Here at Gallastar Equine Center, we are witness to many miracles. Because we use horses and other animals as co-therapists to assist in the healing of wounded children, our "miracle pets" work their magic for many. Not only have we witnessed miraculous healing in our clients, but also some of the animals themselves are walking testament to the healing powers of love. There is Gus, the golden retriever, who had a rib transplanted to replace the forearm that was cruelly destroyed by a hunter's bullet...and a long parade of horses and dogs and cats and animals large and small who somehow gave back to us more than we could ever have given to them. But one miraculous story comes from the most unlikely of animals that joined our family last Easter. His is the story of a lost soul that found a home, a family re-united, and the promise fulfilled.
This past Easter, an emaciated little potbelly pig tried to join our herd of five horses that reside on a nearby farm. I was elated because I had wanted a pet pig since I was a little girl. Although I had many horses, dogs, cats and even goats as a child, a pig was one of the few things that my parents denied me. After numerous attempts, it was obvious that the wily little animal would be impossible to catch. He would fly into the woods at the first sight of any would-be captors. I knew it was only a matter of time before the large dogs that roamed the countryside made a meal of him. One Sunday morning as I tried to befriend him with grapes and apple bits, I witnessed a neighbor's stallion try and trample him to death. In a state of desperation and despair, I burst into tears and almost resolved to let fate take its course. My Easter vacation would be over the next day and there would be no one to protect the feisty little pig. Then an idea came to me and I asked several young volunteers to help me lead the five horses from the neighbor's farm to ours. The little pig trotted proudly behind the horses through the woods and across creeks. Once we finally made it to our barn, he fell exhausted beside some of his horse friends and slept like a little rock.
My husband built a pen adjacent to the barn and we lured him into it with food. The newly named Ranger threw a fit when he realized that he was now a captive. He threw himself against the fence with everything he had. One of his horse friends came and stood with the dogs and me in an attempt to comfort the little creature. As smart as he was, he finally realized that it was futile. Over the next few weeks, I managed to gain the trust of the intelligent little guy. Soon, we were fast friends and he was ready to meet the children.
Ranger soon became a favorite to some and a valuable lesson in tolerance and stereotypes to others. The story of his escape from a bad home, his tribulations in the wild, and the happy ending he now enjoyed touched those who had first hand knowledge what he had been through. To others, it was disgusting that a pig would be eating lunch with them after their horseback riding adventures. The jovial little pig taught them that the stereotypes they had heard about pigs were untrue and that they shouldn't judge someone without meeting them first and getting a chance to know them. In his own happy way, he taught lessons that went far beyond the usual lunchtime etiquette with a pig.
Because I am a schoolteacher, it was all too soon time to go back to work after a busy summer of horses, kids, and my best pal Ranger.
I was worried that he would be lonely without the kids and me to keep him company during the day and resolved to find him a friend. Because we knew that he had a porcine family nearby, I set out to find them. Once I did it became obvious why Ranger had run away. I found his mother, sister, brother, and a tiny piglet locked in a filthy little pen without fresh water and an occasional meal of grass or rotten tomatoes.
His brother, who was the same age, was so skinny and no bigger than Ranger had been months before. Hunting dogs were tied to trees and it was a miracle in itself that Ranger had been able to make his escape. With actual begging on my part and a king's ransom paid, Ranger's family came home with us.
With the family re-united the story is complete except that there is an even deeper meaning to me. Twelve years earlier I had flown home to be with my family for what would end up being our last Easter together. My parents had sold our farm and were moving into a condo. My life was in a shambles and this Easter celebration that had always been my very favorite, seemed unbelievably sad to me. As I sat on the swing that hung from the 200 year old Live Oak that we had all loved for so long, my mother came up behind me. Sensing my sadness at the many losses during what had always been my favorite day of the year, she promised me that someday Easter would regain its special place in my heart. A few months later she died of a heart attack and I forgot about the Easter promise. The significance of Easter still had great meaning for me, but until the fateful Easter Sunday that the little pig trotted into my life, that special feeling of joy had been absent. Ranger has changed that now.
I don't believe that it was an accident that the brave little pig found his way to our home or that he showed up when he did. My life has been deeply enriched by this wonderful new friend and the many messages that he has brought to us all.
Gallastar Equine Center