Our Animals(pictures below of those still alive here)
We have done rescue work with horses. Most have been geriatric cases who are either abandon or neglected and come in quite underweight. Older full-size horses will lose their back teeth bit by bit, making it impossible for them to chew hay enough to swallow it. So they will chew it up into a ball and then let it drop on the ground, and try for another mouthful. No matter how much hay their owners give them, it is impossible for them to eat it, so they can gradually starve to death. When we get them we put them on soaked beet pulp pellets, a special senior horse feed, and ground up alfalfa mixed with molasses (alf-mo). We have to be very careful to adjust the feed and make sure they only gain weight slowly or they could founder or have other problems.
However we have had other horses, too.
Missywas one of our first and our only registered horse. She arrived the autumn of 2005. She was a gorgeous paint quarter horse who had been ridden into the ground. She was in her early 20's and her arthritis was so bad that we only kept her about six months. At the point when she hurt too much to come in from the pasture for food, we made the horrid decision to put her down. She was a sweetie.
Cameo was our second horse, a starving Morgan, arriving the autumn of 2005 shortly after Missy came. The vet didn't think she would live out the week -- she was about 300 pounds underweight due to missing back teeth and the inability to chew hay. She lived, and was the most affectionate horse we ever had. She stopped going to the bathroom and eating January of 2011. We figured it must have been cancer. We had to put Cami down Thursday evening, January 28, 2011. We'll always miss her, but it would have been not very loving to ask her to keep going.
Snow Angel arrived early in 2006 (without even a name. The girls who lived next door to us named her). She was a gray who had been a polo pony and had broken her hip. She limped but did quite well for awhile, despite a very uppity personality! Of course, when you looked at her, you realized there was probably a very good reason she didn't trust people. She was with us for a little over a year when she died of cancer.
Teddy and Papa, our two minis, also came the winter of 2006. Our stalls were full (a three stall barn can only hold three horses!), so with our neighbor's permission, we expanded into his barn for a bit. However, we had to put Missy down soon after, so that left a stall for the minis to share. A year or so later we had a handyman build a couple of extra 'stalls' in the barn. One, for Teddy, is a dismantled half-bath, and the other, for Papa, is a sort of sandbox with sides arrangement in the corner of the barn. Both the right size for minis! Papa is well over 40 now and tremendously affectionate. Teddy is a dwarf mini. Her father was also her grandfather, so she is malformed and almost blind. But her personality is "I want what I want when I want it!" She has NO fear of anything.
Papa, with his winter coat
Teddy, a summer ago
Star was only 16 when she came. But her front left knee had been badly injured and not cared for so that tendons were snapping across calcium spurs every time she walked. She was in a lot of pain. We held on to her for a year, trying everything we could to make her life better, but when she was in enough constant pain to be biting at the other horses, we knew it was better for her to go.
Lacy came the summer of 2008. We were furious when we saw her (although we spoke nicely to the people who brought her...). She had four fused vertebrae in her back from being under saddle too much, and probably the wrong kind of saddle for her. She had gravel imbedded in her skin, probably from only having gravel to lie down on. She was also about 130 pounds underweight. We slowly brought her up to weight and she gradually began being more trusting. We were just starting to enjoy her by Christmas when, just before the year ended, she had a series of seizures and could no longer stand. Our dear Dr. Heidi came that evening, and, with everyone in tears, we put her down.
Cookie was the mare our vet asked us to take! She was in her twenties, deaf, and her eyesight was questionable. When she came she could not trot or gallop as she had some massive scar tissue on her left rear leg -- we think from a tangle with barbed wire. We wrapped her leg with lanolin giving it air about 12 hours in every 48 and gradually the scar tissue softened and a lot of it sloughed off. She began to trot and gallop again. She mostly lived in our neighbor's back field as the other horses would lunge at her and bite her. The autumn of 2009 the neighbor sold his property and the new people refused to let her graze their area or stay there at all. We had to confine her to a much smaller area, and she was clearly and obviously depressed. We had to put her down in December of 2009. Her knees were no longer locking when she tried to sleep and she would stumble and wake up again. She was totally exhausted.
