|A little horse they call 'WindChill'|
February 15, 2008
Thought I'd share a little story that's been in our newspapers and on the television around here for the last few days...
02/13, 1:45pm: We don't know where to start. On Saturday, February 9th we rescued a 9 month old Walkaloosa (Tennessee Walker - Appaloosa cross) at a farm in the area. Frigid conditions mixed with high winds finally overcame the little guy's already weakened condition. Suffering from dehydration, malnourishment, hypothermia and frostbite, we loaded the colt we've been calling Windchill into one of our horse trailers and raced for home. His story was told today in the Duluth News-Tribune:
I'd just like to say I'm not the hero of this story. The true heroes are this little colt and his absolutely amazing will to live against all the odds now stacked against him. They're Kathi Davis, who responded to the call for help so quickly. They're David Stevens who was here without any questions to get him unloaded from the trailer and patiently drying and warming him. They're Karen & Tom Severson who made us hot meals and relieved us from the cold duty of keeping Windchill company. They're people like Stacy who has stayed entire days with him to keep him company. They're families like Aaron, Kris and Brooke who are taking shifts to be with him. They're everybody who have called to ask how they can help and what they can do. They're the Douglas County Sheriff's Department - whose Deputies have stopped out several times to see how he's doing. It's people like Nina Peterson and the Duluth News-Tribune, who rushed out to see the colt for herself and tell his story. They're the people who have been calling the Sheriff, the District Attorney's office, the newspaper and this farm to ask what they can do and ask that justice be done.
For those who have called and asked if they could assist in the costs of taking care of Windchill (which we appreciate more than words can say):
Donations (tax deductible) to assist in Windchill's care can be sent to:
Equine Allies, Inc.,
P O Box 16362
Duluth, MN 55816
When sending a donation, please make a note that this is for Windchill. Thanks to Equine Allies, who have offered their support including asking if we need extra supplies, blankets, heaters and offering advice. Fortunately for Windchill, he has Kathi Davis coordinating everyone involved in his care - for those of us who have never dealt with an animal in such emaciated shape we wouldn't have a clue where to start.
To say that we're humbled by the tremendous outpouring of sympathy, thoughts and prayers would be an understatement. Windchill seems to have touched a lot of people's hearts as much as he's taken all of ours. He's a special little guy - with bright sparkling eyes, if he hears one of us near his stall he's always eager to lift his head and whinny a "hello come see me please." I don't know if there's a way to say "thank you" enough to those that are volunteering to sit with him so that whether he lives (our goal), or he dies - he doesn't face it alone. Thanks to our neighbors for bringing warm food over and taking shifts to relieve us from the cold and get things done around the farm. David, Stacy, Karen & Tom - thank you so much for all you've been doing.
To those that have been calling, emailing and offering support - God bless everyone of you and thank you as well.
02/13, 8:47pm: Windchill's hanging in there. He's tried to stand - we consider that progress. He's decided he really kind of likes all the attention - he calls out whenever he hears a voice in the barn and he love to lay his head in your lap and have you scratch his head as he lays there. He's gotten picky about how he munches on his grain - some of his spunky little spirit coming through. He shows a bit of flexion in his front legs, for the first time since he's been here. Maybe that means there's a chance he could stand? That's our goal right now. If he gathers the strength to stand there's hope.
Lots and lots of people have called offering support, prayers, offers of supplies and offering to donate to help cover costs. We never expected the outpouring of caring. I guess when you get tied up in your day to day responsibilities, you forget how great the human beings you pass by every day really can be. You've been calling the sheriff's office, the District Attorney, the Duluth News-Tribune - asking how you can help and asking that there be justice served. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to care. When Windchill's front legs work again, he can type a thank you as well.
