Author Archives: Sherri Goodall

INAPPROPRIATE INGESTION

posted January 21st, 2016 by
What's in Your Dog Shampoo

INAPPROPRIATE INGESTION – FROM STRANGE TO BIZARRE…

by Sherri Goodall 

 

What do the following items have in common?

Socks, underwear, bank statements, baggies, paper clips, spoons, coins, Kleenex, a whole chicken, jewelry, sewing needles, dog and baby toys, teething rings and pacifiers…

If you haven’t guessed yet, all of the above have been ingested by dogs and cats. In the veterinary world, it’s known as “inappropriate ingestion.”

Dr. Ron Hooley at River Trail Animal Hospital explains the reason why certain breeds are more prone to this and why they do it.

Dogs most prone to this are high-energy breeds and hunting breeds. Almost everyone with a Lab or a Golden Retriever has a story about items their dogs have eaten.

The cause is usually due to separation anxiety from their owners, boredom, or just plain curiosity. The reason so many dirty items of clothing are eaten is because the dog smells its owner on them. Socks seem to be the preferred choice on the menu of clothes, although I’ve heard of t-shirts, lingerie and slippers being chewed up and swallowed or simply swallowed whole.

Dr. Hooley says the most bizarre case he’s seen was from an owner calling him hysterically, saying her dog had swallowed a chicken. Dr. Hooley asked if she meant chicken bones or raw or cooked pieces. She said, “You don’t understand; he ate a whole chicken.” They lived in rural Oklahoma on a farm, and the dog evidently decided he  wanted a whole chicken for dinner, so he ate it!

Dr. Hooley isn’t sure, but feels the dog must have killed it first. The owner was able to grab one leg of the chicken before the rest went down the dog’s hatch. The X-ray shows the whole chicken in the dog’s stomach, feathers and all. Hooley kept the dog for a few days, watching and waiting. Sure enough, the dog digested just about the entire chicken, and nature took its course. Surgery wasn’t necessary. Eventually, the owner and Dr. Hooley had a good laugh about the dog, which was a mixed breed, part Husky.

The X-ray of a sewing needle comes from a cat’s tummy. Cats love to play with string and thread and will eat it sometimes. Often the thread is attached to a needle, as in this case. The needle had to be surgically removed since it was actually stuck in the intestines.

Dr. Hooley says there’s a big advantage to using an endoscope. This thin tube with a pincer-type tool on the end can be inserted through the animal’s mouth, into the esophagus and stomach and can actually grab and pull out ingested material. My own Westie, MacTwo, got a piece of rawhide stuck in his esophagus. (He was trying to take it away from my other Westie and swallowed it whole in the process.) Thankfully, our vet was able to extract it with an endoscope.

Dogs and cats have twisty intestines, just like humans. Dogs have extremely strong stomach acids. This comes from their predecessors – wolves. Wolves eat mostly wildlife, not cooked steaks as we’d like to think our dogs prefer. Since wildlife feeds on vegetation, the wolves get the carbohydrates and fiber they need plus the protein without the added fat that we humans love in grain-fed cattle (to fatten them up).

That’s why if you give your dog fatty meats, he will usually get sick. That’s when you might see your dog eating grass. It’s not always because they have indigestion but because they crave it in their diets. They can also have gastritis issues, like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and the grass helps their tummies.

Our very own publisher of TulsaPets Magazine, Marilyn King, has a great story about her Lab, Buster Brown. He got into Marilyn’s bathtub one day and scarfed down her disposable razor!  For dessert, he ate an entire bar of her special Erno Laszlo face soap. Of course, she panicked, and rushed Buster to the vet where X-rays were taken. Fortunately, the soap had encased the broken razor blade, which kept his intestines from being slashed. Again, nature took its course, and Buster pooped out bits of razor encased in very expensive soap. Good thing he was still hungry after the razor!

