Wednesday, January 21, 2009

They Shoot Horses Don't They - Or Maybe Not

Nikki, the woman who works diligently at Diverse City Press trying to hawk my books to the unsuspecting world, sent me an email with this picture and the following words. Nikki takes time off each year to do horsey things at the Royal Winter Fair and keeps up wit the horsey world. Nikki said that she didn't typically send along these kinds of posts but thought that I would like this one as a 'feel good' story that was making it's way around the horsey email set. She was right, I did. I'm going to present the writing that came along with the pictures and then, I'll see you again at the end ...

Meet Molly.She's a grey speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners after Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana . She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected, and her vet went to LSU for help, but LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind.He saw how the injured pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her.She protected her injured leg.She constantly shifted her weight and didn't overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee, and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

'This was the right horse and the right owner,' Moore insists. Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She's tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble.The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly's story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana .The little pony gained weight, and her mane finally felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports. And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. 'It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse,' she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time doing it.

'It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life, Moore said. She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.'

Barca concluded, 'She's not back to normal, but she's going to be better.To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.'

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. The bottom photo shows the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind.


What intriqued me in this story was the vet's ability to see the horse, not the injury. His ability to notice character, and intellegence and will to live, not the cost of the treatment, the difficulty of the surgery, the 'uselessness of a horse with three legs'. I wonder how this vet comes to have skills that doctors seem often not to. If a person with a disability does not speak, there is often an automatic assumption that the life isn't valuable and that a DNR death is preferrable. Remember paramedics left Barry Baker to die because they could not see his value. This horse was saved by a vet who could see an animal's humanity, while doctors refused food and water to Martin Ryan, a man with Down Syndrome, with the intention to starve him to death obviously saw an animal where a human stood.

Viktor Frankl once said that any doctor who could not see the humanity of their patient was not a doctor but a veterenarian. I'm now wondering if that would be such a bad thing.

Thanks, Nikki, for the story, and You Go Molly!


Belinda said...

Ha! A vet once dressed Mum's injured arm after she fell at a friend's house and split her arm open. Our host, who was the vet, persuaded me to wait until the next day to take her to emergency, and when she was seen, the doctor was so impressed by the dressing and wanted to know who had done it. It was a funny moment explaining that I took my mum to a vet.

The horse is beautiful and the story inspiring.

Gina said...

Vets deal with 'non verbal communication' all the time.
Doctors (and many in society) are used to the 'easy' communication, the verbal. They forget to "listen" to the non-verbal bits.
Our little boy has no verbal communication unless you speak 'gloo-glar' but he can tell you when he is cross, sad, happy, a little bit hungry or a lot hungry without saying a word, with no purposeful movement.
You just have to look at his face to "hear" what he is saying.

Jenn McWhorter said...

I saw a great video about Molly a year or so back on YouTube that you might enjoy:

Brenda said...

Awww...I love Molly! What a great story (and video - thanks Jenn). Molly could, if we let her, teach us so much about being human. Her spirit is inspiring, and her owner and doctors are incredible. If only our 'human' doctors were so dedicated. I know that MY life would be different, and I suspect that's true for many other disabled folks. Thanks, Dave, for starting off my day on such a cheerful and uplifting note. I know I'll be thinking about Molly for the rest of the day. What a sweetie she is!

FridaWrites said...

What a cutie--it broke my heart when I was small to learn that horses who had leg injuries generally got shot. What a lesson this horse will teach people about the value of life with a disability and the value of uniqueness.

Ettina said...

I suspect that's actually more unusual for a vet than a human doctor. Vets deal with nonverbal communication all the time, yes, but they also deal with patients for whom euthanasia is legal and viewed as the standard way of dealing with serious incurable disabilities/illnesses. A story like that is very unusual.

One Sick Mother said...

It is very funny that you should write this today. Just last night, I was researching seizure and Addisons or Cushing's disease, and I got a lot more hits on the animal sites than on the human ones.

I think there are three reassons for this:

1. Unlike doctors, vets don't quickly jump to the assumption that seizure is all in an animal's head and refer it to a shrink.

2. Vets will work across disciplines. They do not look at endocrine function or neurological function in isolation, but they examine the entire creature with all interrelated systems in mind.

3. They look more at symptoms than at statistics.

I'm thinking -in come aspects, veterinarians are often smarter than doctors.

Anonymous said...

Awesome.. just awesome.

little.birdy said...
When I watched the first clip on 5 Minutes for Special Needs, I thought of this blog immediately. It's even appropriate for the Molly post! Yay!

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