Almost three weeks ago, Renegade arrived at the CAPE Animal Sanctuary. His new home is a corral that butts up against the equine pasture. Over the weeks, and over the top of his fencing, he has met all the donkeys as well as Remy, an ex racehorse who has been rehabilitated into a healthy, happy horse.
Although when he first laid eyes on Renegade, Remy was anything but happy. He became upset, charging around the pasture, herding the donkeys away from Renegade's corral. But as the days have passed, we have seen the two horses begin to form what we imagine will be a lifelong friendship.
In recent days, Remy has been hanging out next to Renegade. Over the fence of the corral, they have touched noses, sniffing and learning about each other in the way that horses do.
Renegade's demeanor has also changed. At first, he was cranky and standoffish to the CAPE staff and volunteers. The recently diagnosed Cushing's Disease made him feel lousy which put him in a bad mood. But with medication and his new diet, Renegade has slowly transformed into a much happier guy. His coat is finally shedding (a sign that the disease is calming down) and he is beginning to enjoy being brushed and petted. As his personality is softening so is his coat.
Within the next few weeks, the CAPE staff will make the decision when to open Renegade's gate allowing him to fully integrate with his new found friends. That will be an exciting day, and we will be sure to post all the details on this blog.
Thank you for your support that allows CAPE to rescue and provide a loving home for animals like Renegade, who have special needs.
Remy and Renegade sharing a moment in the sunshine.
While he was at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, Renegade attracted a whole herd of advocates! Kathy was one of them. She helped to spread the word through the county and beyond, telling everyone about Renegade in the hopes of finding him a forever home.
Kathy has been a friend and supporter of CAPE"s for many years. She reached out to CAPE staff and told us about Renegade. She described how his guardian had passed away but not before making a final wish that someone take care of his horse, She told us about Renegade's personality - how he loved the company of other animals and people. CAPE staff also learned that Renegade suffered from Cushing's Disease and would need specific medical care for the rest of his life.
This past weekend, Kathy and her husband Ian came to the CAPE Animal Sanctuary to visit Renegade and to see where he will spend the res of his days. Enjoy the video that shows how happy they both were to be reunited.
When he found out he was dying, the man's only wish was for someone to give his beloved horse a safe home. The man passed away before his wish could come true. His horse, Renegade, a once wild mustang rounded up in Nevada by the Bureau of Land Management, was now 27 years old and sick with Cushing's Disease.
With his guardian and familiar pasture gone forever, Renegade ended up at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. They kindly cared for him for nine months. During this time, shelter staff, volunteers and members of the Santa Cruz community actively searched the entire country looking for a sanctuary where Renegade could find peace in his final years.
While at the shelter, the staff quickly learned that Renegade loved company. Although he could not see his fellow barnyard companions as their enclosures blocked their view, Renegade bonded with goats and pigs. His behavior would change for the worse whenever his friends were adopted, leaving him behind.
When the staff at CAPE learned of Renegade, we knew we could grant the wish of his guardian and provide Renegade with a new pasture he could call home. Arrangements were made and on an overcast morning, Renegade was transported from Santa Cruz to Grass Valley.
He weathered the journey and was soon walking down to his new pasture where the rescued donkeys and CAPE's ex-racehorse Remy were grazing. Remy realizing something was new, kicked up his hooves and tossed his head. He was making sure the newcomer knew who was in charge.
Renegade was introduced to a temporary corral where he would be made comfortable for the coming days until the time was right to integrate him with the equine herd.
Because he has been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease, Renegade will need monthly veterinary visits, blood draws and medication to stave off the symptoms.
You can be a part of Renegade's rescue and path to a healthy future. Please sponsor Renegade with a monthly donation. Your support will pay for blood draws, medications, special diet feed and veterinary care.
CAPE will devote this blog to Renegade's progress over the next few months. We thank you for your support and hope you will check back for more updates on how he responds to meeting the other equines; receives visitors who advocated for him; has his first veterinary check up, and more!
Thank you to Carol Hansen Dix and Therese Hukill-DeRock for the photos!
Special thanks to Staci Sanders for creating and sharing the video below!
I am so sad to tell you that on Sunday we said goodbye to Mary. On Saturday night, she suddenly started to not feel well and by Sunday morning she let us know that she was ready to let go. The vet thinks she probably started to have an internal bleed from the tumor that had extended into her abdomen.
It was such an honor and a privilege to care for her over the past six months. The first time we ever saw Mary, she was sitting in the back seat of a car of someone who had found her wandering the streets of Sacramento. In all of the 38 years that I have been doing animal rescue work, I have never seen an animal that was so emaciated. Every bone stuck out from her skin and she could not walk. Her face was sunken in from starvation, yet her huge brown eyes begged for help.
So we took her in knowing that she probably would not live very long. She was diagnosed with a very advanced anal cancer that our veterinarian said was inoperable. We were told to take her home, slowly start to feed her, and give her the best end of life possible. And that's exactly what we did. Our veterinarian predicted she would not survive more than a month.
