In Memoriam of Our Dear Little Piccolo
-A Journey that did not end, but rather started a legacy of LIFE
July 24, 2017
I'd like to take this time to thank each and every one of you for contributing to this little warrior. Without ALL of you amazing friends, I truly could have never done this. So please know this has been a team effort and your generosity and caring hearts have made this happen. Thank YOU!!
Updating the current status and itinerary of our little colt's journey is exciting news, because as most of you know me, I act as fast as I can, especially in a situation that is crucial to the well being and comfort of a rescue. The shipper will arrive at the layup farm in Louisiana sometime tomorrow (they are ahead of schedule) with a projected arrival of Wednesday here in NJ at Mid Atlantic Equine hospital in Ringoes, NJ. He will be shipped in a brand new trailer and will have his own box stall for extra comfort. Updates and pictures will be posted on twitter as the day progresses and look for shipping pictures :)
At this point, I'd like to back track a bit for everyone, so you know how this entire situation occurred. I have been on the phone with the breeder and last owner on record throughout this entire process. Unfortunately neither was in a position to help financially.
Our little colt is a son of Valentino, a Standardbred Champion pacer that earned close to 1 million dollars with spectacular 2 and 3 yr old stakes wins. His Grand Sire is Rock n Roll Hanover another spectacular Champion who went on to be an incredible stallion. Therefore, our little guy is bred very well and oddly spent his short time with his breeder in Tennessee. The breeder claimed that he hardly received any milk from his Mare and sadly, the breeder did not supplement with colostrum. The front tendon contraction causing his foot to ''knuckle over'' was not a birth defect but rather a paddock injury also left untreated. Along with this, of course, is the very large hock which sadly was another issue unattended. This poor little colt had a severe infection in the hock and despite pleas from the breeder's two veterinarians ( I spoke to both) it was left untreated causing the joint to fuse together with severe calcification and basically a lack of a normal joint. There is minimal flexibility in the joint and after our initial surgery, that will need to be attended to with either an arthroscopic surgery or something more invasive. Regardless, we need to go step by step because the down time for the tendon surgery will be long with boot usage and a significant amount of therapy in and out of the hospital.
The breeder was helpful in giving me every bit of info needed but was in and out of the hospital with his wife who was diagnosed with Cancer just 8 months ago.
Anger was not my motive, although please know that it was very difficult talking to a breeder who knowingly did not do right by this little foal and inevitably caused him to suffer and just miss euthanization. It is here where owner number two enters the picture and is given the colt basically to rid ''the headache'' and become a disposable commodity. This gentleman does not have money and is not financially sound to own horses. He felt that he could use him to breed only since his lineage is so golden, and maybe his issues would go ''away'' as he got older. Sadly, we all know that this almost caused him his life. The colt was seen be one veterinarian who I spoke to in depth to for over an hour. He injected the hock with cortisone and sent him home with dexamethasone for the inflammation because the new owner did not have the funds for a 12 day equine hospital stay consisting of IV antibiotics. Later that week, the owner's farrier made him a shoe for the front foot that was supposedly able to straighten his foot out. He offered to send me the shoe. After months went by and money grew less and the colt grew worse, the owner spoke to a friend that said to put him down. The owner said he didn't have the heart to do that, so his friend said he would take him to the auction because slaughter is illegal in the USA and he will get someone to buy him and help him. These are some of the educational lectures bad horse owners need to learn (or does ignorance and a ''blind eye'' allow the conscience to be free?) Regardless, our little warrior was sent to Bastrop kill lot in Louisiana and enter all of us. I had several tell me immediately to euthanize him, but after speaking to countless veterinarians and surgeons for 2 days straight, I feel I made the correct decision. I believe in this little guy and I believe that he will overcome these hardships and he will enjoy life as was intended. Again, I am overwhelmed at the support and generosity. People are amazing and they are out there and those people are YOU ALL!
Stay tuned as the journey begins.
July 29, 2017
Today was a positive day for the most part. I received the call this morning that our little colt , now named ''Piccolo'' (his hospital name thanks to twitter friend, ''Big Ray''), was going to head into surgery at 1 pm.
Dr Janik and his team decided that the sooner he performed the front tendon tenotomy, the sooner our little pal would be able to have a quality of life, build up muscle and regain nourishment. Dr Janik explained that he was still too weak for anesthesia so he would perform the surgery with local numbing agents. It took longer than expected because the team needed to keep him comfortable and relaxed as he remained awake during the surgery. Dr. Janik was amazed at Piccolo's calm behavior and how well he cooperated with the veterinarian staff. He is a very special little colt and I thank everyone again for believing that he truly is such a good boy and so very worth our efforts.
In any case, Dr. Janik cut a bit and at one point of the surgery the team heard a very loud ''POP'' and miraculously the foot snapped back into place! Little Piccolo also was alerted by the POP and looked down at his foot as if he actually ''knew'' that the team performed a miracle. Within an instant Piccolo actually looked back up to Dr Janik as if to say ''Thank you''. He is such an intelligent little guy!
