Dug, fostering, Gala, oph

Fact: Horses Kick Dogs

This is the post I always dreaded.

The first week Gala was with us, I wrote about how she was prone to adventures. Excited to be here and curious about the really large dogs in our pasture, she found many ways to escape our house.

Each time we managed to catch her just in time and then reprogram everyone to lock that door, not let her on the deck, etc. On one of her early escapades, she raced for the barn area and chased the horses around the field, ignoring our pleas to come, only leaving them when she caught a hoof to her side from my elderly mare. I breathed a sigh of relief, hoped she’d learned her lesson and got much better at keeping Gala contained. I wrote: “If she had gone after one of the other horses, I’d be writing a much different post today.”

Well, three months later, here’s that much different post. She escaped again, and no, she didn’t learn a lesson that first time.

This time she chased after my alpha mare, again ignoring our pleas. She trapped Cocoa in the run-in shed and when she lunged at her, Cocoa kicked Gala in the head. I’m still sick at the sound or actually the lack of sound. That was the moment her happy barking and Cocoa’s panicked pounding hoofs fell silent. Gala slunk out of the shed and went right to Ian who was standing on the other side of the fence, white with shock.

Gala’s jaw is broken, but more than that, her spirit is. My vet examined her and took xrays and taped her jaw together. He pumped her with antibiotics and pain meds and we spent the weekend trying to keep her quiet and still and medicated while we wait for OPH to find a surgeon to look at the xrays and make an expensive decision.


Watching her lie sadly on the Frank bed, uncharacteristically still and silent, Nick said, “Every time a dog gets loose and you panic and say, ‘We have to catch her before she gets her head kicked in,’ I thought you were exaggerating. I didn’t really think it would happen.”

In the two and half years that we’ve been fostering, this has always been one of my greatest fears. Horses kick dogs. At least the ones who chase horses. And when faced with snarling teeth, a horse will run. If those teeth close in, a horse will kick. I’ve watched my horses throw warning kicks at neighbor dogs, occasionally making contact. Most dogs learn quickly to stay away.

Not Gala, apparently.

Before she trapped Cocoa in the run-in shed, Cocoa had already run her over twice. Each time, I thought, “Okay, now she knows.”

But no, Gala is a determined and confident girl. Her heart is much bigger than her head.

I’ve spent the last few days wishing I’d just done one thing differently. The door that Gala finally managed to escape through has held her for over three months. This time, her enthusiasm and intense energy managed to hit the latch and the lock at just the right angle to release it.

If only I’d crated her while the kids were outside.

If only it hadn’t been so hot, then Cocoa wouldn’t have been in the paddock.

If only I’d gotten up there faster.

If only she’d gone after the chickens instead.

If only I’d thought to open the big gate to the pasture, maybe Gala wouldn’t have been able to trap Cocoa.

If only she’d come when we called.

If only, if only, if only. I’ve got a thousand of them.

I could make myself nuts reciting them, searching for a logical explanation, some kind of excuse, some reason why this was unavoidable. I desperately want to rewind the tape and get a different outcome. One that doesn’t leave this sweet dog in such agony.

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We’ve watched her confidence leak out these last few days until she is only a shadow of her former self. She walks slowly around the house, occasionally standing frozen for minutes at a time. I don’t know if the pain is overwhelming her or if she’s lost in thought or if the kick to her head also shook up her brain and maybe she’s forgotten where she was going. My poor girl.

The first morning after, she followed me everywhere, a sad brown soul slinking along behind me, bumping me with the plastic cone she wears to keep her from removing the tape-muzzle that’s supporting her jaw. When I needed to attend to Dug, I closed Gala in the kitchen with the baby gate. Healthy Gala would leap over that gate in half a breath, but hurt Gala pawed at it pathetically.

Later, though as I cleaned up the puppy room, I heard a commotion and then Gala appeared. While I was worried about her jaw, I was also heartened to know that she was still in there. Spunky Gala wasn’t completely gone.

I’m guessing it’s this spunky Gala who will make recovering from jaw surgery easier and harder. She won’t give up, she will eat and exercise and hopefully heal quicker than the average dog, but keeping this girl quiet and still while the healing happens will not be easy.

We are feeding Gala watery gruel and she slurps it slowly. Already I can see her losing weight. The morning before her escape I remember watching her on our morning run and thinking how gorgeous she looked – healthy and strong and beautiful. The shaved spots from her heartworm treatment have almost dissappeared. She looked so different from the dog who arrived here three months ago.

My heart feels bruised like Gala’s head. Nick and I are re-considering how we keep doing this. I don’t want to see another dog go through what Gala’s going through. And how can I know it won’t happen again? Even with Gala?

She needs us and is clingy, staying close, only eating when I stand beside her. Even though I’m certain it hurts, she whines and tries to bark when I go out to the barn or gardens and leave her inside. As much as I want to be the one to help this dog heal and find her forever home, I know that it’s not safe for her here anymore. She will need to go somewhere else. Which is cause for more tears. I’m worn out worrying over this dog.

Thank goodness for Dug.


