Put This on Fast Yak

If we have a right to expect Divine healing and health care, so does a classy gal who only came here thanks to the Dalai Lama.

I made a long haul from our home in Orange County California to meet Chitto (pronounced Cheeto). When I first met her it was love at first sight and I was crazy about her after she let me kiss the soft hairy top of her warm nose. She lived with her friend on a beautiful estate in the Yampa Valley with a spectacular view of the ski slopes above Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Chitto had a regal life on this elegant ranch with her own personal trainer. She might as well have been living at that other “Camelot” in Malibu overlooking Cross Creek and the Pacific .She still might have felt fenced in with Santa Barbara to the north, Santa Monica to the south, Westlake Village to the east and those riders coming in towards the beach, wave after wave from the west, but there, no one would have asked her to leave with them in a horse trailer!

Chitto was actually excited to climb aboard that extra long hauling machine with barely a goodbye to her loving family, but only because her friend Phyllis came with her and there happened to be a very handsome Star back there waiting to meet her. He was from another part of the state, Crested Butte and when he stepped into the midst of the viewing public people just hit the dirt. His self confidence and the way he was strong in body, but aristocratic in spirit made him both awesome and greatly respected by anyone who was graced with his presence.

We parked in several grand, but rural hotel parking lots, as we made our way across America to Pennsylvania, but I never slept in any of them. Instead, I snuggled up in a sleeping bag in the elevated manger where I could protect my three new friends and even climbed secretly down beside Chitto several times to lay my head on her shoulder for a couple of winks.

I purposely avoided the toll ways and took some of the lesser highways on this trip. Often cowboys or farmers would gather around my horse trailer as I gassed up and grabbed a drink. Unfailingly, when I returned to my truck, they would excitedly ask, “What kind of cows are those?” I always chose my words carefully, “Gentlemen, those aren’t cows: those are “hows.” The response was always the same. Simultaneously everyone would ask, “What in the world is a how?” “Well boys,” I would begin, “My horses got in with my cows, and I ended up with a bunch of hows!” Most everyone thought I was putting them on until I would refute their protestations with, “Hey, look at their tails.” I could depend on every onlooker’s mouth dropping open when they saw the more than fully filled out “horse tails” they proudly sported. Most of the time I quietly gave a half hearted shrug, mumbled a “well,” and left without ever saying these were Tibetan yaks.

Star is black with a white blaze on his forehead. He now weighs over 2 thousand pounds. Chitto and Phyllis are Royal yaks and all my royals have been much smaller than Star. There is a long story about the Dalai Lama and how the first royals got out of Tibet, but I’ll never finish this story if I tell you that one today.

Yaks turned out to be the hardiest, most efficient feeders, and large companion animals for wilderness trails I have encountered. I grew up on a farm in the 50’s. It was different then. Where we lived, farming was nearly disease and trouble free. Not so today, but yaks proved to be the exception. Disease and vet calls and yaks didn’t seem to go together until nine years after I brought Chitto from the Yampa Valley; she developed a protracted uterus (we thought). The protrusion beneath her tail extended at least one foot and was as big around and almost as hard as a coconut! On top of this medical emergency, I suspected Chitto was pregnant.

I called a friend who is a cattle expert and asked him to take a look at her while we waited for the vet to make her 50 mile trip. As soon as my friend saw her he emphatically spoke, “Man, you have got trouble. Protracted uterus!” All I could be glad about was that we both had the same visual diagnosis.

Thank God unlike us two guys the vet knew a rectum from a uterus. She had the correct diagnosis. It wasn’t Chitto’s uterus after all, it was her rectum! The vet spent two hours trying to get it back inside our poor yak and in place. Chitto had three shots to calm her at equal intervals. We were told there was some danger that she would not recover from the first shot; a likelihood her calve would die if indeed she was expecting from the second shot, and almost certainly Chitto would die from the final injection. Before the vet drove off into the night, she put an arm on mine and said, “Your friend and I talked. We could both see how much you and Yvonne are attached to her. It’s Saturday night and she won’t be alive at noon tomorrow. Your friend has agreed to put her down at sunrise if you don’t want me to put her down tonight. I asked the vet to wait for a moment before she left. I consulted with my wife momentarily and the two of us walked over to Chito and laid hands on her and prayed for her full recovery in Jesus’ name.

