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
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.
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.