My sister and her husband have eight miniature donkeys on their acreage northwest of Houston, Texas. Four jennies came with them from Canada, a jack was acquired in Texas, and three colts were born during the winter of 2011-2012. The intent is to breed the donkeys and sell the offspring, but the market hasn’t really rebounded yet from the 2008 economic meltdown.
I would never be able to sell my donkeys. Donkeys are sociable, affectionate and playful. There’s nothing like having Mercedes, the wary jenny in the herd, decide that it’s rather nice to be brushed–she tells you this by leaning in to you. Stargazer will stop eating her hay if you scratch her in the right spot. Dream Come True loves to snitch nibbles of hay as I carry the flakes from the barn to the feeding trough. Jes N’ Credible prances when my sister puts the halter on him to lead him across the lawn to the big side pasture with the pond.
It’s hard to say whether a donkey’s ears or muzzle are their best feature. Ears perk straight up when they hear their favourite humans coming and are soft with different colours of hair. Muzzles are warm and soft but kind of leathery, and not slobbery. They move in all directions like living silly putty and are whiskered all around with long hairs.
And then there’s the donkey’s bray. I’m not sure how it ever got interpreted as “hee-haw” in childrens’ books–it sounds like they’re inhaling on the “hee” and exhaling on the “haw”, all the while doing strange things with their vocal chords (hmm…are they actually vocal chords?!), repeating it in a pattern that is unique to each donkey.
For all of them (except the little guy we’ve nicknamed Wild Burro, who has yet to learn to trust humans), apple-oatmeal baked treats are the best thing in the whole wide world. Bring them out in a yogurt container and hold them high so no one sneaks a biscuit, and they will stretch their necks almost to your face, tug at your clothes, and push each other out of the way for a treat while they’re still chewing the last one you gave them.
Hearing a donkey’s ridiculous bray will tug at your smile muscles. Feeding them treats will have you grinning ear to ear! No therapy required if there’s a donkey or eight in your life!