A blind woman in New York has tapped into her life savings in a desperate bid to save her beloved guide pony’s life.
Ann Edie, 61, who has had the pony, Panda, for 14 years, began desperately trying to save the animal when her companion was diagnosed with an intestinal blockage last year.
Panda has undergone several rounds of emergency surgery — leaving retired Edie and her husband, Dennis, with vet’s bills of more than $30,000.
"She is so much more than just a means for letting me, as a blind person, travel smoothly and efficiently around my community. Her joy in her work and in her life always puts a smile on my face,” Edie told Caters News.
Panda, who stands at just 29 inches tall, has helped Edie live a normal life, navigating around her home town in Albany.
She guides Edie up and down stairs, around barriers in the road and even retrieves items such as keys.
Edie has adapted her home to suit Panda's needs, building a stall outside, where she sleeps at night, and training her to ring a bell when she wants to go outside.
The family’s saving has begun to run out, however. Thankfully, strangers have chipped in and donated more than $10,000 towards the campaign to save Panda.
Alexandra Kurland, who trained Panda back in 2001 and is a close friend of the pair, set up the fundraising to help with Panda's large vet bills.
Kurland first met Edie when Edie’s guide dog Bailey passed away.
"Ann was one of my riding clients. When Bailey died at the age of eleven, we decided to explore the possibility of training a mini using clicker training to be her working guide."
And Edie and Panda have been together ever since. Although it involves a lot of money, the family is willing to do whatever it takes to save the pony.
"The amount is unthinkable, but even more unthinkable would have been giving up and losing Panda,” Kurland said.