Vern came in January of 2008. He was a quarter/Arab cross and gorgeous. About 30 or so, he had a tumor on his neck but was in no discomfort. He had been left out in pasture so the woman's goats could have the barn. So he was not only about 70 pounds underweight from missing back teeth, but had a fungus called 'rain rot' across a good part of his back. We had to put him down in April of 2010 when this originally sweet and affectionate old man starting lunging at me with teeth bared out in the field. We knew then the cancer had hit his brain.
Molly is a very big Appaloosa, and probably a Thoroughbred mix. She arrived the autumn of 2010 with about a thousand ticks on her and well over a hundred pounds underweight. She is in her mid-twenties and as she began looking ever so much better, we thought perhaps she would be a good riding horse for someone. But when we checked her under a saddle and with a bit, two things became apparent. At some point her lower jaw was damaged so that the chin strap on the bit was very painful. She was also 'short stepping,' meaning there was some damage at some time to her front legs or shoulders. So she will stay here. January 2012: she has become extremely trusting and affectionate...and bossy. If we don't get her hay out to her when she thinks it's time, anyone in her stall will get a very determined nose shove toward the door, "Go get my food! Why are you hanging around in here?"
Princess is our newest addition. She arrived the summer of 2011. She is an Arabian mare, about 29 or 30 years old, badly sway-backed, and a significant amount of melanoma. Horses can live for some time with melanoma -- very different from humans. She is on soft food for the lack of enough teeth, but we do give her a little hay so she can feel more like a horse and 'graze' a bit. She can only quid it, though, which means chewing it a bit and then letting it drool back out. As I write this, in December, we are noticing that her stools are becoming more soft and less formed, so we are thinking the melanoma is starting to travel into her lower intenstine from her rear end. We have also seen the tumors under her lower eyelids. She may not make it through the winter, but at least she has shelter, love and grooming and care now which she did not have before. She did go through a bout of something called Pigeon Fever shortly after arriving here, but is fine now. January, 2012: she is doing better and better, which is a surprise. Her winter coat grew in as long as Papa's, so grooming her now leaves and entire layer of white hair on the stall floor in the mornings as she is starting to shed early. She did not let anyone touch her face at first, but has become much more trusting of that now.
Aside from the horses, we have two goats -- Nubian wethers and half brothers. They arrived the autumn of 2009, just a few months old. They are healthy two-year olds now and cheerfully eat so many of the plant trimmings we don't have the space to compost. They are fun, affectionate, and quite vocal at mealtimes!
That's Jethro on the left and Joey on the right.
May 19, 2012, when I went out to feed, Joey was staggering. Hoping it was listeria, we gave him an injection of antibiotics. But as the day went on we realized he could not urinate -- and stones are a goat's worst nightmare. Surgery is not always successful, so that evening we put him down. The picture below is of Joey earlier that day when our hen Una was on his back. She is the lone survivor of a sparrow hawk attack on six little barred rock chicks when they were just a couple of weeks old. The hawk got into the barn and killed five of the six chicks. We did not know one had survived until the next morning when I went out to clean the stalls and heard this tiny cheeping. Barry warmed her in his hands and she ended up getting so much people attention that she seems to think she is part people now. We can walk up to her in the pasture and she will let us pick her up and then she will sit contentedly on an arm or shoulder for quite awhile until we put her down. At any rate, here is Una sitting on Joey the last morning of his life.
We also have about a 15 or 16 laying hens and a rooster. One of the hens went broody about a month ago, and the Friday before Mother's Day, we found new fluffy little chicks next to her. Here they are at a week old (they are a little hard to see since they are just about the same color as the straw):
And, finally, our two much-loved dogs, Dusty and Shadow. Dusty's real name is Gold Dust because of his color. He is a four-way mix: German Shepherd, Labrador, Golden Retriever, and Rottweiler. We trained him to be a wheelchair dog and he was doing beautifully at home and in stores and restaurants. But we were unable to give him to a new owner because he gets hopelessly carsick. So he's with us for good and we are really not at all sorry about that. His passion is chasing balls, preferably two at a time. He's seven now.
Shadow is a purebred standard black Poodle who was going to be put down because no one wanted him. We adore him. He is entirely loyal and affectionate (and yes, smart) and NO ONE is ever going to sneak up on us here. Best watch dog in the world!
There's one more dognow. Below is Copper, an Australian Shepherd. He is five months old in this picture and is one sharp cookie. Easy to train, fun, and actually has a sense of teasing.