CONNOQUENESSING TWP — A lifelong horse lover got to see her favorite miniature horse one last time Tuesday during her stay at VNA Inpatient Hospice Care.
Donnatello, a brown miniature horse that stands about three feet tall, peered through Cheryl Livengood’s hospice window, neighing and fogging the glass with its snout. Livengood’s two cattle dogs, Bee B and Sid, were also there, standing on their hind legs at the window. Her dogs later went inside to greet her.
Livengood, 64, of Butler died Thursday.
She had kept many horses over the years, up to 46 at one time at a barn in Mount Chestnut. She had showed them and had driven them from a cart.
“She had quite a few champions,” said Mary Livengood, Cheryl’s mother, also of Butler. “Her whole life has been with horses. She’s always had them.”
Photographs of Cheryl Livengood and her horses, Donnie included, were displayed in her hospice room.
In her her final days with terminal cancer, she wished only to see her horses. It had been more than a month since she had seen any of her cherished pets, and Donnatello was her favorite, her mother said.
She had 12 other horses at her Mount Chestnut barn, which were being cared for by friends.
Livengood was introduced to horses while she was a Slippery Rock University student and helping out at the Slippery Rock Veterinary Hospital. A veterinarian there gave Livengood her first horse, and she continued her love for horses ever since.
Allison McElheny, a medical social worker at the hospice, said patients often want to see their pets, but they’ve never had a horse at the facility.
“I think that’s a first,” McElheny said. “Our biggest thing here is maintaining quality of life.”
Livengood was a retired elementary school teacher, having worked at St. Mary of the Assumption and Emily Brittain Elementary School for several years.