On this day of giving thanks, I would like to pay tribute to my young grey dewlap toulouse, Spirit, who has enriched my life so much since he hatched on May 12th. The past spring, I purchased hatching eggs from a random ebay seller with Holderread show stock. The eggs were scrambled in the mail and none should have developed. But Pete55 taught me how to nurse troubled eggs while incubating and with Spirit’s strong fight to live, he made it to lockdown. At lockdown, when candling, there was an obvious leg positioning problem, but Spirit internally & externally pipped unassisted in proper position. Then, when it came time to zip, it became obvious Spirit could not rotate, so I assisted. When he popped out, his right leg was rotated and both feet were curled in fists. Yet, from the first instant he looked at me, I knew he had the determination to survive against all odds. I named him Spirit after the Disney horse, because it suited him perfectly. The next day, I raced him to the local vet and was told to wait and see if it resolves. Spirit could not stay upright and would roll onto back, so I stayed with him constantly, making sure he was ok. Most people would have euthanized him, but he had this amazing will to live despite his deformities. I had to help give him a chance at life if I could. So, for 5 weeks I took him weekly to the vet and otherwise did what I could to assist him along. He was making good progress, learning how to use his deformed limbs. Then, he started to fail and the vet told me to euthanize. Not willing to give up, I then went to a specialist vet…Dr. Scott Echols… who told me he could help. He began by stretching tendons on club foot, as well as transitioning him to live outside in a portable pen so he could always been in deep grass. Spirit began to flourish under Dr. Echols’ care. Dr. Echols advised me that we would likely need to correct his bone structure, but could not perform that procedure until he finished growing. We moved happily into fall and Spirit finished growing. But, with the dying off of the summer grass, he became less mobile on his deformed legs. So, on Tuesday, November 6th, Dr. Echols performed cutting edge corrective orthopedic surgery on Spirit’s right leg. Within 24 hours, Spirit was standing. Within a few days, Spirit began taking his first steps. As of yesterday, Spirit is again enjoying afternoons outside and getting stronger on his new leg every day. The process will be long and tough for Spirit. Dr. Echols anticipates it taking another 10-12 weeks to get all the hardware out of Spirit’s leg and for him to resume living full-time with the rest of the flock. But, the prognosis is good so far. Spirit has taught me that no obstacles are too great to overcome with determination, patience and a positive attitude. I look forward to seeing him running around outside on two good legs in the spring, making babies and being a happy gander. And I am thankful for his unconditional love and complete trust. He is an inspiration to me.