You might remember Watson, the Golden Retriever featured in TulsaPets who went to Disneyland with his trainer, Casey Largent. Casey was training Watson for Therapetics. While under  her tutelage, Watson ate her bank statements (chewing them first), paper clips, baggies, dog toys and coins. His favorite though was used Kleenex, which he would snatch off tables,        and dig out of waste baskets. He’s since  gone to live with his new partner and seems to be more appropriate in his dining habits.

Casey’s own dog, Cami, ate about $100 worth of scrapbooking supplies. While the Border Collie was at it, she chewed up a book, fittingly titled “Bad Dogs Have More Fun.”

Another one of my friends, Ben, has a yellow Lab named Calvin. He is the epitome of everything funny and crazy I’ve heard about Labs. For starters, Calvin swallowed Ben’s wedding ring. Her husband, Gary, didn’t believe her and claimed she lost it. Two days later, she felt like it was Christmas. Calvin pooped out her ring. The games were just beginning. Calvin discovered      Ben’s husband’s anti-snoring device on the bathroom sink. It only took one minute for Gary to turn his head, and Calvin jumped up and crunched it. Before he could swallow it, Gary grabbed the pieces. To no avail, it cost $1,500 to replace.

For more fun, Calvin grabbed the TV remote and ran outside. Gary gave chase. While Ben is yelling, “Don’t hurt Calvin…” Gary falls and cracks two ribs. As with most dogs, Calvin is a huge socks  fan, as you can see in his picture. His favorite of all are golf socks, which he faithfully throws up at night. How can you not love this dog?

One of my favorite stories is from a family with a mixed Terrier. The dog  was losing weight and feeling listless over a period of about a year, even though he was eating his regular meals. The dad finally took the dog to the vet to find out what could be wrong. After an X-ray, the doctor came out and said, “Looks like a pacifier’s stuck in your dog’s intestines.” Sure enough, the dad remembered about a year ago spending a sleepless night when their baby wouldn’t go to sleep because they couldn’t find its pacifier. This time, the pacifier was surgically removed,   and the dog continued to thrive, as did the baby.

My sympathies to all of you who have these eating machines for pets. Your vet thanks you for his or her job security!

TANNER and BLAIR

posted October 17th, 2015 by
20141115c

The Incredible Pair

By Sherri Goodall

 

Remember Tanner and Blair?

One (Tanner) born blind with a seizure disorder, and one (Blair) found with a gunshot wound to her pelvis and, in turn, extremely distrustful of people. It seemed like a God thing that the two would not only meet, but turn into a pair assisting each other, both physically and emotionally.

Their story not only went viral throughout the U.S., it was translated into 12 languages and touched people all over the world. Their story was reported in 2012 by Burt Mummolo with Channel 8, and picked up by 29 countries. Reported on by Diane Sawyer, Katy Couric and Jeanne Moos, ABC, CNN and Huffington Post were just a few of the news organizations that picked up the story.

Blair, a Labrador mix, was found with her sister by a Good Samaritan and taken to Woodland West. Her sister was quickly adopted but Blair was very shy, scared, and unfriendly to people.

In January 2010, Tanner came to Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue after his owner died. He was just a few months old, blind since birth with seizures. He was fostered out twice, but neither owner was able to care for him with his multiple issues. Unable to care for him herself, Pam Denny of SGRR took him to Woodland West Animal   Hospital where he spent weeks in their care supervised by Dr. Mike Jones.

There were many mornings when Dr. Jones would come in and find evidence that Tanner had seized during the night. This occurred almost every night regardless of the medications Dr. Jones gave him. So frequent and severe, Dr. Jones called  Pam Denny to talk about putting Tanner down as the most merciful solution to his many problems.

One fateful February day, Blair ambled into the yard where Tanner was. As if she was on a specific mission, she trotted up to Tanner and took his leash in her mouth and their bond was sealed. They were inseparable from that moment on. They ate together and were crated together, which is a no-no—especially overnight—but each morning Dr. Jones found the two happy and no evidence of Tanner seizing.