02/14, 5:00am: Kathi swapped out the 'moms' watching over Windchill, letting Annie out for a well deserved respite, and bringing in Dance who immediately began looking over the stall wall with her kind, caring eyes. She hasn't stopped watching over the little guy since seeing him. The long hours are taking their toll on the caregivers. Dark circles are under everyone's eyes. The cold works its way into your joints and body, sapping energy. And this is just us sitting with him in couple hour shifts - imagine what being in that 24/7 is like. We've had a couple more volunteers offer to come sit with him which should help ease up the wear and tear on the small number of folks we have at the moment. Windchill sends mixed messages of hope and then despair. His few attempts to stand have wiped him out. One moment he seems able to get himself up into a position he can eat and drink water on his own, other times he needs us to help him into a position like you see below and then we have to either sit behind him and let him lean on us or place a wall of hay bales behind him to prop him up. He hasn't really moved at all since last night.
This morning when I went into the barn to look at him there wasn't any movement. It scared me. I realized at that moment I knew what I wanted for the little guy - I wanted him to live. Before this, throughout this fight for his life I've wondered what the best thing for him would be. If his legs are 'dead' he has no chance. But yet...was that a twitch? He can move his back legs! Now just move a front one, please... The ups and downs are draining on everyone emotionally and physically. But when I thought he was dead this morning I realized how much we all have invested in him - I want him to live. Maybe as this symbol of hope that despite the stupidity and downright cruelty of human beings, it can possibly be overcome with the determination this little guy has shown.
02/14, 02:16pm: Windchill's showing real fight today! After a slow start to his morning (perhaps he's just a late sleeper!) he's showing some flexion in his legs and trying to get up!
02/14, 11:35pm: A long day for everyone but one that had some promise. Windchill is making more attempts to get up. He's begun flexing his front legs and made 4 or 5 attempts to get up. He refuses to give up which means none of us will either. More people have called today, almost non-stop. We have more volunteers to help relieve us for the coming weekend - that's a great thing. Windchill's learning he kind of likes all this attention - if we're out there and make the 'mistake' of tending to other chores, he calls to us, wanting someone to sit nearby so he can put his head in their lap. He continues to eat and drink steadily, though needs to be held up to drink if he's not propped up on hay bales. We keep turning him onto his other side, a process he's not terribly fond of but that must be done. Tonight an engineer called and volunteered to come help develop a lift utilizing our barn rafters. The science department of a high school is volunteering to come sit for some shifts with him - it appears Windchill will be getting some education during this downtime - maybe that will be a motivator for him to stand up before they give him any tests?
Time for me to go out for the last check of the night and give him his last drink for the evening. Though he sleeps much of the day, his attempts to stand drain him completely and he'll sleep soundly til the 4am shift starts.
02/15, 3:32pm: Windchill has taken a significant downturn. He's slipped into a serious depression. We think his spirit is slipping after yesterday's failed attempts to get up and he's giving up. We HAVE to get him up in the next 24 hours. The sad thing is that his legs seem to be showing improvement with more flexibility in his front legs, his weakness and probable lack of control both are frustrating him. The offer of a sling was withdrawn as they didn't feel it would work so we spent today racing to find another and fortunately a farm in Cloquet gave us a makeshift one they've been using for both their horses and other livestock. Tomorrow or late tonight we're going to try to muster everybody that we can to help lift him.
7:25pm: The phone keeps ringing off the hook. That's been good though Windchill's finding it hard to talk on the cordless in a cold barn. Wish we'd get a reprieve from the bitter cold. Windchill keeps us guessing - he went from a decidedly depressed, down-spirited day with very little movement and not wanting to sit up at all, to perking up a bit this evening as friends stopped to put in time with him to even attempting to at least push himself up farther onto the hay bales. Apparently an entire school's faculty is going to be putting in time this weekend to help relieve us. Windchill's gonna get that education yet. Tomorrow will be a big day for all of us - the vet is coming in the morning to look him over. Hopefully his owner will come out and visit. The sheriff and the newspaper are going to come see how he's doing as well. And if the vet okays it we'll be cleared to lift him onto his legs. He really needs to stand if he's to survive. Today's depression really worried us but at least tonight after more company he was willing to give it a try. Tomorrow I hope this past week's worth of prayers, grain, hay, meds and new friends will all add up to giving him the hope and energy he will need to have the strength to get onto and stand on his feet again.
You can write Windchill and his caregivers at: Windchill@RaindanceHorses.com
We'll do our best to respond at some point.