CONNEAUT, Ohio - Former nurse Michele Marshall has tended to animals in Conneaut for more than 12 years. Her love for animals injured by abuse or other tragedies is at the forefront of her mission on her small farm, Storybook Acres.
Her animals seem to sense her devotion, following her everywhere she goes. Any animal, except for Maggie, a large, hungry pig who is blind, can get plenty of exercise just following Marshall for an hour.
One of Marshall's animals is Thelma Louise, a 12-year-old goat who has battled brittle bone disease most of her life.
Thelma has very limited use of her front legs, spending most of her days happily lying on straw tucked in her favorite stall. A wheel chair made specifically for Thelma by an Amherst, New Hampshire company, HandicappedPets, that has given her a new attitude, and much needed mobility, for the golden years of her life. That's a life that typically lasts 10 years. She's already beating the odds by two years.
Being the first goat to receive a wheel chair isn't a bad way to ride into the sunset, when she's ready.
"I had a wheel chair designed for a small sheep we had in January, Joshua, who had severe physical problems, unable to sit up. Handicapped Pets made us one for him. We didn't know if he'd live for a week or 14 years so that's how the concept started," Marshall said.
"So, we sent them Thelma's measurements, because she is much larger. They sent it and we tried it out, and she just loves it."
Marshall uses her goats' milk to make products, but relies heavily on donations and grants for her no-kill haven. Marshall said she has sat with every animal who has passed away there and each one is dear to her heart.
For information on Storybook Acres call 440-228-7990, 440-335-4019 or go to: www.storybookacres.org
For information on HandicappedPets call (603) 577-8854, or go to: www.HandicappedPets.com
Updated Correction: HandicappedPets is located in New Hampshire, as opposed to New Jersey, as previously mentioned in the video version of this story from interview information in Conneaut.