Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bittersweet New Year

"Prepare yourself," came the apologetic voice of Dr. Miller at the other end of the phone line, "Argus has Internal Pigeon Fever."

Suddenly numb, I sat down at the kitchen table, the vet's words tumbling through my brain, half comprehended, like a rude splash of ice water. Around me, the cheerful trappings of a happy Christmas on the farm seemed to float through the air. I hunkered down quietly in a chair, listening. This phone call, this news, was the culmination of an unsettling few weeks with Argus in which he never seemed to fully recover from a brutal autumn of illness. I'd watched him trot listlessly around the pasture and was troubled. A vet appointment was scheduled. Something was not right.

But then, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, a series of frantic phone calls to summon Dr. Miller. Argus was no longer able to lower his head to the ground. He was running a fever. He had a strange swelling behind his scapula. He was very sick. Dr. Miller looked sympathetic as he collected some blood, gently airing his suspicion of every California horse owner's nightmare: a rogue form of Pigeon Fever that sets up inside the body, lurking dangerously alongside internal organs. Internal Pigeon Fever.

Here in California, Pigeon Fever, or "Dryland Distemper," is a common occurrence in summer and fall; this year, it's everywhere. Horse owners share sympathetic moans of complaint as they swap their Pigeon Fever stories, subtly one-upping each other. Vets scratch their heads, proclaiming it "the worst year I've seen in 30 years of practice." A bacteria that's a kissing cousin to that which causes Tuberculosis invades the body, traveling along the lymph system and setting up shop in muscles, the result being fist-sized abscesses surrounded by a thick fortress of fat, the body's way of walling off and expelling the unwelcome visitor. What follows is days or weeks of fever, swelling, a really sick horse, and a giant abscess that breaks open into a spectacular eruption of pus and blood. But it's not generally considered life threatening.

Less than 10% of horses go on to develop the internal form of Pigeon Fever, and of those, I'm told only about half will survive. Those with a compromised immune system receive a guarded prognosis. Argus is a horse with a compromised immune system. Heck, just about everything with Argus is compromised.

And so, Argus is in the fight of his life. He is very sick, and only time and love and months of an arsenal of powerful (and ghastly expensive) antibiotics might save him.

I took this picture today, an effort to be humorous. Argus is enduring injections of Naxcel twice daily. He's also receiving a drug called Rifampin, which is famous among Those Who've Treated Internal Pigeon Fever. The veterans, and the vet, describe Rifampin as "that horrible red stuff that gets on everything and stains your clothes." I was baptized last night, just shy of the stroke of midnight. And again today (see my face). A mouth syringe, a polite-yet-struggling white horse, red goo in my face, eyes, and mouth.

It's easy to be sad about it all; the odds are not that great. It pains me to think that I might lose him. But I'm choosing to be as positive. I'm choosing to believe that Argus will make it. This horse is a survivor, and if anyone can beat Internal Pigeon Fever, it's Argus.


In this, the first day of the new year, I am choosing to believe in hope, and miracles, and rainbows that appear on the darkest of days. God willing, Argus will see every sunset of 2009. I will do just about anything to give him that chance.


Please keep Argus in your thoughts and prayers. He needs all the good wishes he can get.

Added January 2, 2009:

A few have asked me about helping with the cost of Argus' medication. Normally, I would not accept such help, but in the face of costs of $3,000 for antibiotics alone over the next 2-3 months, any assistance would be humbly accepted.


Directly to vet:

Katie Moore's account for "Argus"
Sonoma-Marin Veterinary Service
1120 Industrial Avenue, Suites 13-14
Petaluma, CA 94952

Added January 4, 2009:

Thank you to everyone who donated to help offset the cost of Argus' medication. In just 48 hours $1050 was raised, and it will go a long way toward purchasing medication. At this time, I ask that you do not donate further. Thank you so much for relieving a tremendous financial burden on my family.

Katie Moore


Rose said...

Argus is in my prayers. He has overcome so much already. I will keep you in my prayers as well.

SkyBar Farm said...

My prayers to you and Argus. He will pull thru, he is a survivor. I have often called Naxcel, liquid gold. I generally pay $80 a bottle, hopefully the price is not much more for you. Well wishes to Argus. He has been such an inspiration to me.

SOSHorses said...

OMG Kate! Of course you have our thoughts, prayers and all the love and healing energy we can send your way. We believe in Argus too. He will be okay! He has to be okay! When one horse is loved by so many he is special and he has to be okay!

Please don't leave us wondering long, keep us informed.

cdncowgirl said...

**jingles for Argus**
Like you say Argus is a survivor, but I'll still pray for him (and you)
Please keep us updated.

Jessie said...

