Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When God Laughs

Those of you who have been following along for a while may remember that I originally bought Emma to be a companion for Tessa.  Specifically, I thought a donkey would be a cheap, easy, hardy and safe friend for my injured mare.

What I ended up with was a young jenny who proved to have been bred several months shy of her first birthday.  A lovely, but extremely underage little donkey who showed all the classic signs of imminent foaling for at least three months along with full blown false labor a month before she actually delivered.  Not exactly stress free or easy.

We all survived that very long and protracted ordeal mostly intact.  You may recall that Ramsey lost the very tip of his tail and the tip of one ear to Emma's overzealous mothering once he finally arrived, but hey, what's the tips of a couple of appendages in the grand scheme right?

Four months of relative peace were then followed by a frantic, life or death trip to Cornell, the momentary (thankfully transitory) threat of brain abscesses, surgery and vet bills of such staggering proportions that I haven't yet had the courage to add them all up. All this followed up by another 4 months of extremely intensive, difficult, expensive care.  So much for cheap, easy and hardy.

I'm not complaining mind you.  I love my donkeys and I am very grateful to have them.  I love what they have brought into my life, particularly all of you out there reading this who have also come to love these donkeys.  I am glad to have learned so much about these incredible creatures who I used to dismiss so casually and I remind myself often lately that education is never cheap.  It's just that I have been thinking back to my silly notion of a cheap, easy, hardy companion animal and know that God must be laughing his a** off.

Do you ever wonder what it sounds like when God laughs?  I think I know.  I think it sounds a lot like this....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New & Improved

I got more and better photos of Ramsey's foot this afternoon.  As you can see, the foot is still a bit distorted, but so much closer to being a normal foot.  Most importantly, it is MUCH more functional.

The "hole" in the bottom of his foot turned out to be more of a pocket filled with the remains of the solidified abscess.  I have been worried that there was solidified abscess material stuck in the foot and impeding normal growth.  However, the sole actually grew back underneath this and the farrier was able to trim it away.  

The farrier did about half of this trim and then needed x-rays in order to finish it. 

From the outside, you can see where there is a fair amount of hoof wall separation.  The farrier trimmed the dead, disconnected wall back to where there is healthy growth.  With time and proper trimming, this should grown in.  

For comparison, this is the foot last week...

and today...

A full inch and a half shorter and and almost matching his good foot.

What Ramsey really needs now is to be able to move around freely and normally.  His gait is slightly off, but I do not think it is lameness.  Rather it is because his foot has been so abnormal and unbalanced for so long that normal movement was impossible.  Especially with the necessary, but very cumbersome, muck boot he has been wearing.  His muscles, tendons, ligaments and mind all have to remember how to function properly.

Home again, Home again

After yet another last minute rearrangement in transportation, Ramsey and I have once again made it to Cornell and back.  Ramsey was greeted with the, by now almost normal, fanfare, hugs, scratches, treats and kisses.  Along with many cell phone photos. 

His foot was examined by a whole fleet of vets and students and he had a whole new set of x-rays, which show that his foot is healing very well.  I finally saw some of the x-rays and honestly, they were a bit scary looking.  I hadn't seen the films before and it was kind of a shock to see just how much of the coffin bone was removed.  It looks like something came along and took a great big bite out of it.  However, all signs of infection are gone and the bone appears stable.  The end result is that the farrier was able to trim off a great deal of the excess hoof.   I know these are terrible photos, I will try to get better ones tomorrow, but they do show how much better his foot looks.

The good news is that Ramsey doesn't have to wear a bandage anymore as long as there is no mud.  Which means (God help me!), I am actually hoping for more snow.  Oh my GOD I can't believe I just wrote that!

