Girl Scout Troop Thanks Vet College for Saving Favorite Horse

Many will give thanks for the blessings in their lives this Thanksgiving. For one family and a generous troop of Girl Scouts, their thankfulness will include the health of a horse named Denali and the "miracle workers" in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

Nearly every Girl Scout in Troop #5110, in Summers County, W.V., has ridden and adored Denali, the 9-year-old Arabian gelding owned by Troop Leader Gayle Rancer, her husband Mark Rosenberg, and their daughters Sydney and Layla.

In the year since he joined the Rancer-Rosenberg family, Denali has quickly become an integral part of Gayle's life. The horse has also become a favorite of Gayle's Girl Scout troop, so when early on the morning of Sept. 12 Gayle and her family found Denali on his back and in extreme pain, they wasted no time calling their local veterinarian, Faye Gooding, DVM, of Tri-County Veterinary Services.

Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, Denali's condition worsened. He kept collapsing, his heart rate continued to slow, and his pain became unmanageable. The family was soon faced with a very hard decision concerning Denali's future and well-being: should they consider putting him down and ending his misery? Or should they seek additional treatment in the hope he would be able to make a full recovery?

"The clock was ticking," said Gayle. "Denali was facing a life or death situation." After consultation with Gooding, they decided to attempt treatment. They loaded Denali into his horse trailer and raced towards the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg.

Upon their arrival, they were greeted by an emergency equine team that included: Dale Rigg, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS; Linda Dahlgren, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS; Virginia Buechner-Maxwell, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM; Erik Noschka, DVM; and DVM students Ashley Davis and Janie Dotson.

Denali, horse saved by colic surgery at VMRCVM

Denali, with owners Gayle and Sydney.

The team immediately took Denali for exploratory surgery. They found that his small intestine was wrapped around a large, fatty tumor. A 16-foot section of intestine was dead and would have to be removed, along with the tumor.

Denali was rushed into surgery while Gayle and Mark waited and hoped. Remarkably, Denali came through the surgery even better than expected. He even earned the nickname "Wonder Boy" from Rigg. Five days after his surgery, Denali was strong enough to return to his family and the girls of Troop #5110 in West Virginia.

"Our family is thrilled beyond belief to have him home, and (we are) extremely proud of his stamina," said Gayle. "His miraculous surgery has given us a grateful, appreciative and very happy horse. His surgery was major, and his recovery has required a lot of quality time with him. Our Thanksgiving gift will be watching him enjoy his freedom when we release our horse back into his pasture. We love this guy so much!"

The girls of Troop #5110 are also happy to have Denali back with them. To show their appreciation to the college for the care Denali received, the troop has donated a portion of the proceeds from their cookie sales to the college to help offset the remaining balance of "Running Together," the beautiful, bronze statue depicting a girl leading her horse that greets visitors at the Blacksburg campus.

"We are delighted by the contribution made by Girl Scout Troop #5110. It shows a great amount of initiative, compassion, and caring. Their character and generosity set a good example for all of us," said Amanda Dymacek, assistant director of development for the college. "What a wonderful way to say 'thank-you'."

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