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Now A Mare

May 17th, 2015 means our baby is no longer a baby. She’s a mare. And she is a gorgeous mare! Somehow, despite both our immense fears, we raised this baby, Cass and I. Cass knew a whole lot more than me, from the get go. I was there soley for support. We’d only just met 2 months prior, as she lightly stepped off the trailer in the darkness following her 3,000 mile trek from Canada. That night began the best thing I’ve ever done.

That Preakness morning 7 years ago was my very first lesson in listening to my horse. We thought we had it all figured out. The “mare cam” was beautifully lit and set up in her stall. Cass had an audience that averaged about 100 a night watching her from all corners online. We watched and waited. Waited for the signs the baby was coming. The chat room forged friendships and false alarms. I can still feel the knots in my stomach when I think about the anticipation.

I was terrified. What if something went wrong?! What if I had to get in there and pull that baby?! What if my beautiful Fairy Princess of a horse died?! My vet forbade me from anymore youtube clips of horse births. My Dad kept telling, “She knows what she’s doing.” And no truer words were ever spoken. As I arrived at the barn that 17th of May, after 2 full weeks of intense watching of the pot, I immediately sensed something was different. Cass gave me a knowing look. She demanded breakfast. A crowd began gathering around her stall. I was still (and would be for a while) scared of my Fairy Princess. I asked the much more experienced barn owner to go into her stall and check her. She obliged. Two little hooves were attempting to peek out from underneath Cass’s tail! WhooHoo! Cass was way more concerned about finishing breakfast than the fact another being was trying to get out of her belly.

Now comes the listening to my horse part. She finished eating. She looks deep into my face and says, “get me the Hell outta this stall, lady!” That was not in the plan. The camera was attached to the stall. The audience of 100+ had been diligently waiting for this very moment. I was in a panic. The crowd that had gathered were all speaking at once in excitement. I couldn’t even tell what anyone was saying. Except for Cass. I heard her loud and clear. Sigh. I put her halter and rope on and we took our first solo walk from barn to paddock. I’d been too scared to walk her myself before. Not this time. I had to listen to my horse. She wanted and needed out of there. It was going to be she and I against everyone else. Sorry everyone watching online! You won’t be seeing this birth.

The beautiful thing was how exactly right my Dad was. Cass knew what she was doing. I don’t believe there’s been an easier birth recorded in all of history. Cass walked a few feet away from the paddock gate, gently laid down and within a few short moments, Becca slid right out. I did end up having to “go in there”. The birth was so gentle the sack didn’t break from her nose. I got to do that. Becca’s first breath was taken looking right into my face. Now, because Cass does know exactly what she’s doing, she immediately got up and demanded more food, even before cleaning the baby. It was all good!

Welcome to the world! We've been waiting.

Welcome to the world! We’ve been waiting.

 

Took her a few hours to get the swing of nursing.

Took her a few hours to get the swing of nursing.

Now our baby girl is a 7 year old, magnificent mare. She’s becoming the horse we knew she was meant to be. Becca is forging her own way in the world with the help of all the wonderful ladies of Heart of Dixie Equine Rescue. She’s taken to her training so well she may have a show career in her future. Becca is a mare who demands attention. But, then again, she did start off with a huge crowd. Cass is happy just to BE now. She is my Fairy Princess who happens to have been an excellent mother. I’m honored to have been able to help along the way, though she always knew exactly what she was doing.

Momma Cass sends her baby birthday wishes.

Momma Cass sends her baby birthday wishes.

 

Becca, me & Eva.

Becca, me & Eva.


Becca & Catlin on a field trip.

Becca & Catlin on a field trip.

Off To College

She left in November. Putting our “baby” on the trailer was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Thousands of worries had been swirling in my brain for the weeks prior. We were offered a once in a lifetime opportunity for her, though, and we had to let her go. We had to let her go to be the horse she was born to be. Cass and I had brought her as far as we were able. We did a fine job but she needed and deserved more.

Becca at Heart of Dixie.

Becca at Heart of Dixie.

So Becca is away at college. The fine folks of Heart of Dixie Equine Rescue are seeing to her education. Julie Barnes, (HOD owner) has lovingly cared for Becca’s sire since we all saved him from slaughter in 2009. We are family. Becca was more than ready for the adventure set before her. She hopped on the trailer and never looked back. Cass never even cried for her. It was as it was meant to be. I felt like my guts had been ripped out, though. When you love deeply, you must do what is best and this is best for our girl.

Julie & Marvin, Becca's sire.

Julie & Marvin, Becca’s sire.

She is flourishing in her training. No surprise there. She’s crazy smart. She’s acquired the nickname “Queen B” since she walked onto the farm like she owned the place. No surprise there, either. One thing Becca’s always had is confidence. Julie and I speak often. It is as it was meant to be. We hope to be able to plan a weekend to go visit soon.

This was just 3 weeks into her training!

This was just 3 weeks into her training!

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A year ago, Scottie and I were sitting in foreclosure court. We were terrified. I was determined. It was mesmerizing and heartbreaking all at the same time. People’s lives were broken down into manila folders and haphazardly tossed about on tables by dark suits. There were only 2 other families there even trying to fight to save their homes.

The noise in the room was nearly deafening. I somehow figured out who the opposing attorney was for our case and I grabbed her arm and simply said, “I am here.” That simple statement changed the course of our destiny. We were able to make a deal outside of court and buy us more time. The time we were allotted showed us more humbling love than I could have ever imagined. It took from January until October to really get it all straightened out. Our home and family were saved. We were saved by love. The worst time in our life was also our best. Because of love.