The vet left reiterating her sorrow that Chitto would be dead by morning and I thanked my farmer friend and explained to him that there would be no need to come back to put Chitto down. Every day Chitto gave us small indications that her overall condition was improving, but if her rectum was doing anything, it was dying.

Several weeks later, having done all I could, I contacted another vet. I suggested a complex surgery to remove any dead fetus and reattach the salvageable part of her intestine to her rectal opening while we had her open. We hauled her and left her at the vets far away from our home. As soon as we delivered her, the vet gave Chitto a local pain killer, removed her protracted rectum with a scalpel, and tacked the cut off end of her remaining intestine, in about four places to where her anal muscle once existed. He looked very down in the face. His expression said it all as he shook his head. He informed me he decided against the operation we had, I thought, agreed upon and told me to pick her up in a couple of days. She had no bowel control and was a sad, smelly mess.

When my driver and I arrived for Chitto, she was happy to see us, but the vet was still shaking his head in bewilderment. As I approached him, I asked, “She isn’t going to make it is she?” Still shaking his head he simply said, “No,” and added, “Let her spend these last days out in the pasture fields, Even if she could live, with no sphincter muscles to control her opening, her waste would just run out and the flies would eat her up.”

I was told when I bought her that Chitto meant “Speedy.” Chitto was never speedy but “happy” would have been an appropriate name for her during her first nine years. Now Chitto was Mopey not happy and before too many months, fly season would be upon us.

Star always loved Chitto as much as we did, but even though she was obviously thrilled to be in the same vicinity with him, she could barely walk and yaks, especially Star, love to run at times. Sometimes Star likes to run a hundred yards increasing in speed like a shaggy locomotive with tail high in the wind, and whiz by me so close I can feel the draft. After this he will disappear behind me only to bear down on me once again. Although his horns, hoofs, or weight alone could kill me, we both know this is his way of telling me, “I could crush you, you know I am one intelligent, attentive, powerful guy, but I like you. We are real friends.”

Days became weeks and week’s months. Several neighbors were commenting that they never saw animals as tough as yaks. Chitto seemed to be, far from her once normal self, but recovering little by little. One day Star came thundering up behind me and swung back to repeat his game. A moment later, I heard those hoof beats streaking towards me again. Just so you know, I am not so brave as to think Star could never be having a bad hair day and not swerve when I expect him too, so I always use my peripheral vision. This time, by the sound of things, Star was really stoking. Just when I expected him to breeze by, I was stunned to see Chitto, not Star, flying more joyfully and faster than I had ever seen Star streak across his little green universe. I finally understood that Chitto certainly meant Speedy whether or not that was in the language of men or angels.

Since God made all these specialized body parts, you’ll forgive me for talking about them so much, but He answered another prayer when someone who operates a sanctuary for large animals contacted me about obtaining a yak. I told her I only had one free one. I explained that we were going to sell or adopt out all our animals except for house cats, because of my temporary blindness and my many operations. I revealed Chitto’s medical condition and that she had no way to control her bowels and fly season could be deadly. Chitto had, God be thanked, experienced a long and now “Speedy” recovery from all her difficulties except she still lacked “closure.” The sanctuary operator, who had always wanted a yak, was thrilled to take Chitto anyway.

I call this sanctuary operator from time to time to inquire about Chitto. By the way, with the help of the Lord Jesus, Chitto has a creational miracle; she has grown a new rectum with fully operating sphincter muscles! My friend from the sanctuary’s e-mail in regards to Chitto’s condition reads: “Chitto is very happy and has no problems with her bowels or rectum.” I always knew she was perfect!

Postscript: The Philadelphia Zoo is helping us find the right adoptive home for Star. If you might know anyone who would be interested, ask them to e-mail us at [email protected] We will not release him unless they meet specific requirements. Thank you.


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