The book “Different But Not Less” by Temple Grandin, is a compilation of inspiring stories of success and achievement, from people with autism. These stories beautifully relate how people overcame challenges in their lives to become successful. One commonality in each story was the individuals who were always by their side believing in them and helping them strive to be the best they could be. The idea behind the title “Different But Not Less” can transcend to animals as well. Every animal born with challenges is able to thrive because of people who see the difference, but chose to focus on the ability instead.
Cane, a warm-blooded horse, came into this world as a rescue; even before he was born the odds were stacked against him. His mom, Candy, came to Hooved Animal Humane Society (HAHS) as part of a six-horse intake through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA had rescued Candy in January 2016 as part of a 600 animal hoarding case in North Carolina. The birth of Candy’s foal should have been a joyous one as she and her foal were finally safe. Heartbreakingly, the joyous birthing moment took a turn for the worse as Cane was not born the same as other foals. He was born with a severe overbite which left untreated would significantly interfere with his ability to eat, not to mention Cane would be in tremendous pain. Rescuers made a decision to face Cane’s challenge head on as they believed, if treated, Cane was young enough to recover from his congenital adversity and lead a normal life. Although Cane was still a nursing foal, they believed treatment needed to begin as early as possible to give him the best chance for improvement. Rescuers said, “Cane is full of joy and energy! He loves meeting people and is working hard to learn his manners while around humans. Cane is very curious and is going to grow up to be a big, beautiful gelding. He deserves the chance to live a life as joyful as his personality.” Dr. Katie Lukas, Hooved Animal Humane Society’s main veterinarian, initially examined Cane. Photos and x-rays were sent to an equine dental specialist at Midwest Equine Services. The specialist indicated Cane would be a good candidate for an incline plane as he was at the perfect age to start treatment. Cane would need to wear wires for at least 6-9 months and would require rechecks following the initial application which would be done under general anesthesia. The cost estimate to treat Cane was in the thousands. However, the dental specialist indicated treatment would lead to, “a very functional result for this foal.”
Rescuers did not let the cost of treatment deter them from fighting for Cane. Jenna at Hooved Animal Humane Society reached out to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and an Emergency Medical Grant for Animals was awarded to assist in alleviating the cost of Cane’s treatment.
Cane was brought to the University of Wisconsin’s Madison Veterinary Hospital in June 2016 to undergo dental surgery. Braces were put on his upper teeth to correct his severe overbite. Wires, with a plastic coating to protect his mouth, were attached to his back molars and extended to his front incisors. The wires were put in place to slow the growth of his top palate while allowing normal growth of his bottom palate, resulting in the front incisors properly aligning. While under anesthesia, Cane was also castrated. He returned to HAHS four days following surgery. He had some swelling on his cheeks requiring hot packing to reduce the swelling. Cane received antibiotics and pain relieving gel for the first seven days after surgery. HAHS told ISF, “Cane recuperated very well and he began eating, drinking, playing normally and enjoyed going outside with his mom Candy.” Until his braces were removed, he needed to have his mouth washed out daily to prevent any food buildup around his braces. Cane received checkups every 1-2 weeks, consisting of taking pictures of his incisors and sending them to the Veterinary Hospital. An equine dental specialist viewed the photos to inform Dr. Lukas whether Cane needed additional x-rays or if he needed to travel back to the hospital to replace or adjust his braces.
After 7 months, Cane’s braces were removed. X-rays showed his back molars were aligned and some of his front incisors were touching.
HAHS had this to say to ISF, “An overbite is one of the worst things to deal with because it effects how horses eat. We were lucky Cane was young and we were able to correct his issue with braces. Cane may not have the most perfect mouth, but a least he will always be able to eat comfortably and can go on the have a full meaningful life. Cane is now being considered for adoption to qualified adopters through adoption applications. He places a lot of trust in humans and he will be great for whoever ends up making him part of their family. Cane is such a sweet young horse and we are happy we got him the help he needed.”
Cane’s life may not have been saved had his rescuers focused solely on his difference rather than on his ability. Cane was given a chance at life all because people believed although he was different, he was not less.
The Ian Somerhalder Foundation is delighted to have been a part of Cane’s successful journey.
Written by Theresa Blangiforti
Edited by Bob Stone