He is thriving – happy and growing and sweet and fun. He makes me smile. He is an easy puppy and gets healthier every day. He’s nearly housebroken and is content to spend time in his puppy pen chewing squeaky toys or to chase me around the yard. Dug is the perfect antidote for my sadness over Gala.

I’ll try to post later in the week after we have a plan for Gala’s recovery. Once we have an idea of the cost for her treatment, I’m going to put together a fundraising page to help OPH pay for her expenses.

If you’d like more regular updates on Gala, Dug, and other fosters past, please join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

If you’d like to know more about my writing (including informaton about my latest novel, Practicing Normal, which came out only 2 weeks ago!), visit my websiste, CaraWrites.com.

For information on adopting, volunteering, fostering, or donating to help Gala, Dug, and lots of other deserving dogs, visit OPHRescue.org.

Thanks for reading.






28 thoughts on “Fact: Horses Kick Dogs”

  1. Heartbroken for you, your family and Gala. Having had horses I understand what you are going through. Prayers, love and healing to all.


  2. Oh Cara! I know how you are and how distraught you must be feeling. Nature seems cruel sometimes and while no one is to blame, I know you feel the brunt of it. Sending you virtual hugs and many prayers for all involved. Let me know if you need anything! ❤️


  3. I have fallen in love with Gala and am heartbroken Cara! I know she’s a foster but maybe this is a sign that you are her forever home since it’s so clear how you love her!


      1. One would think being kicked in the head would make her avoid them, but of course, that would be too easy. Thinking of all of you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It was not your fault, Gala just learned a lesson the hard way and I am sure she will not chase the horses again! She will heal and mend. Please let me know when you have that donation page set up as I will make a donation to the medical cost for Gala. My dog just got super depressed over the collar so maybe this too has contributed to her sadness.


  5. sorry, i just remembered after I sent my first message that my neighbor has a dog that looks a lot like Gala, his name is Jack. In fact every time I see a picture of Gala and read the stories I think of Jack. Jack is very smart and very headstrong. Jack is an only child (dog) and his parents dote on him BIG TIME. Jack even has his own bedroom and Jack goes with them on vacation and they never go on vacation without Jack. Jack’s father takes him up to the park every day at 6:00am to let Jack run. I cannot tell you how many times he chased the skunks up at the park and got sprayed. How many times he went after the guy with the grass blower up at the park and nippped the guy (no injury) which resulted in Jack’s dad bringing the crew donuts. On Jack’s second daily walk, Jack comes to my house. It’s everyday whether I am home or not. He just has to see if I am there before he’ll go home and if I am home, Jack has to come in to look around before he’ll go home and I have to shut the front door before he’ll leave. Jack is Jack and Jack is adorable. I think the skunk sprayed him 4 times before he stopped chasing them. I am not saying it will take 4 kicks from the horse before Gala will stop chasing them because I believe, Gala now understands the connection of her behavior to the negative outcome. Chasing horses = pain! 🙂 She will find the perfect parents just like Jack. She will be a devoted and forever friend and Gala will always be a gal who creates her own story.


    1. I love this story – what wonderful people! It made me smile. Gala is like Jack. I hope she finds her people VERY soon. We’re working on finding her a new foster home. Yesterday as we walked her, she spied the horses and lunged towards them growling and barking (muffled by her muzzle), so sadly it may take four kicks for her to learn. Thanks for telling me about Jack – it gives me hope for Gala! It’s for sure that whoever gets this sweet girl will not lead a boring life!


  6. Thank you for your story. My granddad’s horse kicked my dog yesterday, and luckily he seems to be alright. It was very scary thought! My dog is a rescue, and looks very much like the one in the photos! Any idea what breed Gala is?


  7. Just read this post. Sounds like Gala had quite the ordeal. Do you raise chickens for food? I imagine that the horses are used for recreational riding? I’ve still lots of reading to do regarding your time with Gala, but it sounds like the horses could be both a fun animal for her to chase and also a threat, something to corner and trap? In one sentence, you mentioned her happily barking at them, and in another, how they’d react to a snarling dog (her)? I know you’ve done and you’re doing the best you can with your dogs, be they your own or fosters.


    1. We raise the chickens for eggs only. I think Gala only wanted to chase them, but the horses don’t know that and considered her a threat. She got injured because she trapped one, but she’s already been run down by them in a previous escape. This was a tough day for all of us.


  8. I understand the exhaustion that’s caused from stressing over dogs, I’ve had my fair share. Even though I understand and what’s happened was heartbreaking, I find the ending rather cold. I was hoping for more recovery, not a replacement. I sincerely hope Gala doesn’t see you giving Dug more attention than her. It’s always heartbreaking to see a dog being replaced before they’re even gone. I’ve seen it too many times. The old dog lays sadly their bed, watching and listening to what was once their own, loving another, as they’re unable to do anything about it. Love her until she’s gone.


    1. As it turned out Dug was really great for Dug and vice-versa. He was a frightened, unhealthy puppy and Gala is a nurturer. She was a wonderful nursemaid, laying outside his puppy pen. He kept her spirits up and she kept him from being lonely. Dogs are pack animals and in all the time we had Gala (11 months), she never acted jealous, only happy to welcome the other fosters, most especially puppies.


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