that the horse lived, but she wasn't in the mood for further examination. More tears flowed as he stepped onto the porch and searched until he spotted the trotting horse.
"As I turned back toward the truck, I asked, 'What's her name?'
"'Glory,' he said, and walked through the mud and falling rain as he called to her."
All around us, people are buried in mud, with one nostril desperately sucking air into their distressed souls. It can be difficult, messy work, but offering a hand out of the muck can also be very rewarding.
Learn how to truly love others and give them what they need.