Love is such a powerful thing. It can destroy. It can build up. Love is capable of connecting strangers for life. That is what happened in 2009. We’d already brought Cass and Becca into our lives the year before. Then we found out that Becca’s sire, Marvin (a 19 year old Fjord stallion) was now in jeopardy of going to auction. For a mostly untrained, pasture breeding, beefy boy, that meant one thing – the kill buyer. Several of us jumped into action. We raised the funds needed to buy him but had no where for him to go. That is when Julie Barnes stepped up and forever changed all of us!

… to be continued…
(Facebook.com/HeartofDixieEquineRescue)
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I can’t believe we’re a week away from Halloween already. It may seem so but we haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth! Lots going on. Life moving forward. We did actually make the move to the new barn. Cass and Becca handled it easier than I did, probably. Becca quickly began showing the new barn owners where every single loose board and shaky post was. Tanner, Becca and Cass quickly became a cohesive herd of three.

I’ve taken lots of beautiful pictures. But our computer is ancient and trying to use the new smart phone technology with the struggling computer has been frustrating, to say the least. Almost threw it out the window a few times! We’ve come up with a working compromise – finally! I’ve now got a keyboard I can use with my smart phone. Pretty cool. Planning to get back to blogging about these precious horses. In the meantime…

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We were able to get the Echocardiogram done and Grimmy’s heart is COMPLETELY NORMAL!!! The doctors were shocked. We’re relieved to know the damage oftentimes associated with her disease (Mucopolysaccharidosis – Type VI) has not surfaced.

Dr. Beth giving us the good news!

Dr. Beth giving us the good news!

Now we move forward with the important things this tiny dogs need to do. Important things, such as… reminding me to start every day with kisses.

Wake up kisses.

Wake up kisses.

Important things, such as… alerting the family when it’s time to eat!

Lunchtime!

Lunchtime!

Important things, such as… bone quality control.

Bone noshing!

Bone noshing!

Important things, such as… laying in the sun.

In the sunbeam.

In the sunbeam.

Important things, such as… caring for a best friend when she doesn’t feel good.

Caring for Gertie.

Caring for Gertie.

Important things, such as… being Grimmy. Living. Loving.

Being Grimmy.

Being Grimmy.

This unique, special dog has been part of our family since November. It’s obvious something is wrong with her but our veterinarians were all perplexed. We’d resigned ourselves to simply knowing she was born with deformities. Despite them she is thriving!

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In the past few weeks we’ve found what it is she has. Mucopolysaccharidosis VI (MPS-VI) is extremely rare. It afflicts humans and a few known dog breeds. Most dogs do not survive. They are euthanized early on due to pain. * Grimmy has shown no pain in the 6 months we’ve had her. *

In MPS VI certain large sugars (polysaccharides) of the body are not properly broken down. In MPS VI, the deficient enzyme is arlysulfatase B, which is responsible for degrading dermatin sulfate. MPS VI is autosomal recessively inherited and has been seen in cats, humans, and more recently in dogs (including the Miniature Pinscher).

MPS VI results in skeletal deformaties, including defects to the sternum, vertibrae, and particularly the hip joints.  To various degrees, they may also experience corneal cloudiness and facial dysmorphia.

Diagnosis is done through a blood test done by PennGen.  At this time, there is no effective treatment for this disease.

This is an excellent site for more information: MPS-VI in Miniature Pinschers.

Once we were certain MPS-VI is what Grimmy has our thought was to reach out to the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Let’s have her tested. After a long talk with her wonderful vet, Dr. Beth from The Animal Hospital of Lake Mary it was decided our money would be better spent toward an echocardiogram. Potential heart defects are clearly on the horizon. Dr. Beth has clinically diagnosed her with MPS-VI. Her x-ray speaks volumes. Back in November her blood work indicated organ issues along with severe anemia. Through love and proper nutrition we’ve been able to improve those lab results. Now in May she’s only slightly anemic and her organs are functioning normally! If we knew where she came from (other than being found stray in Sanford) then testing would be essential. Stopping the breeding of dogs who carry this gene is crucial to the well-being of all Miniature Pinschers.

You see the malformed spine, displaced trachea and jumbled sternum.

You see the malformed spine, displaced trachea and jumbled sternum.

Grimmy & Dr. Beth

Grimmy & Dr. Beth

Our original plan when we brought her home was to give her the best quality of life possible. That has not changed with our new information. The fact she has improved is amazing! Now we know about this disease we are taking necessary steps to keep her comfortable for as long as possible. She has a great life! She sleeps in bed under the covers between Scottie and me every night. She loves lounging in the sun. She is a professional bone chewer. Grimmy has an extensive wardrobe. She decided early on she didn’t want special treatment. I tried to keep her safely in a crate when we were gone. She was having none of that. She wanted to be a dog like everyone else. Grimmy somehow knows where every comfy dog bed is, though she cannot see. She chases the cats. She “protects” me from my Blue Heeler when we’re on the bed! She is a hoot. We adore her.

Grimmy in one of her many outfits.

Grimmy in one of her many outfits.

Grimmy has her own Facebook page. We hope to inspire and educate.

Go to: https://www.facebook.com/GrimmyLivingwithMPSVI

 

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