This is kind of a long story.... but worth telling I think. Last week I wrote about a quick little trip I made to Saskatchewan. And I showed you some photos I took. Saskatchewan has lots of really beautiful barns, like this....
While I was there I spent some time on a ranch. I got to mess with cows all I wanted and I also helped doctor a horse that had mangled his right front leg in a feed bunk and cut his hind leg too. "Jackson" is a good ol' ranch pony. The kind that is solid, kind, dependable and worth his weight in gold to his owner. But those legs were not looking good at all.
The vet had prescribed hydro-therapy for 20 minutes a day, shots of antibiotics and daily bandage changes. Those things were pretty much impossible for Jackson's owner to do. The sub-zero temperatures that are still happening in Saskatchewan made hydro-therapy completely out of the question. The ranch is a pretty simple operation and there isn't a barn or facility of any kind to help keep Jackson out of the impending sloppy, muddy conditions that are coming very soon when Saskatchewan has it's "big melt" of spring. The bandages weren't wanting to stay on.... you get the picture.
I hated leaving him there, knowing the chances were good he wouldn't get better. The leg would probably get very infected. His owner was worried he was going to have to put him down. I came home with a heavy heart for Jackson. I told my mom about his poor prognosis and how it was so frustrating for me, because I knew he could be saved.... Prairie Granny and I decided to do something. Granny watched the rugrats and I left for Canada on a mission.
I convinced Jackson's owner to let me try to help him. I scheduled and appointment with the vet, hauled him to town and had his international health inspection done. Two days later his paperwork was in and he was allowed to be exported to the U.S.A. on a temporary permit.
Good ol' Jackson loaded up in my trailer and we headed south. We hit a snowstorm just before the border crossing. Pulling horse trailers in snowstorms is not on my list of favorite things to do, but we managed. When we got to the border, the border patrol asked me why I was importing the horse. I was honest and said I was going to doctor the horse. They didn't bat an eye until I said he needed "hydro-therapy on his leg". With that, the border agent freaked completely out and said there was no way he would allow the horse to cross until he was inspected by the U.S.D.A. veterinarian that just happens to be at the border crossing over in Alberta!
I admit, I lost it. The tears came because I had just driven hours through a snow storm with my injured friend and they were sending us right back into that storm. We would have to haul 4 hours to the east to the other border crossing which would put us still another 4 hours from home. I had done everything I knew was right, only to hit a brick wall. I debated just taking him back to the ranch. I was so worried we would get rejected again at the other crossing and I would end up returning him to the bull pen at the ranch in spite of all our efforts. His leg was starting to get infected, I could smell it when I opened the trailer door. So the U.S.D.A veterinarian might not even let him in. I didn't know what to do....
I bawled my eyes out for a while as I drove back north. Poor Jackson.... I wanted to help him but maybe I couldn't. After I called his owner to discuss the problem, I decided not to give up. We trekked on and thankfully the snow storm lightened up as we crossed into Alberta.
The Sweetgrass border crossing is open 24 hours but I had to wait until 8:00 am before the U.S.D.A veterinarian would be in his office. So at 9:00 p.m., I pulled into a nice little truck stop outside of Medicine Hat and prepared to wait it out. I did my best to make Jackson comfortable in the trailer. We had no hay because I was afraid the border patrol wouldn't allow me to haul hay across the border. But I did have some pellet feed and I gave Jackson a snack. I could tell he was tired after being hauled all day and now he was stuck in the trailer for the night.
I was so exhausted and emotionally drained I didn't even bother finding any supper. I just kicked back in the heated seat of my pickup and curled up with my chore coat covering me like a blanket. I watched semi trucks roll in and out until I dozed off....
At dawn I found a Safeway store that had Starbucks coffee, a donut and water for Jackson. His injuries were really starting to show infection. The stench in the trailer was pretty strong. So I gathered up my doctoring supplies and managed to get his bandages changed inside the trailer. I was afraid if I unloaded poor Jackson, he would never want to get back in there! But I knew without the wraps being fresh and clean, we wouldn't get through the inspection.
I took a deep breath, thought some positive thoughts, said a prayer and left for the border. When we arrived I was questioned about why I had been rejected at the other border crossing. I was questioned about why I didn't just doctor Jackson in Canada. I was asked if I had any alcohol, tobacco or over $10,000 in currency with me. Then they sent us down to the U.S.D.A. I found the vet to be a very kind, understanding man. Thank God! I explained everything and told him how the other border guys had freaked out me when I said Jackson needed "hydro-therapy". He apologized and told me, "Ya.... you shoulda just said you were gonna wash it with water," and he chuckled. He looked Jackson over, then handed me the paperwork and said we were good to go! The relief I felt was overwhelming. I jumped in the pickup and crossed that imaginary line as fast as I could!
The sun broke through the clouds as we dropped further into Montana. Four hours later we were home. Jackson was so glad to get the heck out of that trailer and into his oversized stall, bedded knee deep in fresh straw. But he sure not crazy about those funny looking, fuzzy alpacas!
Now several days later, there has been a drastic improvement to Jackson's injuries. The hydro-therapy and T.L.C. is working!
But more importantly, as Jackson is healing, I am healing. Things haven't exactly been easy lately. I have had a lot of stress and have been struggling to find ways to manage it. I have also been determined to be "so busy loving my life that I have no time for hate, regret, or fear". (That's a cute little sign I have hanging in my bathroom.) But sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to help someone else that needs it. Pouring ourselves out in love and charity can be the best thing we do for our own hearts. As he heals, I heal. Pretty simple huh?
So Jackson and I challenge you: If you are feeling the stresses of daily life a little more than you should. Look around for someone who needs a helping hand. Find a place to give a little of your love, time, resources or whatever.... Your heart will thank you for it, I promise.
Now go make something beautiful,