Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     I have been interested in that word – what it is and what it means – since I was a child on the farm.  When I was young, the suffering of animals was a constant concern – from the pet duck with a broken leg, to the baby calf attacked by wild dogs, or the horse with the sore foot.  What could we do for them that would help?  Would something create more “healing”?  Later, that intense curiosity about healing animals would lead me to wonder the same about humans…what heals us?
     I studied that subject in college for years.  Read books, took courses, listened to lectures, and all these years later, I’ve come to a place where I realize I haven’t learned much at all.  Still the mystery of healing is just that – a mystery.  Doctors cut things out and cut things off, and they can sew things back on, but something - or someone – else, performs the actual healing.
     I studied all those things and worked in that profession for years, yet I never actually was a part of any “healing” that I can remember.  Maybe a kind word or two helped some, but me helping someone heal?  Never happened.  Years passed and I gave up the quest.  Too complicated.  Then came the horse called Shine.
     The big gray came into my life, and at first, I knew he would be a great roping horse.  After a time however, I realized there was just one little problem…the horse was crazy.  He wouldn’t do anything I wanted him to – and he was unlike any horse I had ever seen.  Stupid horse.  Ruined all my plans.  I was so mad at him for the longest time.  Then came the awareness that this splendid creature wasn’t crazy – but rather the horse was suffering.  He was suffering from fear, and from abuse from long ago.  Shine needed healing.  Because he meant so much to me, I began my quest again.  Picked up all my old questions about healing and dusted them off…and tried again.  This time I found some answers.  Not in the university, but from life.  I thought Shine was sent to me so I could help him.  Turns out I had that backwards.  Shine taught me – more than I knew before, at least - about what I always wanted to learn…what helps us heal.
     As I look back on the events and the people who helped us so, I have come to the conclusion that these “healers” had one common characteristic.  Instead of telling me what I needed to do with Shine – as most “experts” always do – these good souls wanted to know all about Shine.  Where he came from, what had happened to him, and what did he do in certain situations?  They seemed not to be interested in any small misbehavior, and had little, if any, information about answers…but they were full of questions.  Questions about the horse, questions about me, and about our life.  From these questions, they devised strategies to help Shine deal with the world more effectively.  Took a long time, but my goodness – real and genuine healing came into the heart and mind of the horse.  Never been more grateful for anything in my life.  And now, we are in need of another healing.  This time with Rowdy…
     I noticed the small lesion on his right front paw a couple of months back.  Even though it was only about the size of a dime, it bothered me.  Took him to the vet sooner than I normally would.  Sure enough, the doctor was concerned.  After inspecting the sore, the troubled look on his face told me the news. 
     “Well,” he said, frowning, “there are worse things, but it’s not good.”
     He went on to explain the condition was called “lick granuloma.”  Begins with a thorn, bee sting, scratch - anything that punctures the skin.  Dog licks as dogs are wont to do, and the lesion begins to heal.  Then something goes wrong with the licking response.  Dog won’t stop licking; sore won’t heal.  The “granuloma” can get as big as your fist, and at some point, the lesion may decide to become malignant.  So after treating his leg for a time with no success, we surgically removed the lesion.  Even though the area was securely wrapped, Rowdy chewed the stitches out the first night.  More vets, second opinions, same song.  All were able to explain causes and reasons for the condition in detail, but when asked about how to heal, all seemed lost.  Eyes downcast, mumbling responses – they just didn’t know.  Then I met Scott Emerson.
     Scott lives in Tucson, he’s a writer and has worked in television.  He owned a dog long ago with this condition.  While searching for answers about healing his friend, Scott found thousands of pet owners struggling for the same information.  He has since become a clearinghouse of sorts for information about lick granuloma.  He sells “stay-put dog socks” and ointments to help treat the condition.  My conversations with him gave much more certain direction to Rowdy’s treatment, and I am so grateful I found him.  (If you have a dog with this condition, Scott’s website is www.dermapaw.com .)
     So now once again, life calls on me to learn more about healing.  I rub Rowdy’s foot every night, and put his “dog-sock” on.  He chews it off every night, and I put it on again the next day.  Like Shine, Rowdy has brought me back to an old question – what helps us heal?  Love helps.  Love can’t cure everything, but it’s always healing.  Love can’t make everything all right, but it’s always soothing.  I’ve learned a few more things about healing…
     I’ve learned that I’m grateful for vets, and for people like Scott Emerson.  I pray my efforts to help Rowdy will be successful.  I don’t know if they will be, but I do know when I’ll stop trying.  I’ll stop trying when Rowdy’s foot is well or…when one of us is dead.

                                                                                               --Michael Johnson

 Ed. Note:  In January of 2012, RFD-TV’s All Around Performance Horse TV, and Roping and Riding with Tyler Magnus, will broadcast the first embedded segment of The Advice Barn, a viewer call-in show hosted by Dr. Harry Anderson, with featured guests, Dr. Michael Johnson, and Dr. J. D. Norris.
The Advice Barn is sponsored by Total Feeds, Inc. maker of Total Equine, Dr. Harry Anderson’s creation of an all-purpose feed designed for the horse.  Total Feeds, Inc. sold thousands of tons of Total Equine last year.




The Rowdy Cow Dog


Healing Shine


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