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Dobby's First Christmas 2008

Dobby At Six Months

Dobby and Family Christmas 2009
Welcome to Dobby's Page. We have come to know this as "Dobby's World." Our lives have changed since he came to live with us, along with his mother Ladybug and "uncle" Jingles the donkey. As Dobby grew, so did his problems that are unique to dwarfism. Each dwarf has their own set of problems, some worse than others. Our challenge was to cope with his ever changing body, and as his body grew, it in turn changed his deformity.

Dobby runs the show. Is he spoiled? You bet, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Dwarfs have a very short life span and we want him to enjoy it to the fullest. If you were to ask Dobby if he was upset by his handicaps or physical limitations, he would just look at you and ask, “What limitations? I am The Dobby! ” He is happy and does not know he has any problems at all. Life is fine according to Dobby. He has his family “herd” and home, he is happy.

Dobby was born April 26, 2008 and his problems began at birth. They became more noticeable as he matured and at weaning. He left his mom for a weekend to undergo x-rays and work up studies at the clinic where his auntie worked. Gammie was afraid that he and his mother would not reunite and a weekend with a frantic Ladybug was about all this Gammie could take. However, upon return, both mom and son were happily reunited.

Dobby’s test results were not what we wanted to see. He had extensive arthritis in his shoulders and front end from bearing more weight than normal in his efforts to move around. His mouth was permanently deformed and it was too late to break and realign the jaw. His hind legs were already fusing in his joints and he would end up with no flexibility for movement. So the challenge was, what do we do now?

Because of this we decided to make the weaning process less stressful, move him in the house to monitor him and give him company. So weaning took place the day after Christmas and Dobby moved into the house on a temporary basis. Right. When the weather improved in the early spring and it was time for him to go back to the barn, Gammie decided he needed to always be monitored,  so he now has a permanent palace in the dining room.   The little man has made himself at home.  He finds it relaxing to be with his other mom or just doze off in the living room.

There is very little research done on dwarf miniatures, mainly the contributions from the experiences of the individuals who are lucky enough to own one. Lucky because of the love and personality that they possess, but not lucky in the physical needs as they are a money pit. Anyone deliberately buying or breeding for a dwarf is quite honestly, crazy. You have to be committed and to be willing to care in addition to spend the money for their extensive needs, not just have a cute little horse.

Most dwarfs are put down or just left to die on their own with little human intervention. Many folks do not realize that they have a dwarf, and because of the lack of knowledge, the little guys do not receive the care that they need.

Through extensive trial and error, and many professional contacts, the best option for Dobby’s continual declining hind feet turned out to be the application of Vet Tech’s product, Super Fast. With that, Jennifer was able to build extensions on his feet that helped him to balance and navigate. Just putting an application on the feet is not necessarily enough. Each foot requires it to be in the proper position to benefit proper movement.

Every six weeks he has his routine visits from his chiropractor, Dr. Elizabeth Engel, to help keep him in alignment. His unusual way of waddling does keep him out of alignment in quite a few areas. Even so, he can get up and boogie in his own little way. A canter resembles a bunny rabbit hopping and his little trot will make you have to run to catch up. Since his head is misshaped along with compromised nasal passages, he cannot tolerate a halter and occasionally he will head for the big horses to spend a few minutes “visatating”.

X-rays in December of 2010 revealed that he has too many teeth trying to come into his too small head. As the adult teeth began to grow his face started to twist to one side. This caused him to eat a bit differently. Routine floating is required and his auntie Vicky covers this two to three times a year just to keep the teeth corrected and to remove any caps that do not want to come off on their own.       

March 2011 found Dobby in the desperate situation of respiratory distress. He was not able to breathe and was mouth breathing to get air. Rushed to NC State Veterinary Teaching Hospital he was given an emergency tracheotomy and admitted for diagnostics. X-rays and several endoscopes revealed a foreign object that resembled a cyst or tumor and collapsed left nasal airway. Laser procedures failed to remove the cyst and open the airway. Surgery was scheduled for March 16 after much deliberation of the many options available, with his two surgeons Dr. Jock Tate and Dr. Callie Fogel.

With Dobby being away for such a length of time, the house was empty and quiet. No shredded newspaper bedding around the house from where it had fallen off him as he walked around, and no little head trying to get into the tea mug when Gammie sat down for tea and cookies. No hot breath on the back of the legs at the kitchen sink while food was being prepared or dishes washed. And no little body helping to load the dishwasher and lick the plates as they are loaded on the bottom rack. Bedtime is always nanner time. The pile of bananas just seemed to call, but no little body to munch one down. It indeed was very lonely without the little man present.

Surgery consisted of removing a portion of the skull front and entering the sinus cavity to reach the nasal passage. It was found that there was a woody mass in the sinus that was not there in the December x-rays. Also the nasal passage was blocked from the collapsed nasal lining due to the intense straining to get air in the passage way while breathing. Removing the nasal lining and opening the blocked airway established regular breathing.  There was no need for a permanent tracheotomy. Dobby was able to go home after an 11 day stay in the hospital.     

At this time spring bloomed in NC and Dobby fell prey to allergies. He was put on allergy medications to help his breathing, cut fresh grass and ate in the house and kept inside. The higher the wind, the worse the breathing. Congestion in his head produced a large amount of drainage that required constant tissue wiping. His breathing became raspier, extremely loud and more difficult, along with coughing from the drainage. We became concerned for the other nasal passage if it too had also collapsed and the condition of the one just operated on.