But one month passed, and then another and another. And Mary made herself right at home in our house. She was fed five small meals every day plus lots of treats that she always ate with gusto. I feel so honored that she bonded with me very quickly. In fact, she never took her big brown eyes off of me. Wherever I was - there she was - lying on the floor next to my chair, watching me make her dinner, or under the piano as I fumbled through a Chopin nocturne.
I do feel that somehow, for some miraculous reason, Mary was meant to find her way to us. It's amazing how in just 6 short months, this beautiful, gentle being made her way into the hearts of so many people.
I miss you so much Mary. You will live in our hearts forever.
-JP Novic, CAPE Executive Director
Although Mary lives her days with bright eyes, hearty barks and mealtime enthusiasm, the reality is that she has an inoperable cancerous tumor in her abdomen.
The tumor continues to slowly grow. It's size is evident on her hind end, displacing the base of her tail, pushing it towards her right hip. The exterior tumor is the size of a softball but thankfully, Mary does not seem bothered by it. Except for some bleeding, her potty habits are healthy and unchanged.
Last April when Mary arrived at CAPE, because of her prognosis, CAPE's veterinarian suggested that she could live for a week to a month.
Yesterday, five months later, Mary trotted into the veterinary clinic for a check up. CAPE staff and our veterinarian agreed that we could learn so much from dogs - here was Mary, a dog diagnosed with the worst condition, yet her love of life and all the simple parts of her daily experience have brought her the gift of five more months.
Today is just another ordinary yet beautiful day for Mary.
It was a beautiful day on April 21, 2018 when Mary became part of the CAPE family. In the days that followed, she had a bubble bath to rid her of a flea infestation; visits to the veterinarian where she was diagnosed with an inoperable abdominal tumor; a nutrition plan of five meals a day that was developed to gently bring her body back from the ravages of starvation.
During her veterinary exam, we were told that she may have one week or one month to live. Here we are 16 1/2 weeks later, and Mary is nowhere near leaving this life.
Although the tumor continues to grow, Mary does not seem at all bothered by it. She carries on each day with an attitude that all is normal and good. She gets excited at her mealtimes. She is patient and calm with all people and dogs. She ambles about the house and outdoors without any pain or concerns.
Mary's daily life is a thing of beauty. And she is not interested in changing a thing.
Hardwood floors are wonderful when you have a home full of animals. They are easy to clean and look great too. But we noticed Mary sometimes had trouble keeping her balance, slipping and sliding as she moved from one spot to another.
Mary is not one to complain. And she never gives up. But to make her life easier and to add to the beauty of her experience, we decided to adorn her with her own set of cute running shoes.
They are not only very stylish, Mary's shoes have grips on the bottom to help prevent her from sliding across the floor. With her shoes on, Mary's confidence has increased now that she realizes how much easier it is for her to move about the house.
Enjoy these photos and video of Mary looking sporty with her new "kicks."
Although she is living in a CAPE hospice foster home after her diagnosis of abdominal cancer, Mary is able to motor around the house and the outdoors under her own steam.
Mary participates in all the household activities - barking at the UPS driver, joyfully partaking in her daily meals, napping with fellow elderly canines. Her energy has been steady although some days she is reminded that her body is not always able to cooperate.
The soft couch with the red blanket is Mary's favorite place to settle her bones. We have watched her pull herself onto the couch many times. But if a person is nearby, she emits a little "Boof" meaning "A little boost perhaps?"
Gently cupping her back legs, we lift her onto the blanket where she rests her head and closes her soulful eyes.
Recently a small, 10 lb. Chihuahua named Princess dropped by for a visit. She brought her own bed and left it in the living room where she could easily find it. Mary found it too. The perfect attribute to this bed was that she did not need a boost to settle in for a nap.
When you've known extreme hunger, every meal becomes a miracle. For Mary, her five meals a day are a wondrous experience.
Mary, although in hospice due to cancer spreading throughout her abdomen, has a healthy, throaty bark, and an excellent appetite. As long as she is able to continue "telling" us how much she loves her meals, and as long as she is able to relish gobbling them up, Mary's life is a thing of beauty.
We hope you will enjoy watching Mary readying herself for one of her meals, and the joy she has in making them disappear. We thank you for your support and for following her story.
Just like you, we have all come to love Mary. She has no demands, but she gives back affection, curiosity, tolerance, and a bark or two. Everyday she accompanies CAPE staff as they walk through the sanctuary, caring for the animals. It never fails that later we will find her curled up on the couch, her favorite red blanket tucked around her.
But Mary is slowing down. In recent days we have noticed that her energy is decreasing. The tumor on her hind end seems a bit larger. We worry that the cancer has spread further.
She still gobbles up her meals, and wags her tail while barking when her favorite people arrive back home. We know that the beautiful life being given to her has not gone unnoticed. Mary drinks it in daily, with Maya, her "hospice nurse" always at her side.
“Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."
~Dr. Albert Schweitzer