Friday, May 9, 2008

Molly the Pony and Her New Leg

By Linda Pendleton: This is about about an incredible pony named Molly has been making rounds this week on the Internet. Molly's story is heartwarming and inspirational and for me personally it also has a deeper meaning because I, too, now wear a prosthesis, following my recent below the knee amputation of my left leg December 7, 2007. (At some point in the not too distant future I will be writing/blogging about my own experience).

In less I'm mistaken, this article below is written by Fran Jurga and posted in March on her "Hoofblog." She has the website and resulting Journal on horse care and related subjects.

As I've recently discovered, prosthetics are not at all uncommon for animals. Anchor Orthotics and Prosthetics Company in Sacramento, with an office in Auburn, CA., does work with animals along with us humans. My personal Prosthetist is Anchor's Jon Erdmann at the Auburn office, and he has been great to work with these past few months. Anchor owner and Orthotist Terry McDonald and staff work with the U.C. Davis Veterinary School. So apparently animal Orthotics and Prosthetics are not as unusual as one might think.

But this story of Molly, a "gray speckled pony" is rather amazing. A children's book, MOLLY THE PONY by Pam Kaster, has just been published. I'm sure the heartwarming and touching story of Molly and the people who have surrounded her, the veterinary surgeon, the prosthetist, Molly's regular vet, and the rescue farm owner, will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Molly is now doing what I hope to be doing in the near future and that is inspiring others who may be facing or have faced the loss of a limb. Giving hope, that is what it is all about--and Molly has it right.

Here is the article:

I’ve written plenty of articles over the years about horses who survived amputation surgery. There was Boitron, the California Thoroughbred stallion who could service mares even though he was missing a leg. There were Dr. Ric Redden’s dramatic cases of founder survivors who galloped around his paddock on artificial feet with "transplanted frogs". Dr. Chris Colles had the never-say-die Appaloosa in England with the spring-loaded foot. And who can forget that paint yearling in India? Or the landmine-maimed elephant amputee in Thailand? Longtime Hoofcare and Lameness Journal readers will remember them all.

Now, my friends, meet Molly. She’s a gray-speckled "POA" pony who was abandoned by her owners when 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 badly infected and her vet went to the veterinarians at Louisiana State University (LSU) for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was an equine refugee. No [credit] card dangled from her frayed halter. If you've ever had an animal in need of major surgery, you know what the criteria is.

But after the local veterinarian persisted, LSU surgeon Rustin Moore agreed to meet Molly, and that meeting changed his mind. He saw how the 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 raw, infected limb. When she stood up, 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. The Humane Society of the United States and Lifesavers Inc. (an animal-angel arm of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue in California) provided the funds for the operation. 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, her mane 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. Kaye, the shelter farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers--anywhere she thought that people needed hope after losing so much in the storm. 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.”“She's not back to normal,” Barca concluded. “She's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”

This month, Molly the Pony, a children’s book about the pony who has already inspired thousands of people around New Orleans, has been published. It’s not a book about amputation or prosthetics, it’s a book about people and ponies. But the photos you see here are a few of the great ones from the book.

Maybe Molly won’t make the vet textbooks, but she might reach more people from the pages of this book for children. If you know a child, a library, a hospital, or maybe a therapeutic riding program that can use a lift, here’s a book that can do that. And a lot more.

HOW TO ORDER: This book is an oversized, square "laminated" (so it wipes clean) hard cover book. It will arrive in a large, flat mailer and may not fit in your mailbox.Hoofcare Publishing is proud to offer it for sale to you at the price of $15.95 each plus $6 post. A portion of the sales price will go toward Molly's fund.

Click here for our faxable, mailable, printable order form.To order by mail, send check or money to Hoofcare Books, 19 Harbor Loop, Gloucester MA 01930.To order by phone, call in orders to (USA) 978 281 3222. Please note that it may be a while before your call is returned. Fax is by far the best way to get your order in. You may leave your name, address, phone number and Visa or Mastercard account number and expiry date on the voice mail. Please speak slowly and clearly.To order by fax, transmit orders to (USA) 978 283 8775.

NOTE: FOREIGN ORDERS require $12 per book postage.EMAIL orders to directly or Visa or Mastercard accepted; please supply account number and expiration date. When ordering, please give phone and/or email details.

You will LOVE this book--and Molly!

PS Many, many thanks to all the people who are forwarding the link to this story around the web--and around the world. This has been the most popular story ever posted on this blog, and deservedly so. We have added it to the permanent book offerings on our web site.

Interesting to note: almost everyone who has called was ordering as a gift for a child with some sort of a hurdle to overcome. And no one ordered just one! It is the perfect gift for that...and I am so moved by the stories that callers have told me. Thank you, everyone. This is truly a "grassroots" effort since neither the university nor I has the funds to properly promote Molly and her story. She's an underground classic!

[Photos from Pam Kaster's book, Molly the Pony.]

* * * * * * * * * *

I hope you found this story of Molly as fascinating and as heartwarming as I have. It seems the book would be worth having. ~ Linda

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Stephen Marlowe, Author, Obituary

This obituary of Stephen Marlowe was written by fellow author, and his long time friend, Graham Andrews.

From The London Times Online
April 30, 2008

Stephen Marlowe
Once described as America’s most prolific mystery writer who became known in the 1950s for his series featuring the dour Washington private eye, Chester Drum

Until Fawcett Publications of New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut, brought out the first Gold Medal novel in 1950, paperback companies had usually played safe with tried-and-tested reprints. Gold Medal discovered or developed such seminal American popular fiction authors as John D. MacDonald, Richard S. Prather, and Stephen Marlowe.