Tanner, who used to seize nightly, had a total of three seizures in the few months since being with Blair. His anxiety issues dramatically decreased, resulting in fewer seizures, and his medications were greatly reduced.

Dr.  Jones said, “We recognize the human-animal bond. We know that this bond helps decrease blood pressure in humans.  Simply petting a dog lowers a human’s blood pressure. We should also recognize the animal-animal bond, and the good it can do as well.”

Blair had become a better dog—more friendly, trusting, and outgoing with people. She seemed happy with her new life as Tanner’s assistance dog.

When their story made national and international news, calls came in from all across the globe. SGRR received over 100 applications from L.A. to New York from people wanting to adopt the pair.  There would be much to consider in choosing the right home for these two with their special needs.

Finally, after many reviews, the Sibley family of Jenks, Okla., was chosen to become the “forever” family of Tanner and Blair. Prior to her adoption, Blair was made an “honorary member” of SGRR. To add to the mix, they would have a new brother, a chocolate Lab named Louie, who also had a seizure disorder. The Sibleys were no strangers to dogs with issues. It didn’t take long for  the three dogs to bond. Blair remained ever protective of Tanner, still leading him around with his leash.

Shortly after the adoption, Tanner had cataract surgery and a lens inserted. The hope was to improve his vision, no matter how minimal. His owner said he still bumped into things, but possibly saw shadows. Not to worry, with Blair ever  ready at his side, Tanner now had a constant in his life.

I wish this story had a happy, ever-after ending, but four months after Tanner’s adoption, he had a severe series of seizures over a weekend and had to be euthanized. The outpouring of sadness and affection on Tanner and Blair’s Facebook page was astounding.

Blair, however, is doing quite well. The Sibley family moved to Washington with Blair and Louie. The latest update from Tiffany Sibley says Blair is doing fabulous. She thinks she is a lap dog and loves to be cradled in her family’s arms like a baby and will just fall asleep. Her buddy, Louie, is also doing well. They hate to be apart. If one goes to the vet, the other is quite anxious until the other returns. The bond between them seems permanently forged as was Tanner and Blair’s.

Blair’s favorite toys are stuffed hedgehogs. Louie tears the stuffing out, and Blair carries what’s left in her mouth.

Sweet Blair turned 4 in July.

Tanner’s spirit hangs lovingly over Blair, the Sibleys, and Louie.

Canines and Carwashes

posted March 7th, 2015 by
20140915c

Canines & Carwashes

CANINES & CARWASHES

By Sherri Goodall

 

It seemed like such a good idea at the time… sunny day, dirty car, no line at the carwash. I didn’t think about my two dogs in the car.

Who knew?

I plunked down my money for the deluxe carwash—the one with all the bells and whistles and the longest cycle (of course), seven minutes—the longest 420 seconds of my life!

At the first downpour of pounding water and pummeling brushes, my Westies went ballistic, howling, growling, snapping and yapping. The flashing green and red lights didn’t help. At the same time my car was shimmying and shaking, my dogs were leaping from the back seat to the front seat, into the dashboard, into my lap and into each other. They were desperately trying to escape or attack the water and brushes. (Anything that moves is fair game for a Westie.) I understand what it must feel like to be inside a washing machine.

I gripped the wheel in panic as I realized I was stuck in this carwash, trapped! I am trapped in this car with two flying, freaked-out dogs! Plus, I am trying to keep my eyes on an immovable object in the distance so I don’t get carsick and throw up. I see the cycles light up on the bar above the car. We’re only on cycle three, one of countless rinses. I can’t hold my breath any longer, or I’ll explode. We’re not even halfway done. I toy with the idea of crashing through the brushes as they slap the car. My luck, I’ll get stuck and spend eternity on a merry-go-round of wash cycles. I’m astounded at the insanity of my dogs, and their stamina… that they could keep up this level of hyperactive madness for seven minutes.

By the time the carwash spit us out, finally waxed and dried (another extremely loud and annoying noise, especially for dogs’ ears), I was a sweating, hyperventilating wreck. The outside of the car sparkled; you could apply your makeup and pluck your eyebrows by looking into the gleam.

The inside looked like the aftermath of a tornado. White tufts of fur stuck to the ceiling and dashboard, scratch marks streaked the leather seats, my sunglasses lay broken on the floor, and the contents of my purse littered the front seat. And, to top it off, my macho-male MacTwo had peed everywhere possible in his excitement, and my dainty lady Mulligan had pooped in terror in the back seat.

Will I ever take my dogs to a carwash again? NO WAY!

What Exactly is a Wolfdog?

posted September 21st, 2013 by

by Sherri Goodall

Perhaps the easiest way to answer the question, “What exactly is a wolfdog?” would be to start with what it isn’t.

It is not a hybrid.

A hybrid is a result of two different species breeding. For example, a liger (lion and tiger) or a mule (donkey and horse) are both hybrids. The offspring is always sterile. Wolves and dogs are the same species. There is only a .2 percent difference in their DNA. In fact, if you go back far enough, all dogs trace back to wolves. My Westies would have to go back hundreds of generations to find the wolf in their ancestry.

It is not a dog in a wolf’s body or vice versa.

Today’s wolfdogs are the result of dozens or more generations of wolfdogs bred with wolfdogs or canine breeds. It is very rare for a wild wolf to breed with a domestic dog. Years ago, wolfdogs came into existence because of fur farms. Breeders bred wolves to Northern breeds such as Malamutes and Huskies for their pelts, thus getting what we know now as the wolfdog.

Phenotyping

Phenotyping is based on lineage, behavior and characteristics and is used to determine how much wolf is in a wolfdog. High content would be 75 percent wolf; mid-high content would be 50 to 74 percent wolf; low-mid content would be 1 to 49 percent wolf. The higher the wolf content, the higher the wolf traits and characteristics.

Wolves are pack animals and depend on the alpha male/female for leadership, protection and food. A lone wolf is not a happy wolf. By nature, wolves are very shy. They depend on their alpha for protection, and if that is a human, then they will expect you to protect them, not the other way around.

They will likely run and hide if a stranger approaches. Wolves mate for life, so when one loses its mate, it can grieve to death. (Wolves are the only animal known to bury their young if a pup dies.) People who care for wolfdogs usually have a pair for this reason.

Wolves are said to have the intelligence of a 5-year-old human; dogs, a 2-year-old. If you own a wolfdog, you will find them extremely intelligent to the point of outsmarting you! They’re Houdinis when it comes to opening gates, digging out of enclosures or just climbing over fences. Now that you have a primer on what a wolfdog is and isn’t, let’s talk about these majestic, soulful creatures in person.

Terry and Karen Lilly rescue and rehabilitate wolfdogs. Their passion began 10 years ago with a wolfdog pup named Bear. He was supposed to be a “trial run” for the Lillys to see how life with a wolfdog would be.

The trial run lasted seven years. Bear passed over the rainbow bridge in 2010. When he was a year old, the Lillys got Cheyenne as a companion for Bear. She was the offspring of two high-content wolfdogs, and what a handful she has been!

Karen says that Terry is the most patient human she knows, and Cheyenne pushes him to the edge. It was then that the Lillys decided to do something about these misunderstood and mistreated creatures. They’ve volunteered their time at Safari Sanctuary in Broken Arrow for several years, where there are four pairs of wolfdogs. They are the Lillys’ “babies.”

I have to admit, I was slightly terrified when the Lillys led me to the first enclosure, housing Tanasi, the male who is part Malamute, and Tseena, the female. When the two saw Karen and Terry walk up, they immediately jumped up on the fence and went bonkers with joy.

Wolves don’t bark, but they howl and whine and “talk” to you. When they settled down a bit, Karen told me these two were the most socialized and would love to “play” with me. I decided to wait a bit, but I did pet Tseena through the fence, and she actually licked my hand. “My, what great big, white teeth you have,” I said.

My terror evaporated as I looked into Tanasi and Tseena’s beautiful eyes. Curious more than anything, they wanted to check me out just as I wanted to check them out. There was no fear or aggression.

Myatuk and Akayla were in the next enclosure. They were typically shy and watched from a distance. They came to the fence when I retreated. No sticking hands in there! (However, there was no danger in doing so.)

Once we got to Apollo and River, Karen became very animated. These were her extra special babies. Apollo is a light gray wolfdog, quite majestic and regal. Both he and River, who looks more Husky, are mid-content. Both were rescued from a woman who wasn’t able to care for them any longer.

It took almost two months of constant visiting and coaxing to capture the pair and get them to the Sanctuary in 2012. They were malnourished and skittish, and River was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on her leg.

Karen spent weeks in the pen, winning the pair’s trust. Even though Apollo takes his cues from River, he is definitely the alpha. When Karen entered the enclosure, River raced over to her, grinning from ear to ear, as only a canine can do. I don’t know who loves whom more!

When River saw me, she retreated and started pacing. I was allowed in the pen, but just stood there. Apollo watched River; River watched Karen; both watched me. It was only when Karen left me and got closer that the pair came to her, but always with a wary eye on me. It was if they knew she would “protect” them.

When l went out, they immediately came over to where I stood, and starting smelling the ground to check me out. I’m sure they smelled my Westies. River appears to be cancer free and just celebrated her third birthday.

It was then that I could feel the “bond” that the Lillys spoke of. Terry said it’s impossible to explain. It’s something that is felt purely in one’s heart, both the animal and the person.

Now, I was ready for my play date with Tanasi and Tseena. I was told to stand against something and be prepared for paw marks on my visor. Tseena came out first and practically leapt into my arms. Yes, I had paw marks from my waist up to my face. She wanted kisses.

Next, Tanasi came out. He was a bit gentler, and at 120 pounds, tried to climb in my lap (I was sitting by then). Do not try this at home! These are the most socialized of the wolfdog pairs at the Sanctuary. Of course, they also took their cues from Karen and Terry.

The verdict after my encounter with wolfdogs: I was in love! Despite my successful meet and greet, very few people can qualify to own these majestic canines. They are not pets; they won’t curl up in your lap, fetch your slippers or sit on command.

Ever try training a house cat? (Sort of like my Westies.) A wolf does what a wolf wants to do… period. They do not respond to discipline. You must earn their respect and vice versa. They never should be left alone with small children or small pets, neither should any large breed dog.

They require large and secure enclosures, a high protein diet (meat) and can be very expensive to maintain. They require a huge amount of socialization with people and other animals. Each definitely needs another wolf/canine companion. The Lillys do adopt out wolfdogs, but it is a very disciplined process.

The Lillys are in the process of acquiring acreage for their rescue work. A major fundraiser has been launched at www.gogetfunding.com/project/wolfwolfdog- sanctuary.

Please visit and show your support! To learn more, visit www.freedomssong.org. You can also check it out on Facebook, Freedoms Song Wolf Rescue, where you can read a heartwarming story from the Moore tornadoes involving the rescue and rehabilitation of a severely injured wolfdog.

Gypsy Vanner Horses

posted January 14th, 2013 by

by Sherri Goodall

The first time you see a Gypsy Vanner horse galloping toward you, you have to ask, “What kind of horse is that?”

With sturdy bodies and dense “feathered” legs, impossibly long tails and thick manes flying in the wind, they look like they might just take off and fly like a fanciful unicorn.

Whitney Forsyth, the wife of the husband/wife team of Green Country Gypsy Horses, assured me these gorgeous creatures are a very old and recognized breed going back several hundred years. There are only around 2,000 Gypsy horses in the U.S. The Forsyths are one of a handful of breeders in Oklahoma.

