Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Donkeys Decoded

It's almost impossible to write a post about the donkeys
with adorable pictures that follow the story line.
Unlike goats, who are always happy to strike a pose.

Donkeys, on the other hand, just don't seem to get the concept.
For example....

These two gals, sweet as pie, are the absolute most curious animals that I have ever had.

And so, if I am in their yard, crouched down with my camera...

they are right in my face,
or hanging on my shoulders.

Yesterday I did a little hoof trimming on these gals.
When we were finished, they started to show a little interest in their Jolly Ball.
Hoping to get cute pictures of them playing with it,
I settled down on the edge of their run-in shed and watched with camera poised.

It took all of two seconds for them to forget the Jolly Ball and invade my space instead.
See what I mean?

"Hey Mom, whatcha doin?"
Most of my donkey photos end up like this!

Four legged curiosity is always expressed the same way.

First.... a little wary inspection to make sure that said object is not "danger".

Tasting is always the next step...

I find that donkeys are a bit more wary of new things than horses are.
They take their time to investigate new circumstances.
Which is why I think they get a bum rap... "stubborn as a donkey/mule"
I don't feel that donkeys are stubborn at all.
It just takes them a while to ensure that things are "safe".

Perhaps this is because they are prey animals,
and have to rely on their wits to avoid danger.
They can run and retreat like horses, but are not quite as fast as horses.
So, perhaps this is why they are extra careful.

What I love about animal behavior is the fact that there is always a reason for behaviors.
It takes learning to think as they do and you begin to see their reasoning.

Mean spiritedness is not an inherent behavior in animals...
it is often just our perception or interpretation.
Essentially, they have good reason for their behaviors.
We have only to ask them....

My mantra, when I am with my gals is "be the donkey."
"Be" the donkey, and you will truly "see" the donkey.

Because some of you have expressed the desire to understand how our animals get along so well....
I will give you a little illustration.
First off....there is no magic formula, and I consider myself very lucky.

Historically, donkeys and dogs don't usually get along.
Again... donkeys are prey. Dogs are predators.

Mixing the two requires a lot of patience.
And oh, so much trust.
First and foremost, both animals must trust their handler.
What I have taught the dogs, when in with the donkeys, is to sit still and hold their ground.

I sit their with them, as security, and allow the donkeys to smell and taste them....
rewarding the dogs with my voice and strokes of my hand for sitting still and allowing this.
All the while, I also calmly speak to the donkeys and stroke them...
rewarding them for their patience as well.

The dogs have learned that if they run, the donkeys will chase.
It's a game.
I allow this game in the pasture, where there is lots of room,
but not in the yard, or dry lot which is the area that the equines consider home.

This area is off limits for chasing.
This is where the equines eat, sleep, potty.  So, this area is "sacred".
It is important for animals to have areas that are safe and secure.... where nothing is scary.
I think this helps to maintain trusting relationships.


  1. great post, wonderful pictures, terrific information..... thanks a bunch....

  2. You have the Farm made in Heaven! All animals are safe, secure and well cared for! I always enjoy your posts and stories!

  3. I am so impressed with your patience and knowledge. What you do is just fascinating and so right! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  4. Fantastic photos ! I love the last three soo cute ! I love all animals and their characters . Thanks for sharing . Have a good day !

  5. You are like a "feel safe whisperer". I loved this . . . those donkey faces are adorable . . . it is obvious all the farm animals feel safe with you.

    I hope you never sit in the wrong place . . .

  6. Sweet little donkey faces...who could resist those soft eyes? Favorite photos from this post: hanging on your shoulder and the donkey girls gathered around you and Sam. Priceless!

  7. I feel like, backing up, using a zoom lense and letting my goats act naturally, playing with with each other, works best to get good photos for me, otherwise, they act pretty much like your donkeys and glom all over me! Love the pictures of Sammy and the donkeys.

  8. My dogs learned early on that donkey play can be a little too rough for them to enjoy. They are wary of being in the same space as the donks so we let them out on the property separately. What I have found about the donks is that they observe something, then approach pretty confidently. I rarely see them take flight like some horses will, unless it's a blimp flying overhead. That can send a confident little donkey running for safety:-)
    Very nice post today about your sweet animals.

  9. ACK!!!! That picture of you all sitting down? Best picture ever!

  10. I love seeing you with your much loved animals! So sweet!!!
    xo Kris

  11. what a wonderful post. i just loved reading it!

  12. Why do donkeys get such a bad rap. They are gorgeous. I love seeing such different animals getting along. Respect is very important for all creatures. Best wishes, Tammy

  13. Oh Bev, the photo with the 4 of you together is so dear-it brought tears to my eyes! You truly are the animal whisperer and such a blessing! Thank you for sharing your daily adventures with us all! Hugs, Meghan

  14. i enjoyed this post. I love donkeys.

    Good job sharing donkey information...

    Great photos.

    Thank you for sharing.

  15. Hmmm, does this work with kitties? lol!
    Be the cat,,,
    Be one with the kat,,,
    feed the kat,,
    Clean the litter box...
    oh never mind,,, I forget, I am Their servant! lol!


  16. I remember trying to take their pictures when they were eating..That's just as bad...I got a little nip too..Any attention is welcome..Your animals don't get enough love....It's no surprise to me that everyone gets along so well..

  17. So very cool! I think donkey's are super special. Thanks for taking the time to share them with us.

    I had no idea that donkeys and dogs would not in nature get along but, I understand now and it makes perfect sense.


  18. I have been working on loan to another State Office, so internet access I have, but the unemployed would not like to see my favorite blog up while they are trying to find a job! So sorry to hear the loss of Old Roy!!! My goodness any loss of a pet is sad that is for sure. I love the picture of you, the girls and your doggy! So sweet...made my evening. My daffodils are blooming! Supposed to rain tomorrow, first time in a month.

  19. Now I know why Sammy is so patient with all the animals on the farm, I just thought he had the patience of a monk, but now I see exactly where he learned his special whispering skills - from Momma. Only a real farm girl would not hesitate to sit down in donket poo to talk to her animals.

  20. Do not get tired of seeing your photos. That wonderful thing to live with all these sweet animals


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