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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jethro the donkey gets a Hanukkah present

Tuesday, this brainstorm: Darrah, the little girl who lives across the railroad tracks from me, really really loves Superman, while I don't like him at all. Nobody here likes him. Why should he spend his life without love? So I called Darrah's dad and offered him Superman for free. He was flabbergasted: just the previous day Darrah sat on Santa Claus's knee and said, "all I want for Christmas is a pony just like Superman."

He began setting up fencing - he told me later: "I got it up without either of the kids noticing! Even though Darrah was home sick from school! I fixed it so she was mad at me and didn't want to come outside!" My friend Mitzi got Superman a huge red bow for his mane and my neighbor will be coming in the dark Christmas morning - "Darrah is going to faint with excitement." A mitzvah.

Meanwhile, having Superman meant I hadn't gotten Jethro a companion he would really like: another donkey. I thought long and hard and then searched Craigslist until I found a listing for a "small jack" in Rocky Mount. Next day I drove up and visited him. He was living next to a tiny brick house with his mom, some geese, a few dogs, some free-range goats, a draft horse, and five or six guinea hens.

His leg was hurt recently when he dropped down to wallow ("you know how they do" said his owner) while in a "Living Nativity Scene" -- he got himself scratched under the manger -- but the injury is healing nicely. I handed over the cash. (Hannah mused that the donkeys in unreal Nativity Scenes rarely wallow.)

Then I asked my friends on Facebook to help name him. 48 comments later (!) I chose the name Hector suggested by a high school chum.

His owner delivered him Thursday morning. Hector is pretty friendly to strangers but has never been anywhere so doesn't "get it" about being led. He had to be kind of shoved along till he caught sight of Jethro, eating breakfast.

I liked the idea of a "small Jack" because I wanted a guy considerably smaller than Jethro (since Jethro is such a neurotic coward and I didn't want him feeling threatened), yet not as small as a dwarf (mini) donkey.

Hector is perfect - he's a cross between a small white standard mom and a mini white dad (that must have been a sight to see); the owner was hoping for a white baby but "man plans and God laughs." I guess that's why Hector (who's nine months old but full grown) was so inexpensive.

I imagined he'd be a trembling ball of nerves, but he marched right up to the fence and started pulling Jethro's breakfast hay out of the bathtub through the netting.

Jethro was astonished but his attention being divided (breakfast occupies his mind most of the day, especially when it's in front of him) couldn't decide what he thought. When I brought Hector into the pen, they sniffed each other carefully and then Hector chowed down while Jethro hid behind a tree and watched.

Eventually they decided everything was fine.

I wish I'd had a night-vision video camera last night: when I let Ezra's dog Julius out for romp, he streaked over to the donkey enclosure and commenced to herding the two of them frantically in huge circles. He barked and he raced 90 miles an hour while they loped, flank to flank, their hooves striking the ground with loud dusty thuds. I could see all six eyes shining in the light of my headlamp. Round and round they went.

Eventually the donkeys got tired of it and stood together watching the dog bark; then Jethro lowered his head and charged after Julius. It wasn't a fair match, because Julius can run out of the enclosure when he's being closed in on; also, his turning radius is MUCH tighter.



At 8:34 AM, Blogger pete said...

I love the article.. thanks


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