When I was about six years old I declared, with great confidence, that when I was grown up I was going to have my own donkey.
Over 40 years later, on my 49th birthday, that declaration finally came true.
I had always anticipated that ‘my donkey’ would be a tame, already under saddle, quiet manageable type, however Jesus and Eeyore were two wild boys (literally). Taken from the herds in Central Australia, they had been brought to Brisbane to be dog feed. After a somewhat circuitous route (involving a natural health clinic, a friend from university, a previously unknown neighbour, a donkey refuge and a local horse whisperer) they ended up in my back paddock.
Taking on two wild donkeys proved to be quite a ride! The vet estimated that they were about seven and eight respectively, both were intact males, neither had ever been handled. What could possibly go wrong?
Local horse trainer David took them for a week. He quickly had them halter trained, at which stage the vet arrived and they were gelded. Gelding at that age carried some risks and Jesus had some post-operative complications that meant he and I were able to bond closely very quickly as he required some rather delicate personal care. It quickly became evident to me that beneath their wild exterior there were two sweet, gentle animals, who just wanted to be looked after and loved.
Rescuing wild animals is not a smooth road and I’m sure my neighbours enjoyed the entertainment. It is however a rewarding road. Jesus and Eeyore stole the hearts of all who met them and have provided endless material for amusing dinner conversations.
One day they escaped from their paddock. Just as I was reaching the point of despair about how I’d find and retrieve them they arrived home all by themselves, having navigated the local roads unassisted. They simply turned up at the front gate – yes, you guessed it, right at dinner time. Passing motorists were both amused and amazed to see them wandering casually home.
Of course it’s not without its challenges. Much dedication, patience and hard work is required and it’s important to remember that when taking on wild or rescue animals (they have a history which can impact on their development). Jesus and Eeyore also brought great joy and much laughter with them. The rewards have been endless.