var _informq = _informq || ; _informq.push([“embed”]);If Rudolph of rosy nose fame had gone to the Cornell University Equine and Nemo Farm Animal Hospital in Ithaca, N.Y., the doctors might have found a cure for that glowing schnoz, robbing him of all that glory.
For history’s sake, it’s lucky that he didn’t, but another reindeer, Little Buddy, is darn fortunate that he did.
Little Buddy and his reindeer brothers live on a farm in Shortsville, New York, owned by Mike Schaertl. Last month, 5-month-old Buddy became very ill.
Reindeer living outside the North Pole are vulernable to a number of tick-borne diseases, and Little Buddy had come down with Babesiosis, a potentially fatal parasitic disease spread by ticks.
“When I came home from work one day to check on Little Buddy, I noticed his urine was dark red,” Schaertl said. “That’s when I realized this was a serious problem.”
Buddy lost interest in eating and playing with his best friend and half-brother, Moose. By the time Schaertl was able to get Buddy to his vet and fellow reindeer owner, Dr. Michael Carey, Buddy’s condition had deteriorated.
Buddy had become lethargic and had a very high fever. He was transferred to the Cornell animal hospital, where Dr. Melissa Fenn, a resident in large animal internal medicine, worked to stabilize him and figure out what was wrong. She soon learned that a parasite was destroying Little Buddy’s red blood cells, making him severely anemic.
Buddy was treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit, but he continued to worsen. His anemia was so advanced there was an inadequate supply of oxygen being delivered to his tissues and organs.
“We were very worried about Little Buddy,” Fenn said. “Most reindeer that present to the hospital with this disease do not survive.”
If Buddy was going to make it, he’d need a blood transfusion.
Because reindeer are social creatures who gain comfort from being close to their herd, Moose had traveled to the hospital with Little Buddy. Not only was Moose able to provide comfort to Buddy, he also was the perfect blood donor.
Buddy was given a liter of Moose’s healthy blood, and within a day, he was able to stand and showed interest in eating. By the sixth day, Little Buddy appeared to have turned the corner. He was playing with Moose and no longer required oxygen. He had earned a ticket out of the ICU.
Although Cornell is equipped to treat large animals, Buddy required some special attention. The bars and grill work on the horse stalls would have proved hazardous to a reindeer with horns, so the hospital retrofitted a padded stall normally used for horses with neurologic conditions. The stall also was close to a door that could be opened to let the cool air in. Reindeer prefer the colder climes so box fans also were fitted above the stall.
“The hospital team was so creative and came up with a great solution to keep him as comfortable as possible during his recovery,” Fenn said.
After a week, Little Buddy had made a full recovery. The treatments, including Moose’s blood transfusion, had worked. He was more energetic, interactive and there was no longer any evidence of the organisms that made him sick.
After a week of TLC, Buddy and Moose were sent home, where friends and fans threw the pair a welcome home celebration.
With Moose and Little Buddy back in the fold, should Santa need another emergency replacement, Little Buddy and Moose will be ready.
Little Buddy, a 5-month-old reindeer, almost missed Christmas