The not so good news is that the lateral side of Ramsey's hoof wall, where the bone was debrided, is never going to have good connection between the outer hoof wall and the inner laminae (remember that separation I pointed at in my last foot update?).  Because so much of the bone is gone, it is physically impossible.  What this means is that the hoof wall has to be kept trimmed very short in this area in order to minimize any leverage action, which would open the foot up to reinfection.  What that means is that his foot has to be carefully trimmed every three weeks for the rest of his life.  Good thing I've been practicing my farrier skills huh?.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Finally heard back...

from the vet yesterday afternoon.  Looks like we're going to be making our way back to Cornell on Monday for x-rays and foot trimming.  We all agree that the foot needs to be trimmed, but there is no way of knowing just how to trim it without the x-rays so, it is over hill and dale and off to the hospital we go.  Actually, we'd have gone today if I could have lined up some transportation.  I sure wish I had a truck and trailer.  Little Ramsey isn't quite little enough for the back of my car.  I just might have gotten away with it a few months ago, but not now.  I don't have a sunroof - his ears would never fit.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saving Up

"What are you doing Ramsey?"



"What do think Ma, are you going to explain it to him or do I have to?"

"I say we just let him be.  Who knows, maybe he'll save up enough for a miracle and this darned wind will stop.  It can't hurt to try and it's not like there is much else to do when it's 8 degrees and the wind is howling."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Complaint Department

"You know Ma, I have a complaint."

"Oh yeah Emma, what's the problem?" 

"This is my third February and it stinks.  Can't you do something about this?"

"Uhmmm, what did you have in mind?"

"Well I don't know, you could start by getting rid of the nasty snow and make the temperature just a bit higher.  Can't you at least make the wind stop?  Honestly, we really have had quite enough of this.  Just. Make. It. Stop. 
Or hey...I know, you could build us a bigger barn, something we can run around in.  Say....something in the vicinity of, oh let's say 100,000 square feet....something about the size of your average Walmart maybe.  That'd work."

"Jeez Em, you don't ask for much do you.  You donkeys already have the whole barn.  The horses are relegated to the shed.  You know...the shed that was supposed to be for machinery and then was going to be for you, but now has two horses crammed into it instead.  Really Em, you may as well ask me to just get rid of the month of February."

"Ma!! I KNEW you'd come up with something.  That's a great idea!  I haven't been able to think of a single redeeming aspect of February, let's just do away with it!"


"Yeah, sure guys.  I'll get right on that for you...."

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Good & The Scary

I haven't heard back from the vets at Cornell yet.  They are usually very prompt at returning emails and calls, but a friend mentioned that it may be Spring break for the school.  If that is the case, I doubt I'll get anywhere till break is over.

Reddunappy asked if Ramsey had foundered on this foot.  The answer to that is a qualified no.  There was a massive infection in the foot which can be very similar to founder/laminitis.  Also, about 1/4 of his coffin bone was removed during surgery because it was infected.  I really don't know if removing that much bone can cause it to rotate, I suspect it is very possible.  I also don't know how that kind of infection might affect the rest of the internal hoof structures and how they grow in the future.  The effects could be similar to laminits.  I hope to discus all this with the vet some more.

I know it will take at least a year to grow a new hoof.  At this point, I am just trying to keep everything stable and healing so that healthy growth has a chance to occur.  I don't know if this foot will ever be "normal" again.  Sound and functional is what I am looking for.

Ian asked for comparison photos so I took some this afternoon.  You can get an idea of just how goofy this foot looks at the moment.  That cute little foot on the right is a much more normal baby-donkey foot.

I believe that the odd texture of his bad foot was caused by the constant bandaging.  It is a perfect example of how anything that effects the coronet band effects the hoof.  The bandage had a nubby texture, so now the foot has a nubby texture.  That shouldn't hurt anything though.

The normal hoof.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

For the Vet

This post is for the vets and farrier at Cornell, but is also an update on Ramsey's foot.  I have been trying to send them pictures, but keep having technical problems so I am putting them up here where everyone can see them.

The foot is not bearing weight evenly.  When he is standing square, all of his weight is on the back of the heels and the toe does not touch the ground.

He generally moves well and seems sound on it, but occasionally the heel become a pivot point and the whole foot drops down with the toe pointing upwards, stretching the pastern.

It seems like the foot needs to be trimmed back so that it will bear weight and land properly, but there is still a hole in his sole and the sole seems too thin to trim any more. 

There is also some separation at the white line in this one area.


Is this normal hoof development after such surgery?
How/should I trim this?
How long is it likely to take for this hole to close?

I have finally been able to bandage the foot without covering the coronet band or his heel bulbs, which are doing much better without the constant irritation.