By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
EXETER – When Ted, the enormous and friendly Percherson draft horse – who, with his brother, were stars of Wickford’s Christmas Festival of Lights and other local hayrides – died suddenly in mid-December of 2011, his owners, Jack and Julie Kliever were bereft.
Julie admits that she was so distraught by Ted’s loss she wasn’t sure she wanted to continue with their horse-drawn carriage and hayride business known as New Deal Farm. It was Jack who convinced her to go forward
“He said, ‘We can’t turn back inside ourselves. We love it; we can’t let the sadness define us,’ ”.
Meet Lenny, a snowy 12-year-old Percheron acquired from a woman in Stonington who could no longer afford to keep him. While she hated seeing him go, says Julie, the woman was glad Lenny was going to a good home and would have a job as part of a team and also a solo performer with the lighter carriage.
“It was serendipity,” says Julie of Lenny’s coming into their lives: They needed another horse for their business, Ed needed a buddy and, most importantly, Lenny needed them.
“Ted was silly and endearing,” Julie reflects. “Lenny is a sweetheart, a very level-headed horse. Ted and Ed were wide-eyed with wonder at the world. They were thrilled by everything.”
Lenny is much more business-like. “His attitude is: Let’s work,” says Julie. “He likes to visit and be petted; he’s very obedient and follows commands without my touching the line. He pays more attention.”
Moreover, Jack, a Newport police sergeant, will be riding him as the department’s mounted patrol in parades and at the funerals of veterans and first responders. Although the regal and massive Ted was a real attention-grabber in parades, Jack feels that Lenny, who is slightly smaller, will be a better riding horse.
He’s already taken him for a test spin.
Ed, meanwhile, has gone from the submissive brother to being large and charge. He’s become something of a bossy brat, says Julie.
After they’d sniffed each other over the fence initially, the two were allowed to be together. “Ed thought Lenny was an intruder and went ballistic,” Julie recalls. We immediately divided the pasture.” In fact, whenever they share space, a game of tag often turns into Ed kicking Lenny.
At meal time, she adds, “Ed goes out of his way to be aggressive, just as Ted did to him. It’s a period of adjustment where they’re establishing the pecking order. The first time we hitched them, they were fine together.”
In a curious turn of events, it develops that Lenny is from the same Amish farm in Ohio where the Klievers got Ted and Ed. “It’s not really that unusual,” Julie says, nothing that this particular farms takes horses from all over the country and trains them for sale.
Meanwhile, in other pet news, the little Lhasa apso lap dog, Zorro, who was lost for two weeks–walking all over North Kingstown before being found safe and sound–has been adopted.
A spokeswoman for Friends of Homeless Pets, the organization that rescued him, says, “Zorro was adopted by a single man in Warwick. He had been thinking of getting a dog for quite some time, and was really touched by Zorro’s story.”
The man’s mother had been one of the North Kingstown residents who helped search for the lost dog and, says the spokeswoman, “was actually there when we found him. She now sees Zorro every day to take him for walks while his new dad is working, so the whole family feels a real connection to him.”
She adds that Zorro is “is slowly adjusting to life outside a metal cage and learning that humans can be a source of love and comfort rather than pain. He has a calm, quiet and safe home for the first time in his life.”
The four-year-old dog had been rescued from a puppy mill out West and was in foster care in North Kingstown when he was startled by a noise outside and ran away.
Some homeless felines lucked out, too.
Three cats taken in by the Pet Refuge on Stony Lane after their elderly owner died also have also been placed. The cats were among about a dozen spotted by rescuers who went into the dilapidated house in Apponaug which had a falling ceiling and no heat or water.
An initial six were taken by the Pet Refuge and since then another has been trapped and brought to the rescue.
Renata Sager Daniels, founder of the Pet Refuge, says, “The gray one [nicknamed Romeo for his loving personality] got adopted.” One of the rescuers took the two oldest cats, a 15-year-old Siamese and a 12-year-old calico.
“We still have three – two Siamese and a beige and white,” says Daniels. “Another one came in with a big tumor in his ear that was infected. He had surgery. He’s so sweet.” She says the cat is about eight years old.
Three friends of the cats’ deceased owner – who had only learned of her death from a story in the Standard-Times – went to the shelter and made donations.
Besides these four cats, a bevy of others need homes. For more information, contact the Pet Refuge, 500 Stony Lane, at 294-1115 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN.