Janice Braun Williams
were the odds a young woman named Michelle would answer my ad in
the newspaper for a dog groomer? Better yet, what were the odds
her husband was looking for a fishing boat? Not long into her
first day at my dog-grooming salon, Michelle told me she had a
very sick horse. The diagnosis: kidney stones.
worsened. Eventually her beautiful stallion underwent surgery to
remove the stones. To make matters worse the infection found its
way to the horseís genitals. The solution was impossible to
think of, but necessary. Her breeding stallion had to be gelded.
As she tells the
story, the young womanís voice falters. Tears fill her eyes.
The medical bills are astronomical. That isnít the worst of
it. With a busy show schedule and full-time employment, she
doesnít have the time to nurse the horse back to health.
My heart goes out
to her. As a youngster in Minnesota my summers were spent
playing cowboy and Indians, galloping across fields on our
ponies, free as birds. I remember watching, Dolly, a Shetland
pony, deliver her first foal. How worried I was until the tiny
head and feet presented themselves.
By the end of the
day I was entertaining the idea of volunteering to help look
after the horse. But where would I find the time? With the
responsibility of the dog grooming salon, a husband and six
children, there was little time left at the end of a day. I
banished the thought and didnít think about it again until the
day Michelle brought Kit home from Davis. She asked if I would
like to see him, and I eagerly agreed to follow her home after
prepared. Kit flattened his ears and charged. I jumped back,
fearful he might come through the stall door.
pain," Michelle explained. "He wasnít like this
before." She paused to wipe tears from her eyes. "Heís
so thin. I canít believe how much weight he lost."
I didnít know
what he looked like before his illness, but the horse glaring at
us was more than thin; his hipbones were prominent, so were his
ribs. His coat was dull and dirty, straw clung to his tail
because he wouldnít let anyone near him.
"How old is
he?" I asked.
believe it. "Seven?"
As the days
passed, Michelle made the decision to sell Kit. The thought he
might go to a home where his foul behavior would be mistaken for
meanness weighed on my mind. I didnít have the money to buy
him nor did I have a place to keep him. That night I told my
husband about Kit. He offered the only thing he had that might
save Kit from being mistaken as a renegade and eventually sold
to a slaughter house, his fishing boat.
The next day I
waited for Michelle to initiate conversation about Kit. When she
mentioned she was going to place an ad in the paper, I casually
asked her how much she wanted for him.
asking thirty-five hundred."
It was too much.
Kit was sick and mean tempered, but I understood that she was
trying to recoup some of the medical expenses. I knew my husbandís
boat wasnít worth her asking price. I drew a breath.
"Would you take my husbandís fishing boat for the
The deal was
sealed with a handshake. I made some phone calls and found a
boarding stable for Kit. The next day Michelle delivered him. He
came out of the horse trailer snorting and kicking. On more than
one occasion he went after someone with teeth barred. Undaunted,
I called a veterinarian. When I entered Kitís stall to halter
him, he charged at me, but I stood my ground. I felt his hot
breath on my face and looked into those pain-filled eyes. The
standoff lasted only a few minutes. My knees shook but I managed
to get a halter on Kit. Only then did the veterinarian come in.
Kit eyed him with fear. I knew I had called the right man when
he took the time to stroke Kitís lifeless coat. He spoke in
quiet tones, and I could see Kitís body relax. The thermometer
read a 105and it was early in the day. Kit was put on massive
doses of antibiotic to be administered twice daily by me. In
time, Kitís neck resembled a pincushion. As the infection
cleared up, Kitís demeanor changed. His eyes softened. He
looked forward to his daily grooming. Best of all, he became a
trusted mount and part of our family. Because of him we bought
our first ranch and moved to the country.
Now for the
Christmas miracle. Kit became sick again, just before Christmas.
His temperature soared to a 106. The vet was called. He held
little hope for Kit, suspecting a reoccurrence of kidney stones.
Our funds were limited. Surgery was out of the question, so Karl
and I gathered our six children around our sick horse and held
hands. We prayed for God to heal Kit. Later that night, as I
tucked my children into bed, there was no doubt in their minds
that Kit would recover. I canít say I shared their faith. I
lay awake half the night worrying. The following morning as
daylight sifted in through the curtains, I nudged my husband. I
couldnít bring myself to go outside to check on Kit.
Reluctantly, Karl dressed in warm clothing and went outside to
feed Kit and the other horses. When he returned, I rolled over
and studied his face. If Kit had died during the night there
would be tears in Karlís eyes. There were no tears. Iíll
always remember his smile when I asked, "Well?"
fine. Actually heís better than fine. Heís bucking and
rearing, and racing around his paddock."
Kit lived another
eighteen years. The story has outlived him and is still being
told to countless disbelievers who ask, "What makes you
think God cares about animals?"