What started out as a tragic story ended with an outcome that you could only find in a children’s storybook. But for one little pony in Japan, his fairy tale definitely came true.
When torrential rains hit hard in Japan in early July, the rivers became swollen and flood waters overtook the nearby villages. As the torrents threatened to overwhelm a senior care facility, staffers had to make a tough decision.
Tough because there were some very special residents - at the Life Town Mabi aged care facility in the Mabicho district of Kakehashi - that they, unfortunately, had no way to save.
Living there was a pair of miniature horses that were performing an invaluable service to the center, serving as therapy animals for its elderly patients.
With no way to transport them to safety, staffers were forced to turn the four-legged friends loose in order to give them their best chance for survival. That was the last they saw of a nine-year-old mare named Leaf. The staff members were filled with sadness as watched her disappear into the rain-swollen river that had covered the farm where the center was located.
Everyone there assumed Leaf had perished in the surging torrents. And when their search efforts failed to locate her, they feared the worst. That was July 6th, and only when the floodwaters started to recede days later did they discover just how wrong they had been.
Mari Tanimoto, 49, who works at the center, said she was "shocked" when she got a call to say that Leaf had been found atop the roof of a private home, not far from the facility from which she disappeared. "Tanimoto said despite the difficulties she was so happy to see the tiny horse that she cried when they were reunited."
Getting her down from the roof presented a new challenge, but they managed to coerce Leaf with carrots to get her to a window through which they eventually were able to get her to terra firma.
The wayward pony looked no worse for the wear. Except for a new coat of mud and a slight injury to one of her legs, Leaf seemed to have survived her ordeal unscathed.
How she ever managed to end up on that roof remains a mystery, as residents swear that “the water levels never reached high enough to leave her on the roof.”
We may never know the answer to that question but, what we do know is that Leaf is now safe and sound back at the home that she so unceremoniously had to abandon.
To learn more about Leaf's amazing story of survival, watch the video, below.