Prayers for Argus. So sorry to hear about this :-(

Kim said...

Oh shoot, Katie. None of us who have fallen in love with Argus want to even think about him being sick. But I can tell you, if EVER there was a horse with a lot of positive energy coming his way, it's Argus. I believe in miracles...after all, Argus ended up with you, didn't he? :) You and he have my special prayers tonight.

Sport's Mom said...

Poor Argus! I know how hard it is to face possibly losing a friend and you are handling it like a champion. I totally freak out every time something's wrong with one of my "kids" and I always end up bringing everyone else down with me. I admire both your positive spirit and Sweet Argus' will to live. May your wish for him in 2009 come true. Plenty of kisses and scratches for Argies.
My love, thoughts, and prayers

Cactus Jack Splash said...

We are sending jingles, prayers, and everything else we can. Hang in there Argus we need you around. After reading about his amazing journey it is clear he has a lot more to do.

Anonymous said...

OMG Katie and Argus.... please keep us informed as often as you can.
I know I check here daily and will be worrying about him.



Lost My Marbles said...

Oh, no, Katie!!! Thanks to your beautiful writing skills, I think a lot of out here in cyberspace feel like we know Argus so well, we can almost hear his nickers and feel his soft coat. We just plain love him. I know I do, even though I'm here in Missouri.

I wish I could get on a plane and be there to help you with the "nasty red stuff." Hopeful thoughts and prayers will have to do.

Come on, old boy, you've been through so much! Be good and take your yucky medicines, and keep that spark. You are needed and loved by many!

barrelracingmom said...

Prayers being sent your way.

Faith said...

my thoughts are with you and argus. please let us know if we can do anything for you. Or to help out with the cost of his medication.

Mom said...

My love and prayers for you and Argus. Both of you have been through so much. You are both an inspiration to all who face hard times. Lots of positive thoughts surround you both now.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I will be sending you and Argus good thoughts for his full recovery. He's a tough guy and a survivor. With the expert care and love he gets the odds are in his favor. Good luck.

caryn said...

Jingles and good wishes for Argus and family. Argus is a miracle all by himself and he will recover. Try to keep up your spirits, Katie. Argus will fight this with you.


Lori Skoog said...

I just heard about Argus and hope that he will turn the corner soon. Those leaving comments seem to think he is a survivor and you must too. He is so lucky to be with you...and I would do the same. He deserves to have years of quality time in his life...such a handsome boy. I will go back and read about him.
My very best goes out to both of you. Many people are burning candles for him.
I will be back to check on him regularly.
Lori Skoog

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry Argus is sick. He is such a special horse and we all love him dearly. I'm sure if any horse can pull through this he can.
Argus and you all will be in my prayers.
I'll check back often for updates on him.
take care,

PaintedPromise said...

oh Katie i can hardly type through the tears... that poor boy, after all he has been through... but his will to live is truly an inspiration and your willingness to care for him is another... so like you, i CHOOSE to believe that he WILL come through this trial as well as he has the others in his life...

i can't help a lot but i will send something your way...

excaliber813 said...


My deepest, heartfelt thoughts and prayers for you and Argus. Your positive attitude will let Argus know you are in this fight with him! He has achieved so much in this past year, thanks to your love and devotion, and his strong will to live. He is a SURVIVOR!!

Love and prayers,

Donna said...

Heartfelt prayers for you and Argus -- I've been in love with you both since you first brought him home.

excaliber813 said...

I started a candle group for Argus
I am not sure if the link will work?

Anonymous said...

I believe that Argus was sent to his very own personal guardian angel a year ago December 8th - so he is already in the most capable of hands. I will send my prayers for Argus and all the family at Watermark. And I will also send some funds for Argus since that is something that I can do. I send big hugs to everyone from me and a sweet nuzzle from Katie the horse in Colorado to her fuzzy and human foster family in California. Thanks for all that you do - you & your family are an inspiration to us all! From Katie's (the horse) Colordo Mom

Anonymous said...

I don't know you or Argus but I'll be praying for you. I'm sorry you're going through this.

KD said...

My prayers and a small donation are with you and Argus -

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I am so sorry to hear this news. I will pray for Argus. He is a much loved horse. After all he has been through he deserves a long and happy life. I will go light a candle for him. If any horse can beat this ... he can.

Anonymous said...

I just read the pdf file on the fever. Just a thought ... If young foals may be protected by colostral antibodies, might there be a benefit to adding a colostrum supplement to a horses diet to help the immune system?

excaliber813 said...

Sending thoughts and prayers for Argus, and you Katie. I will send a donation as well.

Blessings to all,

Sydney said...

