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.]

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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


Ricky said...

It is absolutely wonderful to see a happy ending to an event that usually ends in a horse being put down. We need more compassion for creatures that share the earth with us. "Molly the Pony and Her New Leg" will help teach our children, while they are young, what it is we need to share - Love.
Thank you for your story.
Ricky Kendall

June said...

Nice blog Linda and Nancy. Looking forward to future posts. June