The Gypsy horse has its roots in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. They are descended from draft horses such as Clydesdales and Shires. These huge draft horses were bred with Dales Ponies and Fells Ponies to reduce the size, yet retain the strong bone structure and the unique feathering that distinguishes this breed.

The Gypsy people, known as Roma, have traveled through Europe, England and Asia for hundreds of years. Their nomadic life required horses that could pull their heavy, ornately handcrafted wagons through the countryside. Traveling in caravans, these horses are sometimes known as Gypsy “Vanner” horses. They go by several different names (see sidebar).

Not only did the horses need to be strong enough to “drive,” or pull carts and wagons, they needed to be able to graze wherever the Gypsies wandered. The horses are “cold-blooded” vs. “warm-blooded.” This term defines muscular, heavyset horses that are bred to be calm, steady and patient. They also are able to endure brutal winters without shelter. At the end of the day, the horses needed to be docile enough so that the children could learn to ride and spend time with them.

Known for their colorful culture, it makes sense that the Gypsy people wanted fancy horses. They love the massive amounts of mane and feather moving in the wind when the horses are driving or galloping by—it is truly spectacular. The more hair, the better the horse. Some think their unusual appearance made the horses more difficult to steal.

During shows, the horses’ flowing manes and tails are braided and decorated with vibrant colored ribbons matching beautiful blankets and finery worn by their riders.

One of the breed’s most noteworthy  characteristics is its incredibly gentle nature. Whitney says the Gypsy horses are known as the Golden Retrievers of the horse world. If they could crawl in your lap, they would!

Whitney’s horses would rather be outside than in a barn, no matter what the weather. They are extremely social and gather at the same hay feeder even though there are several feeders around.

When we visited, the youngest fillies, Magnolia and Jubilee, trotted right over to us and began nuzzling our faces, hands and bodies. The rest of the herd, two geldings and several mares, came galloping over soon. It was like a giant hug fest with each horse wanting more attention. The Forsyths have 10 horses now.

The stallion, Icor — the most magnificent specimen of all — was in a separate pasture. He is considered one of the best stallions of the breed in the U.S. and an Elite Stallion in the Selective Breeding Program in the Irish Cob Society in Europe. He’s a Bay Roan with black feathers. Many of the Gypsy horses have one blue eye and one brown. Some have both eyes blue. One of his pregnant mares was with him. Icor, too, proved gentle, curious and friendly. His mane was a mass of thick black hair that fell over his neck as a fur stole. Whitney was constantly pushing it out of his eyes. Another characteristic of these horses is the heavy forelock that falls over its muzzle. Supposedly, this was to protect the horse’s eyes and face from harsh weather.

The beautiful Karma of this story is the coincidence of it all.

The Forsyths took their first trip to Romania in 1994, volunteering with the Romanian Evangelistic Medical Mission. They fell in love with the Roma people and their country. In 2001, they were blessed with the opportunity to adopt a baby girl from Romania. Simona is her name, and she is of Gypsy descent.

The story gets even better…Simona seemed to have a passion for horses, and began riding lessons when she was 7. At a fall festival in Tulsa, the Forsyths saw the Gypsy Vanner horses for the first time. Simona had an immediate visceral connection to these special horses, and the Forsyths understood why, once they learned of the horses’ special history.

It was a match made in heaven. Soon the Forsyths bought their first Gypsy Vanner horse, Argyle, for Simona. At 14, Simona is an accomplished, award-winning rider with Argyle and competes in hunter jumper events. Her dad competes in western events. They travel with their horses to Gypsy horse shows around the country and have won several awards. The Gypsy horse is quite versatile and able to participate most equestrian events.

As much as Simona loves to ride, she also loves spending time in the pasture with the horses, as well as participating in their care. When they see her coming, they meet her at the gate for extra scratches. For more information and a chance to visit, go to www. greencountrygypsyhorses. com.

T-Town Miniature Horses

posted September 16th, 2012 by

by Sherri Goodall

What has four legs, a swishy tail, a super-soft coat, a feisty, friendly attitude, and stands 34” tall at the shoulders? Oh, and it ranks about 100 on the cuteness-meter.

