|Luna & Mallory at Auburn|
Luna, my foal, turned one month old Sunday, August 13. We celebrated with a midnight emergency run to Auburn University’s Veterinary Hospital.
I noticed she wasn’t her spunky self that evening. She was listless, didn’t dive for Mallory’s grain, wasn’t interested in nursing. Something was wrong.
I called the after-hours number for my vet clinic. Dr. Whitley was on call. He told me to take her temperature and call him back. Luna was very still and patient during that process, a first for both of us. I have a hard time reading mercury thermometers, but it looked like her temp was near 104 degrees. Anything over 102 is high, so I asked him to come out and examine her.
His thermometer read 102.8, still higher than it should be. He listened to her breathing, heard something he didn’t like. He pulled and pushed on her skin. She was dehydrated.
“It could be rhodococcus,” he said. “It’s a bacterial infection common in young foals. It can be serious, even fatal. “
I swallowed the lump in my throat and asked what our next step was.
“How much money do you want to spend?” was his reply. I couldn’t believe the question. “Whatever it takes,” I replied. The Oneonta clinic doesn’t keep the meds to treat the disease. He called Coosa Valley Equine Center in Pell City. They don’t keep them, either. I would have to take her to Auburn.
“Let me change clothes,” I told him.
“I wouldn’t take the time,” he said. That was scary.
I threw some clothes and toiletry kit into my overnight bag and some snacks into my truck. Dr. Whitley helped me hitch up my horse trailer and load mare and foal. By then, it was after 9 p.m. I couldn’t see well. I scraped the side of my trailer against my gate as I left the barn area. When I got to Auburn, I had a shredded tire.
My thoughts swirled during the drive down. I was so sleepy I could hardly hold my eyes open. I felt the same anxiety I had last summer when I rushed home from the beach knowing I’d find my dog, Moses, dead.
I prayed. I told God how attached I had grown to Luna. I pointed out that my grandsons would be devastated if we lost her. I asked Him to spare her and keep my wheels between the white lines. God gave me peace.
The clinic’s night staff was ready when we arrived. They helped me unload. The resident in charge, Dr. Rebecca Legere, did an ultrasound. She had a student pull some blood. She listened to Luna’s breathing.
Her temp had gone down, she was only 5 percent dehydrated because she had nursed in the trailer, and her breathing was better. The situation wasn’t critical, so Dr. Legere decided to save me some money by waiting until regular clinic hours to do the major blood work. I dropped my trailer in the designated parking area. It was 2 a.m. when I got to a motel.
Monday morning, Luna’s temp was down to normal. The blood work indicated some inflammation, but they couldn’t determine what was causing it. With rhodococcus, the temp would have stayed high, Dr. Legere said.
She said I could take the pair home if I wanted, or leave them 24 hours for further observation. I elected to leave them. Monday afternoon Dr. Legere texted me three photos of Luna and Mallory, with the message, “Much brighter, curious, and spunkier!”
The Auburn vet clinic teams fell in love with Luna. They couldn’t believe how easy she was to handle. As I was opening my trailer to load her, I overheard one student tell another, “I’m gonna miss her. She’s so sweet.”
Another commented, “You must have handled her a lot.”
“Since she was one hour old,” I responded. “It shows,” she came back. My chest puffed up like a proud grandmother.
She has been fine since we got home Tuesday (August 15) afternoon I’m checking her temp twice a day and Mallory’s once a day. We still don’t know what happened. Dr. Legere says she may have gotten a bug that her immune system fought off.
Praise God for Auburn University’s vet clinic, U.S. Rider Equestrian Roadside Assistance, and
the power of prayer.