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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Many, many thanks