How I May Have Stolen a Donkey. And How He Stole My Heart

ImageI have been participating in a rather hysterical online conversation about kissing donkeys. The thread has been playing out in the Open Group for Bedlam Farm, an online community comprised of creative souls who also have wicked senses of humor. Come on now…it’s nothing kinky. We do not need to ask said donkeys to show us on the doll where the human touched them.

It was just a funny conversation inspired by a photo of people…well…kissing a donkey on the nose. This was followed by author and group mentor Jon Katz making a public proclamation that he is, indeed, also a donkey kisser. He kisses his donkey Simon on the nose every single day.

I too am very fond of donkeys. Jim and I share our world with a menagerie of animals and prominent among them are five miniature Imagedonkeys, one standard donkey, and one fabulous mule. All are very kissable. Jim might argue this point—the donkeys can be a tad mischievous and occasionally destructive—so let me rephrase that, “I” find them all very kissable.

Anyhow, all the talk about the smoochability of donkeys made me reflect on how my love of long ears was born. And it’s a bit of a tale.

Many, many, oh-so-many years ago, I lived on just three acres with just one horse and a rational number of dogs. It seems like that was a lifetime ago. In many respects, it was.

One warm spring day I received a call from a friend who lived on a horse property not far from my place. She was on a mission to save an injured donkey and the donkey needed to enter the witness protection program.

She believed he actually belonged to a neighboring ranch, but the donkey knew no boundaries and easily scooted beneath pasture fences in search of a better life. The little guy, a bit starved for attention, had always spent more time at my friend’s ranch where her daughters would hug him and where he knew he would be offered feed and carrots.

On this particular day, the little donkey needed help. He had shown up a couple of days earlier and had a very swollen, painful back leg. My friend (yes, names are being withheld to protect the not-so-innocent-but-very-caring) had called the ranch where she believed the donkey lived and left messages that he was injured, that he needed immediate help. There was no reply. There was no donkey ambulance dispatched.

At this point she believed the donkey was abandoned. If not abandoned, certainly neglected and she did not want to see him returned to his former home where his injury might be left untreated.

Would I rescue a cute miniature donkey? Do I really need to tell you my answer?

Of course nothing is really simple, is it? You see, neither of us had a horse trailer. And there were several miles betwixt point A and point B.  And the donkey’s leg appeared to be broken.

Ok. We were intelligent donkey thieves rescuers. We could figure this out.

So, we called a friend who had a small pickup truck. We backed the truck into a ditch and lowered the tailgate as a makeshift ramp. Perfect! What donkey wouldn’t want to hop right in to head off to a new and wonderful life?

This donkey.

Apparently an open-air ride in the back of a truck was not on this little man’s bucket list. So we slowly convinced (aka: pushed and pulled…ok, my friends pushed and I pretty much fell in the bed of the truck laughing hysterically), our little friend to make his way into the truck and quickly shut the tailgate.

Of course the donkey would not move to the front of the truck bed and instead insisted on leaning precariously on the tailgate. Could this be how you guys got a reputation for being a tad stubborn? You think?

We obviously couldn’t risk having the donkey flip out of the back of the truck as that would certainly defeat the purpose of rescuing him, so my friend sat on one corner in the back of the truck and I sat on the other. She sat on the corner with the butt-end of the donkey. I got to laugh a whole lot more from my vantage point with the front-end of the donkey (there is no photo evidence of this event…so it may or may not have happened).

You see, as our other cohort gingerly inched the truck onto the road, the donkey, feeling the motion, decided that he should sit down. And he did. On friend one’s lap.

Now, let’s paint this mental picture once again…we have a small pickup truck. We have a tiny donkey sitting on a woman’s lap in the back of said truck. We have another woman holding the donkey’s head with tears born of unrestrained laughter streaming down her (my) face.

Add to this little calamity the fact that we wanted to circumvent the ranch where our little runaway donkey may have (did) actually belong. Though the probable (actual) owner had been given every chance to claim his donkey and failed to do so, we still thought it might be a bad idea to parade directly in front of the ranch.

So yeah, we had to go a few extra miles out of our way with friend one’s legs losing all feeling. Miniature, yes, but he still weighed 250 to 300 pounds. This is kind of like Santa Claus deciding he should change things up and sit on the kids’ laps to hear Christmas wishes.