That is so terrible. Isn't there a vaccination for pigeon fever? It doesn't happen in my area. Well distemper does but not that kind and the horses are vaccinated for it because we have coons/cats/possums/skunks around that have had it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Katie and Argus--------such painful news to read today. Candle site for you

checking on my $$ and hope to send your way. Argus has the best of all care, now, as he struggles with this latest challenge. Just wish for better news, as I struggle with this pain. He is so loved by so many-and he is a strong boy!


One Red Horse said...

I read about Argus a couple of days ago and can't keep from thinking about him. And you. Healing thoughts for both of you. Argus may have a compromised immune system yet he has an uncompromised will to experience and survive.

susan said...

i am sending my most powerful juju to you, argus.

excaliber813 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
excaliber813 said...

Argus, Just so you know, you have many, many angels out here thinking of you with love and prayers.Your Mom and Dad are right there for you every step of the way. We all know you can pull through this "bump" in the road, you have so much more to share with us!

Love and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Sending prayers and healing for Argus!!


MyTwoPonies said...

My thoughts & prayers are with you & Argus. My sister and are avid readers of his blog and she emailed me immediately to tell me our favorite white horse was very ill. I am almost in tears :-(
You both are such an inspiration to so many people.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you have thought of this but just in case I had a horse recovering from surgery long term on Naxcel found it online for about 54 dollars a bottle my vet wrote a prescription,,had it sent was charging almost $100 a bottle...think it was KV vet supply? Thoughts are with you and not be discouraged..I have always won a battle like this one... I think devotion and following the vets instructions to the letter really change the odds for the better !!!

kbryan said...

Sent you $50 towards his care, sorry it is not more. Truly, no matter what happens, Argus is where he needs to be right now. Bless you for all you have done.

kbryan said...

Please see the message thread started on Alex Brown's site for Argus.

I hope we can all donate a little something towards Argus' care.

excaliber813 said...

When going to ABR- forum It is under the folder- Vigils for healing, title: Prayers needed for Argus:

copy the above addy and paste in browser.

Love and prayers for you Argus!!

Anonymous said...

i have been silently following your beautiful story of argus' journey since the beginning and with this news felt the urge to send some well wishes for the first time. i strongly believe in the power of positive thinking and it seems with all you have done for argus(and he for you) he is in the perfect place to recover.

looking forward to good news!

Schnitzie said...

I write you with tears in my eyes, Katie. Sending so much love and healing juju for Argus. I am visualizing him bathed in golden-blue light -- gold for strength and healing; blue for purification to make every cell of that nasty contagion leave his body. Every breath he breathes in brings cool blue exhales browns and dissipates into the winds.

I will meditate on him tonight and tomorrow morning. I will send him all my loving, healing energies... And I'm also sending some very material gold to help you with these costs.

Love you and Argus sooooo much.
Andrea/Schnitzie from Brooklyn

Anonymous said...

I have added Argus to my prayer list at church and on my Angel Therapy group. We are all sending prayers, love and healing to Argus!


Sydney said...

Perhaps this article will help. You need a membership but it's free and always full of a wealth of information.

CTG Ponies said...

I am keeping Argus in my thoughts and prayers. You have made such a wonderful difference in his life!

Tatia said...

I've just found Argus this morning. My husband has hrmphed a bit as I have spent most of this Sunday reading his story. I actually read it backwards, from beginning to present, and laughed and cried the entire time. Many times, I'd either laugh or say 'ohhhh nooo' and eventually my husband even began to show an interest and would say 'what's happened now'? He laughed when I read him the part about you deciding to adopt Argus for good as I had already predicted it. My 4 yo daughter has sat on m,y lap for much of the day, as well, intrigued with Argus and his friends.

My heartfelt wishes and prayers for Argus. I've lighted a healing candle in his honour. Thank you for sharing his incredibly story. No matter what happens, I'll always be grateful to have 'known' him.

excaliber813 said...

Just letting Argus know I am thinking about him, sending healing thought's & prayer's his way.
I wrote this post in response to Katie's "The Fourth Season" blog entry in October:

So many seasons of change for Argus. How my heart grows fonder with each and every post. A "slightly tattered white thread" has woven it's place into my heart.

and just to add-- there you will stay!
Thank you Katie for giving Argus the very best chance possible.


Amber said...

Poor Argus, hope he makes it.

Rifampin is awful, my son had to take it when he was 2, and it makes his tears, pee, and sweat red. Nasty stuff.

Anonymous said...

Just as that rainbow points down to earth near your farm so do I visualize an arriving vortex of caring human energy focused on Argus---the once-lonely little white horse who now is known worldwide. Katie, you have my thanks for such caring and I hope this energy spreads to all neglected horses everywhere.