Hollis - Our Earth-Bound Angel

Rescue Story

Baby donkeys must be little angels right before they are born. Sent back to earth for some reason, they are pieces of perfection and full of pure love. I can guarantee that statement to be true if you let Hollis be my example.

Dr Love met me at the door of the A&M Large Animal Hospital in College Station early this morning. My original intention was to pull in the parking lot and grab an hour’s worth of sleep before our 8am appointment. On the road at 4am, I was too excited about seeing Hollis to waste time.

Moments later I was in the stall with Hollis and his mom, and absolutely amazed at the little guy that stood before me. It was medicine time on that wing of the hospital, and Hollis stood in perfect attention as his trach tube was cleaned, medicine squirted down his throat and a thermometer stuck up the other end. Mom stood watchfully, munching on hay. To all appearances, things were normal in every way.

For an hour I played with both Hollis and his mom. Dr. Arnold had yet to arrive and Dr. Love had a lot of other horses to watch over. This was our time to be together, and Hollis wasted no time in getting me to “scratch here … now over here … let me smell your hair … I like the taste of your shirt…” Momma decided that I was probably more interesting than the hay, so the game restarted with her competing for attention.

Hollis and his Momma at the Large Animal Hospital at Texas A&M. He is indeed the most adorable baby donkey you will ever see.

For those of you who missed it, Hollis’s story began just a few weeks ago. His Momma was found wandering, pregnant and starved in Austin, TX. The good people of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office picked her up. Not too many days after, Hollis was born. He was named after a Senior Deputy, Jessica Hollis, who died while checking low water crossings during a severe storm in Austin. Soon Hollis developed breathing difficulties and the Deputies rushed them to Elgin Veterinarian Hospital, just a few miles away.

The vets performed an emergency tracheotomy so Hollis could breath again, but realized they didn’t have a scope small enough to see down his throat. Phone calls were quickly made: yes, Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital would take them – yes, the Sheriff’s office would transport and finally – yes, Habitat for Horses would help with the vet bills and accept responsibility for them. You can read more of the story here – and the updates here and here.

Back to this morning – Dr. Arnold and Dr. Love stopped by the stall, ending my playtime. Now it became serious, with a viewing of what they found before and after surgery. After 20 minutes of talking and watching, it comes down to this – There is an unusual growth in his throat, the surgery didn’t do anything and the trachea has a tendency to collapse if he tries to breath without the trach tube.

There are options, none offer a perfect cure, none really offer joy and happiness in a few days. Maybe, just maybe, the trachea will get stronger as he gets stronger (remember, he’s only a few weeks old). Maybe that extra tissue will change – maybe.

It requires intensive care, meds, infection control, vet techs. It also requires air conditioning, dust control, all the things that hospital has available. It requires time – maybe by this time next week… just maybe if we give him a little more time…

Or is it time to draw the curtain closed? That was the question that hung in the air. The discussion was over, time to make a decision.

Hollis was hopping around in his stall. “You’re back! Let’s play! Watch me!” He bounced around his mom, full of energy, his eyes sparkling.

“Another week,” I told them. “If you guys agree, let’s do one more week. We need to give him that.”

I’m not going to ask you for donations right now. Sure, we need money to pay for his care and yes, this is going to set us back a lot. Intensive Care is expensive, especially at major equine hospitals. That isn’t the point of this post.

This is about how very precious life can become, how human babies, little kittens and perfect donkeys don’t always grow up like they should and how they depend on us, you and me, if they are to have any hope at all.

This is about how we sometimes stand in judgment about life and death. Is there a chance? What if…? And in the moment of doubt, we chose life because we know, far beyond any doubt, that their precious, sweet souls deserve every chance at seeing another sunrise.

~ Jerry

POST DATE: 10/17/2014