The leg and hoof was then casted and Piccolo was eventually returned to his air conditioned hospital stall , where I was waiting to greet him and give him a hug. Dr Janik met me as well to explain the situation. His foot will need time and in 2 days, he will start to go on very short walks. Most of his body and muscles are atrophied because of the compromised way his little body has been walking. Dr Janik explained to me that this tendon surgery was the first step toward a few other serious issues. His hock has become a joint that is fused together with no flexibility. He will walk stiff legged for the rest of his life and develop arthritis but he does not feel pain there. That will be the last issue he will worry about, because there are several others. The elbow on the same leg where the tendon tenotomy was just performed is very badly infected, with the infection very close to attacking the bone. He has a huge hole in the elbow from sleeping compromised on that side for his whole short life. Tomorrow morning the team will begin the aggressive treatment with several different potent antibiotics administered via IV. They will also put a drain in the open wound and try to flush out all the infected mass. This area has been giving him excruciating pain and had he not shipped as early as we did, we may have lost him down in Louisiana. Dr Janik said it is serious and will be a 24/7 process of constant care. This along with getting his body to move normally with no atrophy are his biggest obstacles. I remain faithful and I pray that everyone reading this says a little prayer for this little ''warrior''.
August 2, 2017
I've finally pulled myself together ''a bit'' to write the final update, which of course is one of the saddest and toughest things I have ever had to write. As you all probably know by now, little Piccolo left us Monday night while I was right by his side. I have never felt such pain and loss in my life- call it dramatic and exaggerated- but I speak truthfully and whole heartedly with everything inside of me. A piece of me left Monday night and I felt so defeated and just so lost. I cried hysterical through the night with little sleep for this tiny little warrior. I was so optimistic that he could pull through, especially since he kept amazing the medical team with huge leaps and bounds. He went through tendon tenotomy like a trooper on Friday and stood and walked for me all day Saturday and Sunday with his head finally up and so proud.
Early Monday morning, the emergency surgeon called to tell me that Piccolo had a very tough night. His coughing became more constant and they could hear a light gurgling sound in his chest validating that pneumonia was present. I reiterated that whatever Piccolo needed, please administer. I reiterated that even if the bill was 200k, I wanted anything and everything done to give him the life he finally deserved. I agreed to an ultrasound of his chest along with stronger IV antibiotics and pain meds to help him relax and heal and any other procedure he needed to keep him comfortable at all times. She said I could come to visit him before 12 noon despite the visiting hours starting at 1:00pm. I jumped in my car and was there at 11:00pm. I walked to his hospital stall and saw him sleeping with his IV and watched him sleep for 20 minutes until I gently called ''Piccolooo''. He immediately lifted his head , looked at me and started eating his hay and his little bowl of mash. With each mouthful, he looked at me as if to say he was okay. I was so excited to see him eating to which the surgeon agreed and allowed me to go inside with the vet team to push him over on his better side. His legs were meticulously wrapped in cotton and vet wrap for comfort and he had his elbow nicely wrapped with bubble wrap so he could relax without pain. He looked so content. I rubbed his eyes and head for 2 hours straight talking to him and calling him ''piccolooooo'' to which he would squint in admiration of his new name that twitter friend, Big Ray had affectionately given to him. He finally had a name and I do , indeed, know that he felt my love and the LOVE of all of YOU - his supporters. Without all of you having faith in me to support HIM, I would have never been able to trailer him up to the best equine facility and surely, I would have never been by his side getting him every treatment and medication his little body needed.
It was now about 4:00pm and it felt as though I was only there 5 or 10 minutes when he layed his head down and started to sleep a little. As he slept I heard him grunting and the vet team came back in along with the surgeon, Dr Doyle. Dr Doyle listened to his chest and could hear his breathing was not as relaxed. His gums started to change to a very pale pink- almost white. He tried to pass manure and couldnt, so the team came in and tubed him and gave him several enemas to which he passed manure but still began to strain. Dr Doyle decided to do another ultrasound of his belly because he seemed uncomfortable and his moaning was getting more constant. I felt his head and it was so cold yet sweaty. I was able to stay in there with him rubbing his eyes as another tech rubbed a moist towel all over his body. I wasn't sure why they even allowed me to stay in there with him and it made me a bit nervous that no one suggested I leave. At this point, Dr Doyle said to hold up his head and lift it to which two of us did so. At this point he looked at me and his eyes began to unfocus. I felt a shiver run through me and silence until a mad rush of screaming , calls and more vet techs ran in. I stepped back lost and in a fog as 10 team members performed CPR for more than 15 minutes with another assistant rushing in with an injection of epinephrine. At one moment I thought they could revive him and in the midst of the commotion I said Please don't leave us, Piccolo...Please! But his eyes 15 minutes earlier said otherwise. I felt so sick and devastated and just burst into tears. The team sobbed with me and the grounds keepers even stopped with their heads down. The World seemed to go silent and my heart was and is shattered to pieces. I began to question myself, God and every decision I ever made until I still got no answers. The cause of his death was a telescoped small intestine known as an ''intussusception'' Apparently he had this for months but he was such a warrior that he lived with it and never uttered a sound until it became too unbearable. I asked the surgeon if it was something they could have operated on when I got him up here, and she said No. Nothing could have been done to reverse that. He dealt with so much in his short life and after blaming myself and questioning , I can only say I guess it was his time. I know God has a better plan for him. He finally walked normal and as you have all comforted me, he had finally felt our love. All I can say is that he is at eternal peace and will forever live in our hearts. I can not express my thanks and gratitude enough from everything in my heart to all of you. You are one in a million and I can not ask for a more beautiful group of friends and angels than each and every one of YOU.
Rest in peace dear Piccolo.
Until we meet again....