On May 3, once again, Dobby went to the vet school for another endoscope performed by Dr. Jock Tate. He had company on this trip as he traveled with Sydney (see Sydney's Story) to see if anything could be done with her broken leg.  His right airway had become quite small and his breathing could be altered by repositioning his nostrils. The majority of his airflow came from his left nasal passage that was operated on in March. His trachea was collapsing and this is something that we will have to deal with at a later time. The decision was to remove the cartilage in both nostrils and in effect perform the “bulldog” surgery.  Dobby came home and Sydney stayed at the hospital.

The following week Dobby returned for surgery with his same two surgeons and surgical team as his previous surgery, and happily, all went well. He came home the same day a noticeably, much quieter, breathing little horse. It also was apparent that he was happier as breathing was no longer difficult due to the straining to get air up the passages. The difficulty that he experienced was much like drinking from a straw that gets clogged and when you suck so hard, the straw collapses.  Dobby's surgery was same day and both he and Sydney came home together.

He is recovering nicely. His little railroad track nose with parallel staple lines are adorable. His nostrils have a little flare to them which gives him class. The world of food has opened up as it appears that he can smell food much better than he did before. The little moocher is more aware of when something is available for consumption.

It is the middle of May, and Dobby has been out on a few nice days when the pollen count has been down. He seems to be doing well and has enjoyed being a horse. He is happy and his breathing is much quieter. He has also stopped snoring when he is lying down.

Summer is almost over and Dobby has gone through the hottest summer on record.  Going outside early morning and coming inside before the heat started, kept us busy moving him in and out.  On the nice days he was able to spend time with his mother Ladybug, under his favorite tree.    

Fall and winter treated Dobby very well, as it has been mild.  He was able to graze his little kingdom on the front lawn for quite awhile.  It is presently the end of January 2012 and his only problems are allergies as his nose started snotting up the second week of the new year at the same time his Gammie's nose decided to act up.  So together they keep the tissue box empty.  He keeps looking for grass and wondering when the fresh greens will start to grow.  When it is brisk he goes out with his heavy duty turn out, and if it is mild he wears his light weight jacket.  When his clothes are picked up, he knows it is time to go out and he comes right to the door to be dressed.  Some parents should be so lucky to get their kids dressed as easily as Dobby puts his clothes on.

Spring of 2012 started out with nice weather and ample rain, however, the rain dried up and the heat just poured out through the entire summer.  Dobby went outside when the weather permitted and came in when it became too hot. 

Every Sunday was bath day and he had his medicated bath on the front deck with the garden hose.  Gammie seldom missed one of the baths, but if she did he would still be scrubbed in the next day or two.  After every bath, Dobby would run around and do his little head shake and bucky bounce.  He just loved to be sassy.

Dobby has been kept body clipped on a regular basis to keep him cool, make bathing easier and keep his skin in better health.  Jennifer likes to give him a beauty makeover every now and then so he feels like the big horses.  Here his forelock, mane and tail are braided.  The bad left hind leg gave us some problems for awhile keeping the support off the hoof.  You can see from the picture that his leg is turning under his body and he walks on the side of the hoof. 

Fall came and the weather started to become too cool for a bath.  The dilemma was now how to continue with the bathing. It seems that the regular bathing helps his skin, as Dobby develops a wax on his coat which causes him to become extremely itchy.   Gammie decided to move Dobby into the shower stall and give him his Sunday bath with the warm water.  When he was dried off and blanketed, she would then get her shower.   The bathing became a hit with Dobby.  He loved the warm water and would walk into the shower stall all by himself without coaxing.  Matts placed on the floor helped keep him from slipping.  After his shower, he was still his sassy self.  Anyone walking in the living room would be fair game and he would chase them around in a game of tag.  Shaking his little head and bucky bouncing around, no one had dry eyes from laughing so hard.

Dobby's teeth continued to grow and his little jaw became more deformed,causing  his muzzle to twist to one side.   His teeth jutt out making him look like jaws the shark.  There are no options to fixing the problem as the teeth need to be chisled out to be removed making the possibility of breaking his jaw is too great.  Should that happen, Dobby would have to be put to sleep as the jaw could not be repaired.

Dobby is now four and a half years old.  We treasure every day with him.  He is having more difficulties breathing, as it takes a bit of effort for him to catch his breath when he gets up from sleeping.  He still rules the house, he tells you when he wants something and is very prompt at 11:00 PM to remind me that it is bannana time. 

Today is December 22, 2012 and we are waiting for Santa Dobby to deliver packages as he did last year.  I will be posting pictures in the near future.


 So for now, I am temporarily ending this post, but will add on his new adventures as they continue.

For additional information on medical issues or dental work related to dwarfism, contact Dr. Victoria Graham at www.bouncingwondersfarm.com

For additional information on hoof care for dwarfs contact Jennifer Graham at jlg@boundarywatersfarm.com

Dobby tries very hard to answer his emails within a few days with the help of his Gammie. Dobby can be reached from his webpage on www.boundarywatersfarm.com

Plans are to publish a series of children's books about Dobby and his adventures.  If you would like further information, please contact us with your email address and you will be notified about publishing information when the first book becomes available.
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