If you said one of T-Town’s miniature horses, you’d be correct. Their three-month- old foals are beyond adorable (more like 150 on the cuteness-meter).

When we first met Tony and Judi Krehbiel’s miniature horses, we were introduced to the mares. They nuzzled us and wanted to make friends. We marveled at their small stature and sweet temperament. In the background, I saw four foals gamboling about like puppies. They were chasing each other, jumping on each other, rearing up and “mouth wrestling” like my Westies at play.

Next, there were three fillies and a “stallion.” Putting the name “stallion” on this two-foot tall black fuzz ball would be an oxymoron, except he acted like one. There he was, nuzzling the mares through the fence, showing off, and acting like a super stud. It was hilarious! Then he took off after the fillies who gave him a good run for his money. Soon after he was off to Momma for a little milk and reassurance. (There’s something about miniature that greatly influences the cute-ness factor.)

Tony and Judi both retired after 30- some years of teaching. Judi taught in the Bixby school district and Tony taught and administered computer science at Tulsa Community College. For years, they raised palomino quarter horses, successfully showing and breeding them. Tony was president of the Palomino Horse Breeders of America.

Breaking and caring for the big horses became too much of an ordeal for the Krehbiels, so they turned to miniatures. Tony lucked into a small palomino stallion, three good mares and their three babies.

Thus began a love affair that has satisfied them and made them smile every day since. They no longer show the miniatures, but they have show mares and two stallions, one of which is the son of a 2005 Grand Champion (T-Town’s Admiral Piccolo.). Their breeding stock comes from the Johnson’s Jo-Co Miniatures of Michigan, which recently ended an impressive career of breeding and showing in the nationals.

These cuties don’t kick, bite or stomp on you. On the contrary, they have very docile personalities—big personalities unique to each one. Each is extremely bright. They like people, and they expect you to like them. These little guys have no idea how small they are and might as well be Budweiser Clydesdales. In fact, the Krehbiels have one standard size mare who is at the bottom of the pecking order. She has to come into the barn last because the minis boss her around.

Tony gave us a demonstration of how he halter-breaks the foals. He starts when they’re just a couple months old. Judi calls this “peopleizing.” As Tony cleans the stalls, he familiarizes the foals with the halter and ever so gently puts the halter on his or her head. The foals will kick and fight, but Tony is patient. When the horse finally settles down, Tony hooks the halter to the stall. At this point, if the horse is calm, Tony will pick up its feet and handle them. This is so the horses will be used to hoof-trimming.

Many of the miniatures work as “therapy” animals, acting as eyes for the blind, and going to facilities for mentally challenged children and senior citizens. Children with autistic syndrome disorders often bond easier with animals than people. The diminutive size of these horses makes them perfect, non-threatening friends.

The Krehbiels made it very clear that their miniature horses are far more than a reduced version of the standard- size horse. These cuties are bred for temperament, as well as size. The standards for size are 34” at the withers (across shoulders). Color does not matter. They are a separate breed from Shetland ponies.

Many people buy the horses for pets. Yes, they can be potty-trained, and they do need a yard, just like your dogs. They are playful, friendly and cuddly. But they are nonetheless horses, so one must learn how to train and interact with them.

One thing to note is that the minis are not for riding. A toddler might be the right size to ride a mini, but it will take two adults—one to lead the horse and the other to hold the child. A foal stays close to his mama.

The miniature horse was bred originally to work in underground mines, pulling carts. Many were brought to the U.S. to work in coal mines. Today, the little horses are bred for show or for pets. They can be trained to jump and “drive” (pulling carts).

It’s a good thing—a very good thing— I didn’t drive my SUV. I would’ve loaded up one of these babies in a New York minute. I can see it now, a miniature horse and two cocky Westies. To learn more about T-Town Miniature Horses, visit ttownminis.com or call the Krehbiels at (918) 366-4119.

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