Oh and we could only drive about five to 10 miles per hour because in reality we (one partially paralyzed person, one sobbing with hysterics person, one very content, enjoying-the-ride jack) were all still in danger of flipping out of the back of the truck.

A drive that should have taken 15 minutes took well over an hour. It might have felt like five hours.

And we got looks. Lots of looks. It was not exactly a subtle getaway.Image

But we did get our little donkey buddy to his new/my home. I had a veterinarian out to check his indeed-it-was-broken leg. I gave the little guy a comfortable place to rest while his leg healed (which it thankfully did!), and so a new love for long-eared, loud yodeling, heart-stealing little equines was born.

So how did I end up with five more miniature donkeys? I bought him a girlfriend, of course. I’ll let you figure out the rest from there.

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Donkey Dad meeting his first son, Harry Ass Truman. To give you perspective, these babies weight around 30 pounds and can easily be held. They are the size of a medium sized dog.

donkey babies 2 (2)

Lulu with Stormin’ Norman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: In the event that you are reading this and find the story familiar…in fact feel sure I may have absconded with your miniature donkey…I assure you this is just another exercise in fiction writing. Yes. Fiction. And I’m pretty sure they don’t hang people for stealing broken donkeys these days.   

Woe is Me. Mow is Me.

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Here is our partially mowed yard and the remains of a completely destroyed dog bed. I call our riding mower Dear John because if he doesn’t start for me when I go out to finish mowing, I may break up with him. (For those who are not initiated into lawn tractor branding, this is a John Deere tractor, so calling him Dear John is funnier than you may initially think. For those who got it in the first place, I just over-explained.)

Mowing.

What emotion do you feel when you read that word? Dread? Reluctance? Resignation?

Me? EXCITEMENT!

You see, mowing at our house is a bit of an extreme sport. We have a sturdy riding mower. I believe in the country the politically correct moniker is “lawn tractor.” Yes, that sounds much more farmish.

For me, the whole mowing event kicks off by just getting the darn thing to actually start. There are these levers up by the steering wheel. You have to move one all the way up, and you have to move the other all the way down. I never remember which is which so I’m sure that doesn’t help.

I generally attempt to get the mower started by moving the levers every which way, turning the key about 1342 times while the tractor just says something like “Owwww. Owwwww. Owwwwwwwww.” Yes, it’s possible I am causing my inanimate lawn tractor physical pain.

At some point in this exercise I just start cussing and bouncing up and down on the seat because, yeah, that should help. Or I’m throwing a tantrum. And yes, I DO know Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.

So I hop off of the stupid tractor and stalk into the house to proclaim (once again) that the damn thing will NOT start. Jim quietly gets up, goes outside, and through some warlock voodoo, starts the tractor in one easy try. Magic. The guy is magic. One try.

Yeah, that might tick me off if I thought about it too hard, but there’s mowing to do.

The fun starts when you enter the dog yard (many people would call this a back yard, but ours is very obviously a dog play yard…or a war zone). This is where the simple act of mowing becomes an extreme sport. My lawn tractor kind of needs a seat belt and I kind of need a helmet.

You see, there are obstacles. First, our property grows rocks. I swear it does. Big, evil, lawn-tractor stalking rocks. They really do just pop up out of the earth willy-nilly (I have always wanted to use “willy-nilly” in my writing. CHECK!)

Beyond the naturally occurring obstacles in the yard, there are the traps set by the dogs. I would like to think that my dogs aren’t evil little lawn tractor poachers, but it’s hard to defend their innocence when they are all lined up in the giant back window watching and placing bets as I navigate their latest landscaping efforts.

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Here we have Brooke in the role of construction supervisor and Cookie is the sub-contractor.

My dogs dig some serious holes. It’s their yard…I let them have their fun…but someday, it’s entirely possible I am going to mow my way into one of their impressive pits to never be seen again. I checked on Google to see what is actually on the opposite side of the world from Mounds, Oklahoma and it’s the Indian Ocean. Great. My dogs are going to tunnel through and drain the Indian Ocean, thereby causing the mother of all floods in Mounds, Oklahoma.

I have photographic proof of one of their latest projects. Yes, there’s a whole Dalmatian in that hole. It’s not one of those little butt-only statues. She is, I believe, working on the media room. This hole already features three bedrooms, three baths and a lovely family room. It’s soon to be listed on Zillow.

