the heart of a champion:
the Story of Star Dancer & Her RESCUE Companions
Star Dancer was a champion, spotted saddle racking horse descended from equine royalty. When Star Dancer wasn't able to be a show horse any longer, she was put out to breed and horribly overbred. When she could no longer have babies, she was discarded again and sold to be a riding horse.
When I met Star Dancer, I instantly fell in love with this sweet, gentle giant. Her owners at the time loved her, but due to life challenges could not care for her. I knew I would do anything I could to make Star Dancer part of my animal family. On my birthday I held a fundraiser and bought Star Dancer so I could give her the vet care she needed right away. When I told people I wanted to adopt Star Dancer, someone said, "That's crazy. I give that old horse six months...'
But we knew better, Star Dancer, and I. She told me with her fierce spirit and her beautiful soul that she would stay as long as she could. And I promised her on the day she became mine: 'Every day you can stand, I will show up for you, no matter what." And with proper nutrition and specialized veterinary care, Star Dancer lived life to the fullest with me and her farm companions for several more years.
This courageous horse had nothing but love and compassion for everyone she met. She inspired me to foster, rehab and adopt other farm animals. And every animal who came to stay with us, whether it was for one day or forever, Star Dancer would try to mother them -- from goats to chickens, dogs and even people. Gentle beyond measure, Star Dancer stood still for her farrier treatments, loved her vet team and was so affectionate to all who knew her. In winter, by the light of the moon we would meet in the pasture. I would stand in the middle of the field and wait for Star Dancer to walk over to me. Silently she would appear at my side, nuzzling me as she did everyone, with her grand forehead and fuzzy ears, breathing great puffs of air into the night air. We spent hours together walking around the pasture, trailed by all of our other animal companions.
Over the years I adopted several other animals, including Bianca the rescue goat who arrived pregnant. When Bianca gave birth to her baby goat, we named him Flash. Star Dancer was so loving from her years as a brood mare, she tried to nurse him and we had to separate her from Bianca so Bianca could bond with her baby. The three of them became inseparable -- along with the doggies and chickens -- all of whom napped, ate, and meandered around the farm together.
After several happy years together with her hooman and animal family, our gracious equine queen let us know she had to leave us. At age 25 after her advanced degenerative disorder made mobility impossible, Star Dancer went down on Christmas night, never to rise again. The next day on December 26, 2020 at 10:14am she gained her wings resting in my lap, on her terms, surrounded by one of her loving veterinarians and all the creatures who loved her. Her two goats Bianca and Flash stood by her grave for days after she passed on.
Star Dancer will always be the matriarch of our family and remains our inspiration for all of us. She inspired a divine love in everyone who knew her. She loved each and every one of our animals. She was a loving presence to many foster animals as if they were her very own.
You never know what ailments might befall a rescue animal. Bianca arrived with a set of challenges, but none so difficult to treat as her precocious udder disorder. After weaning Flash, Bianca was unable to stop producing milk. What might seemed like a gift would eventually take her life. For years a team of loving caregivers had to milk Bianca almost daily. Goats cannot keep up with that kind of strain on their bodies forever and numerous vets tried to medically dry her up. The day came in January when Bianca could not expel milk. Too much scar tissue formed within her udders over the years, and they swelled to gargantuan proportion. Surgery was the only option despite the high mortality rate. Bianca underwent a radical double mastecomy at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine and Clinic. She survived, but had complications.
On April 6, 2023 Bianca lost her battle. She joined Star Dancer in Heaven, along with their favorite chickens Gabrielle, Betty Grable and Willie Pep, plus Blossom the Bunny who passed in 2007. They all watch over the rest of us here in the human world.
Today I am blessed to care for Bianca's son Flash. two terminally ill dogs Pixie (respiratory disease) and Dash (cancer) and my senior chickens, Tamago and Delores.
It has been such a blessing to play a small part in the rescue journeys of dozens of animals. My rescue journey began long before Star Dancer, in 1988 when I was just 18 years old. I'd stopped at a Huddle House in Cheraw, South Carolina on my way back to dance school for some late night pancakes. There I found a starved German Shepherd begging for food, nicknamed her 'Lucky' and brought her home with me. I rehabbed and rehomed Lucky, followed by everything from ducks, goats, bunnies, chickens, more dogs and horses. And as they say, the rest is history.
What I learned over these 35 years involved in animal rescue, is that I can help far more animals with my background in journalism and communications connecting animals in need with humans who can help them -- than adopting them myself. I'm so grateful that many members of our animal family are memorialized in features like Yahoo! News and Yahoo! life, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS and WRAL news.
Thank you for reading about my animals and our journey. Please consider supporting animal rescue efforts of these fine organizations. They are my heroes.
Hope for Horses
Renaissance Equine Rescue & Welfare Foundation
Wild Beauty Foundation -- Stand with Wild Horses
Yancey County Humane Society
NC State Pet Assistance Fund