- Associated Press - Saturday, October 18, 2014

FREMONT, Ohio (AP) - It’s a friendship that could melt even the chilliest of hearts.

Taz, a 28-year-old rescued quarter horse, and Jabba, a rescued goat, won’t go anywhere without the other. They spend their afternoons grazing in the pasture and their evenings in the same barn of their new home in Fremont. They love to roll around in the mud and chase one another as well, no matter how many baths they get.

The two are very protective of one another. Jabba often puts himself between a visitor and his much larger equine friend. While having hoof work done over the summer, Jabba became distressed and began to run all over the pasture. Taz, sensing his small friend’s panic, became agitated and made things very difficult for the people working on him.

“He’s just watching out for his friend,” owner Rodney Kusic said. “They’re the absolute best of friends. They have their fights, but they’re always together.”

Kusic and his wife, Diane Lenke-Kusic, run DeeDee’s Feline Angels and Friends, an animal advocate and rescue group in Fremont, and rescued Taz from slaughter last November.

The couple had been rescuing cats for years but had never had a horse and weren’t sure what to expect when they heard about Taz. Kusic said the brunette horse was down to about 800 pounds and was sickly and fearful.

“I honestly thought I would have to put him down. He was in such bad shape,” he said.

But the animal lover decided to put his energy into helping Taz and slowly began to see the horse perk up, gain weight and respond in a positive manner. He now weighs about 1,100 pounds and loves to run through the pasture in rain or shine.

“He’s got such a personality,” longtime volunteer John Royster said while feeding Taz treats on Thursday. “He’s sneaky and gives you attitude sometimes, it’s funny.”

In the spring, the group made the move from a family home in Oak Harbor to a small farm in Fremont, and with that gained more pasture room for Taz, Jabba, another rescued horse named Monica and the chickens and cats the Kusic’s have rescued and care for. They spent several weekends building the stalls for the animals and a cat patio.

Kusic said the day they unloaded Taz, Monica and Jabba into their new pasture was life-changing.

“He just took off right away, he was so happy,” Kusic said. “He absolutely blossomed. It made my heart sing.”

But with the years of neglect that Taz suffered under his previous owners, his need for dental care has come at a steep price. Kusic noticed Taz was clicking his jaw and seemed to have sensitivity in the back of his jaw, sometimes affecting the way he ate or how he interacted.

“Those teeth in the back continue to grow and it’s making things very uncomfortable for him,” Kusic said. “The veterinarian said he would have to be anesthetized and have two teeth extracted and others power-floated.”

“He’s not in any danger from it,” Kusic said. “But we know it would make him feel a lot better.”

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Information from: The News-Messenger, https://www.thenews-messenger.com


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