Donkeys do live up to their reputation of being stubborn. However, it’s important to note that a scared donkey stands still while a scared horse will run. That is typically the difference between a dangerous accident and an inconvenience. So if your donkey has planted his two front feet defiantly perhaps it’s because he is scared to do as you ask; or perhaps you have not been trained on proper donkey etiquette. You must ‘ask’ a donkey politely and calmly while offering a handful of grain. You must not appear hurried or rushed because they will sense your urgency and dig their heels deeper to become more resistant.
Basically, if you own a donkey you already know – you don’t train them, they train you. It’s a ‘Quid Pro Quo’ relationship that requires a handful of grain for every transaction.
Donkey’s are the cross between a Golden Retriever and an overfed, lazy cat. They love to be scratched, will follow you around, and enjoy food like a Golden. While at the same time they exhibit a sense of independence like a cat, and enjoy to bask in the sun like a cat on a window sill.
They are exceptional around children, much safer than a horse. For those nervous helicopter parents, a donkey is a safer choice for your princess than an ornery pony. You can take them for walks. They aren’t going to buck your child off and run for the hills – they are more likely to put their head down to eat grass. Most have big lips which they use delicately to eat carrots from small fingers. They have have evolved personalities with a clever sense of humor unlike any animal you have ever met. My donkey seems to get great pleasure tipping over the wheelbarrow when it is full of manure and I am not looking.
In addition to being curious, slightly deviant, super-cute & cuddly, Donkeys are very hardy animals. They don’t get sick, and when they do its usually because they are very old and ready to die. Donkeys are so quiet and docile, it’s hard to even notice when they are not feeling well. The last thing for them to lose is their appetite, which is usually the first thing to notice when a horse is sick. By the time they lose their appetite and you notice they are not feeling well whatever is ailing them is likely too far advanced to recover. I have had an old donkey hours away from crossing the rainbow bridge, unable to stand, barely able to breathe, but still able to eat a carrot from my hand.
The bad news about donkeys is China loves donkeys too. Well, actually just their skins. They consume 1.8 Million donkey skins per year. Worldwide demand for donkey skins exceeds 4 million. While many might find the skin of a donkey valuable for medicines and skin care products, the Equine Rescue Network finds that the whole living creature of a donkey to be the best pet EVER.
We have volunteers that visit the ‘back lots’ at the killpens in Kaufman, Texas and Bastrop, Louisiana. They send us pictures of donkeys and we try to find funds and homes. The back lots are small paddocks of horses and donkeys that are ‘direct to slaughter.’ While some lucky horses at the killpens will be photographed and posted online for sale by rescuers, those in the back lots will not. Often the backlot at Bastrop will have 20-50 donkeys waiting their fate.
The Equine Rescue Network will purchase ten of the donkeys from the killbuyer and ship them to Virginia. ERN negotiates a discounted price from the killbuyer because we buy a large volume. This price is usually between $150-$250 per donkey depending on size. Then we pay $125 for shipping and $40 vet fees which includes wormer and antibiotics. Untreated donkeys are prone to lungworms which cause pneumonia.
When the donkeys arrive in Virginia they are typically thin, scared and wild eyed. They stay in quarantine (at $5 per day) for as long as they need. ERN posts donkeys looking for homes and helps new homes arrange transport.
Some of the donkeys are wild and unhandled. These donkeys just require someone to sit patiently with them, hand feed them and help them learn that people can be trusted. That process can take a few days or a few weeks but 100% of the wild-scared donkeys turn into friendly, trusting companions.
It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to take a rescued donkey and give it a home. Many people get stuck on the fact that the donkeys are scared, or too big, the wrong color, or not halter broke. These people don’t understand that regardless of the temperament, size, color, or training that given time, none of that will matter. All that will matter is your donkey will look at you like you are his lifeline – because you are. YOU saved him and he will know that – and he will forever be grateful. Donkeys are smart like that!
SO before you write a check to purchase a registered miniature from a breeder, consider saving a life. Check out ERN Homes Needed first?
ERN does not require adoption fees on donkeys. Instead we ask for you to give the donkey an exceptional home and consider donating back to ERN so we can go save more donkeys.