Beyond these exciting obstacles there are other little and not so little land mines. In reality, the event of mowing the dog yard actually begins long before I fail to start the lawn tractor.

There is poop to scoop. So much poop. But it’s good poop (thank you fine folks at Fromm! Yes, I will continue to plug my favorite stores and brands on this blog. Fromm makes excellent dog food. Check them out.)

Then you have to gather all of the toys that could become projectiles if you mow over them (I may or may not have found this out the hard way). So many toys. What lucky, lucky dogs.

Then you have to pick up the remains of whatever the dogs last absconded through the dog door and destroyed in the yard. So many things destroyed.

That last bit may make it sound as though I’m a terrible dog trainer. I am actually a pretty darn good dog trainer. But just as the cobbler’s children have no shoes…and I blame the dog door… and some very crafty dogs.

Anyhow, there’s a lot of stuff to pick up in the yard before you can mow. My last dog yard treasure hunt yielded one used-to-be-a-good-dog-blankie-turned-tug-toy, one pair of shorts (unscathed!), one house shoe (slightly scathed, but I’ll still wear it), several socks (the mystery of how socks get lost in the laundry is forever solved in our home), one not-napping-on-that-again dog bed (took me a moment to even realize it once WAS a dog bed), and one half of my favorite bra.

Did this make you ask yourself the same question it made me ask myself? Where is the other half of my bra?

Before you nominate me for the title of Terrible Dog Mom of the Year, I can promise you one I’m not the only one guilty of this lack of dog supervision (I still say my dogs are extra-special-hyper devious).

As you may or may not know, in addition to being the crazy dog/donkey/horse/pig/squirrel/bunny lady of Mounds, Oklahoma, I also co-own a dog-centric business in Tulsa. Pooches is a dog daycare, boarding, training, and grooming facility—a busy, fun, furry place to work.  (On that furry note…between our house and Pooches, I think if I ever have to have my lungs xrayed, they will find a Pomeranian in there.)

In our line of work, let’s just say that we have been witness to some pretty amazing things being expelled from dogs, one way or another. I can’t count the number of times an employee has tracked me down to have me identify something nested in paper towels, held by rubber-gloved hands. It’s become a bit of a trivia game at this point. You really can’t gross us out.

We have found a string of beads, socks…many socks, bits and pieces of once-favorite toys, candy wrappers, and a few items that were never identified.

One day, not too long ago, a man brought his young lab mix for a day of play. As he was turning the dog over to one of our Rufferees (that’s what we call our daycare attendants…I made that up…love it with me), he mentioned that the dog had eaten a sock and though they had administered a hydrogen peroxide chaser to try to get the dog to “return” said sock, it had yet to appear. Could we keep an eye on the pup to make sure he wasn’t in distress? Could we please let him know if “something comes up?” Sure. We’re on it.

A couple of hours into the day, one of our Rufferees (that never gets old for me), came to inform us that our little labish friend had indeed expelled a foreign object. But it wasn’t a sock. It wasn’t a sock at all.

The object presented in the paper towel was red. And lacy. And teeny tiny. And likely once silky instead of slimy.

Uh oh.

So…it wasn’t a sock. It was a red, lacy, unmentionable. Now, this is not the first time we have found Victoria’s finest secrets in dog excrement or vomit (eating while reading? My apologies. You run this risk with me). But it WAS the first time that a husband told us to look for a sock that wasn’t a sock at all. So would HE be the one to pick the dog up or would his wife have that duty? Would we be faced with telling HER what we found?

This thought immediately begged the question as to whether this was her under garment.  Or was hubby unaware that some damning evidence had found its way into Rover’s gullet? OH, the plot thickens. Don’t tell me there is no drama in dog daycare.

Well, as fate would have it, the wife showed up to claim the dog and our ever-discrete and awesome manager, Lindsay, informed the young woman that her dog was fine and that he had indeed thrown up an article of clothing…an article that was not exactly the sock we were expecting.

The young woman started laughing immediately (oh thank the heavens!) and told us that her husband had been too embarrassed to admit that we should be watching for lacy red panties so he panicked and went with sock.

Laughter was shared, and another story was filed away that, thankfully, did not have a divorce court ending.

Which brings me back around to wondering about the other half of my favorite bra. My dogs are SO not going anywhere until that sucker surfaces.

Ok, off for another round of extreme mowing. Wish me luck.