Acquired: Rescue / shelter group
Posted Mar 14, 2014
When I was young I lived on a farm. For my twelfth birthday, I was given a donkey, promptly christened Monkey. Like I said, I was twelve! Monkey was a beautiful, affectionate animal, who quickly became pally with a couple of rescue horses on the farm. They were very nervous and frightened, but not when Monkey was around. He was a very calming influence. He also had delusions of being a sheepdog and learned to herd the sheep into their pens, which put the sheepdog's nose out of joint. He was very easy to keep, which was a bonus as far as my father was concerned. Grass was enough for him, although he did help himself to the horses' food on the sly. We had to make sure he wasn't too greedy, as donkeys can put on weight fairly easily. He had a special salt block to lick, which is important, since donkeys do need a salt supplement. At night, Monkey stayed with the horses, but his favourite place was out in the fields kicking up his heels. Occasionally, people would come and park a touring caravan in Monkey's field and he soon learned to stick his head over the half-door and beg for treats. He was always a great favourite with kids and adults alike and very gentle. He didn't at all mind giving the little kids rides on his back. Donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn, but I like to think he was just being thoughtful, you know, mulling over the situation. If you are tempted to get a donkey, think carefully about your requirements and what the animal is to be used for. Jenny's, the female donkeys, and gelded Jacks like Monkey, tend to be the best option if you are looking for a pet. Un-gelded Jacks should be avoided as they are very stroppy and can be quite vicious. A donkey bite is not a pleasant thing. Donkeys can live well into 20s and beyond and some have been documented as living as long as 50 years, so do also take their longevity in account. They are prone to many of the same illnesses as their equine cousins, horses. Also, make sure you check the spine, as they can suffer badly with back problems. Monkey lived till he was 26, by which time I had left home. My childhood was all the richer for having had him in my life. In the right circumstances, I wouldn't hesitate to give another donkey a home. One day, perhaps, I will.