Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Poco, the Brave Little Burro


"They changed my bandage and no matter what they tried I could not seem to walk on my foot. They made the boot walker a little bigger for my healing foot, then they tried using just the splints without the walker and when they tried to get me to stand up on it straight I just couldn’t do it. I heard mom call the doctor and he said he would be out as soon as he could. Mom gave me a massage that felt so good and lots of cookies.

Doc and his friend, another doctor arrived and I got up from my nap to say Hi. I had a lot of trouble getting up and it wasn’t my foot. Doc looked at pictures of my foot mom had and said it looked good, then a video mom took of me walking and said my knee was not working anymore and that is why I could not walk. They knew my other knee was hurting really bad and said it couldn’t hold all my weight. They all seemed to know how much I hurt.

I had medicine before that let me sleep so I wouldn’t hurt while they worked on my foot, changed my bandage, took lots of x-rays all over, and did the diagnostics and treatments I needed. Mom gave me cookies and great big hugs, then they gave me some different medicine.

This time when I woke up it was beautiful, this first day of spring. I saw desert flowers and heard birds sing. Then I saw Warrior, Dreamer and Amy (who had passed before me). They said to me, " Get up little one, let's go play."

I got up and nothing hurt. I looked at my foot and it was perfect. They took off and I said, "wait for me!"  I walked so easy that I started to run and kick up my heels....joy I have never felt before. I bucked, I rolled, I reared up, I ran and did it some more....so happy, I sang my song for all to hear.

Then I saw it, the most beautiful rainbow and heard my mom say, "Run Little One, run. We all love you so much." This place they call heaven is a happy place where I feel so good and know I am so loved. 

Thank you ALL for what you have done for me. When you hear a donkey or burro bray, think of me and know I am in Paradise running pain free. Love, Poco. The Brave Little Burro"    This was posted on our Facebook Page 3-21-20.

Poco in the desert

Many of you may not know Poco's story, a wild burro found in the Havasu Wildlife Refuge and photographed by hiker, Terry Shoblom Watt in 2014. Poco was dragging his right hind foot and it appeared the hoof had grown in a circular manner and was quite long. The BLM was contacted and their Wild Horse and Burro specialist, Chad Benson, captured him and he was given to Journey's End Ranch Animal Sanctuary (JERAS) in Kingman, AZ to live out his days.

poco hoof cut off 2014

Poco went to the local vet, x-rays were taken and it was discovered that his right hind foot had a deformity and the overgrown hoof was removed. Cathy at JERAS was able to care for Poco and his special needs hoof until June of 2020, when, because of her own health, she asked us if he could live out his years here. Poco joined EqWBR on June 20, 2020 along with his companion a mini-donkey we called Teddy.

20210114 cornet band

Poco's foot beginning to heal

In December, 2020 we noticed a change in Poco's stance and the angle of his foot, so wrapped his foot and the vet called. When the vet arrived we found the foot had a very deep infection and the wrapping had finally brought it to the surface. The tendon holding his foot was inflamed from the many years of the stress of him dragging his foot and was no longer able to support the hoof which is why the angle had changed, that caused Poco to put more weight on his left side, changing his stance. With his foot deformity (very small, crushed coffin bone) there was no bone for the hoof and its tissue to attach to and with the inflamed foot the hoof had started to detach so it was surgically removed.

We felt by treating the infection and allowing his hoof to regrow, which we knew would take many, many months, was a very good option for him to make his life easier. X-rays were taken and an aggressive treatment plan was established including new types of treatment to give him the best chance at recovery.

20210212 boot walker side view

With the lack of attachment of the tendon to his foot we created a boot walker out of PVC pipe to cradle his healing foot and support his pastern and fetlock.

Every week we would remove his bandage to see how his foot was healing and to give additional treatment including Silver Honey. Using antibiotics, medical maggots, palette rich plasma (PRP) therapy, anti-inflammatories and other supportive medicines and supplements we could see wonderful healing after only 3 weeks and we were very encouraged about his recovery.

20210219 Boot walker covered

Keeping his foot bandaged and supported was helping so much in his healing. Poco's mood brightened and with the success of the boot walker we felt that with an orthotic to support his pastern that was no longer supported by the tendon, if the foot continued to heal, he could have relief he may not have had his entire life.

20210202 Poco standing on his rt hind

After x-rays of both his stifle's (knees) we found some arthritis and joint issues caused by the stress to his body from his foot deformity. We treated both his stifle joints with injections to help reduce inflammation from arthritis, provide lubrication for the joints and to make him more comfortable.

For the first time since perhaps he was a foal, he was able to stand upright on his right leg and take pressure off his left hind leg that had sustained his hind end weight most of his life.

20210216 Poco with his blanket

We kept Poco blanketed on the cold days and nights, in he barn during bad weather and out in the sun on the warm days where he loved to lay in a sandy spot we made for him and soak up the sun. We gave him daily massages to help stimulate his muscles and ease his tendons and ligaments.

We continued our weekly bandage changes and his hoof started to grow back. We contacted several specialists that make prosthetics and orthotics and started the process of making a long-term orthotic for him.

Carpus brace for Poco lateral

Working from samples made for large dogs we found a boot walker type orthotic that would work great for Poco as his foot continued to heal and his hoof grow out. It would be specialized to support his pastern and room for his hoof to grow which we knew would take several more months. A completely new hoof takes about a year to grow so this would be a great way to help him. We scheduled an appointment the first week of April to make the cast mold for his custom orthotic.

Poco braying 2016-4-30

We were joyful that in the mornings when we would come out to feed Poco would grace us with his bray that everyone referred to as his "song". A sign that he was feeling good and looking forward to his breakfast.

Over this past weekend we changed his bandage and no matter what we tried, he could not seem to stand on his right foot. We noticed his stance was off so we changed the angle of his boot walker and that didn't help, bandaged with splinting instead giving him support in the pastern and a splint to balance and that seemed to help, but his stifle (knee) didn't look as it had and with him not wanting to bear weight we asked the vet to come out as quickly as he could.

The vet arrived and brought another vet with him and what we suspected was confirmed, his right knee was "blown", no longer functioning and his left knee, already stressed from years of carrying his body was struggling to bear his weight too. Clearly Poco was in pain.

Even though his foot was healing, we never want those in our care to be suffering from pain or diminished quality of life so the decision to release him from his pain was made.

20210318 091732

There are so many people who worked so hard to help this sweet guy heal and we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Mark, Dr. Tammy and Dr. Gus, and the many doctors who helped us with our research of orthotics; all of our volunteers who took such wonderful care of Poco, assisting lovingly with all his needs, our medical team of volunteers who did weekly bandage changes (Myself, Lary, Joey, Darin), Kelli from Animal Krackers and Michele one of our farriers; Summit Joint Performance who donated funds and Equine Max joint injections, Absorbine (WF Young Inc) who donated a variety of supplements and Silver Honey which was applied to his healing foot each bandage change (a fabulous healing topical); our board of directors, followers, donors and those who said prayers for his recovery. We also thank Cathy at JERAS for the years she cared for him, we know his passing is as hard for her as it is for us.

As the rescue's health care manager I had more time with Poco than anyone and he stole my heart. I am so blessed for every moment we spent together. I struggle looking out the front door and not seeing him anymore. His blanket, food bucket and everything with his name on it is a reminder of how beautiful and special he was.

Run In Paradise (RIP) you brave little burro. Run like you never have before....kicking up your heals....pain free. We all love and miss you so very much!

20210320 Poco with hearts

Many, many thanks
Christine and everyone at EqWBR