Stephen Marlowe was born Milton Lesser in Brooklyn, New York City in 1928. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1949, with a BA in philosophy. He would found the first Writer-in-Residence program there in 1974. An editorial job at the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, 1949-50, was followed by US Army service, 1952-54, finishing as a corporal. He then spent the rest of his life as a full-time writer.

Some eighty science-fiction stories by Milton Lesser appeared between 1951 and 1958. “Do It Yourself” (Science Fiction Quarterly, November 1957) is a worthy example. Its hero, Robert A. McPeek, belongs to an outlawed union of itinerant handymen in post-Third World War America. Lesser wrote three novels for the juvenile market: Earthbound (1952), The Star Seekers (1953), and Stadium Beyond the Stars (1960). Recruit for Andromeda (1959) is his best adult science-fiction novel: “Once mankind gets out to the stars and begins to spread out across the galaxy, he’ll be immortal despite his best — make that worst — efforts to destroy himself,” he write in his Introduction.

After changing his name to Stephen Marlowe, in hommage to Raymond Chandler, he produced a quick succession of mystery novels: Catch the Brass Ring (1954), Turn Left for Murder, and Model for Murder (both 1955). Turn Left for Murder puts a young Second World War veteran firmly and unfairly on the gangland spot.

The Second Longest Night (1955), published by Gold Medal, brought us the globetrotting and very private eye Chester Drum. Nicknamed “Chet” by the favoured few, Drum is an erstwhile FBI agent, only somewhat less dour than Fox Mulder of The X-Files. But he’s usually got a lot to be dour about; not least having a home base in even-then unsavoury Washington, DC. But it forms an unusual background for mystery fiction and much of the action takes place in genuinely exotic Venezuela. It gained critical praise rarely accorded paperback originals, with The New York Times calling it “effectively and restrainedly told”.

Mecca for Murder followed in 1956, in which Chester Drum makes a professional pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Next year saw the publication of Trouble is My Name, Murder is My Dish, Killers Are My Meat. Such Horror is My Hobby-type titles seldom matched the actual contents, but they sure made life easier for bookstore browsers. The marvellously mad Death is My Comrade (1960) doesn’t so much suspend disbelief as hang it out in the wind to dry.

In 1959, Marlowe collaborated with his fellow Gold Medal author Richard S. Prather (obituary, April 20, 2007) on Double in Trouble, which effectively teamed Chester Drum with Prather’s much more happy-go-lucky Hollywood private eye Shell Scott. It was one of the year’s best-selling mystery paperbacks. The last Chester Drum novel, Drum Beat — Marianne, appeared from Gold Medal in 1968. Drum Beat: The Chester Drum Casebook was published in 2003: it contained five short stories and one novel, Drum Beat — Dominique (1965).

Dead Man’s Tale (1961) was one of Marlowe’s most commercially successful novels, even if most of the money went to the by-lined Ellery Queen. The pseudonym Jason Ridgway was used to write four novels about the investigator Brian Guy in a frankly incredible Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! brand-name series, 1960-1966. But he would soon write more substantial thrillers like The Search for Bruno Heidler (1966), The Summit (1970), and The Man with No Shadow (1974). The Valkyrie Encounter (1978) is a radical take on the July Plot to assassinate Hitler.

Marlowe’s personal life had been disrupted in 1962 by divorce from his first wife, the psychologist Leigh Lang, whom he had married in 1950. Two years later, he entered into a second and happily life-long marriage with the Canadian writer-editor Ann Humbert. “I began to wander the world in earnest,” he once said. “Not, come to think of it, unlike Chet Drum.” He would spend most of the next few decades living in Switzerland, France, and Spain.

The Shining (1963) was his first historical novel, concerning the charismatic Athenian general, Alcibiades. Marlowe used the title long before Stephen King. Mary Renault or Rosemary Sutcliff couldn’t have done it better. Ten years later, he wrote the now better-known Colossus: A Novel about Goya and a world gone mad. “As good a novel about an artist as The Moon is Sixpence and The Horse’s Mouth and, in some ways, even better,” according to Stephen Longstreet.

Both these novels can be seen as dry runs for The Memoirs of Christopher Columbus (1987), which was “co-written” with Stephen Marlowe and became an international best-seller. In this book, Marlowe explained, “the name of the game is to determine where facts leave off and fancy begins.” For just one example: “Legend has it — are you ready? — that I, Christóbal Cólon, before sailing west across the Ocean Sea from the southern coast of Spain in 1492 stepped ashore on Claddagh Quay right here in Galway from my flagship Santa Maria to pray in the church of St. Nicholas of Myra for a safe voyage to America. I don’t have to tell you how many things are wrong with that legend!”

Marlowe played the same game in The Death and Life of Miguel de Cervantes (1991), but to ultimately more sombre effect. The title is chronologically exact. It is currently in the process of being filmed. He considered this to be his best novel. The Lighthouse at the End of the World (1995), however, showed his great admiration for Edgar Allan Poe. James (Deliverance) Dickey wrote the following dust-jacket endorsement: “In this extraordinary novel, Stephen Marlowe helps us to see the mysterious figure of Poe more clearly than ever before.” Lighthouse has also been optioned for filming.

The New York Times once called Stephen Marlowe the most prolific mystery writer in America, to which he responded: “Good Lord, I don’t want to be the most prolific anything; I would love to be the best.” His fifty-plus novels were translated into at least twenty foreign-language editions. Marlowe had just finished writing his autobiography (forthcoming from Stark House in 2009) and he had been working on a novel set in contemporary America.

Marlowe received France’s Prix Gutenberg du Livre in 1988 and the Life Achievement Award of the Private Eye Writers of America in 1997.

He is survived by his wife, Ann, and two daughters.

Stephen Marlowe, author, was born on August 7, 1928. He died after a long illness on February 22, 2008, aged 79

Graham Andrews tells me he has written an article on Marlowe and it will appear in the June Issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction.