By Beatrix Linde —
World Animal Day was on October 4 and countries all over the world held events to honour, remember, and pay tribute to animals. World Animal Day came into existence at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy in 1931. The idea was a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. This year over 500 events are being planned globally to bring awareness to the treatment of animals. Spelling bees and poetry contests in Africa, treks in South America, and marches in Jakarta are just a few gatherings that will occur.
…our standard donkey was so sad and neglected I burst into tears when I met her.”
In my own life, I have some of these beautiful creatures. My husband Howard and I have five donkeys, three horses, a pony, a llama, a dog, a cat, and seven chickens. There isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t entertained. All of these animals were forsaken. No one wanted them—but we did. The donkeys in particular came to us struggling. Jenny, our standard donkey, was so sad and neglected I burst into tears when I met her. Chico the Genius, one of our minis, was so scared that when any man came near him he would run or tremble with fear. I am happy to say that four years later with the help of classical homeopathy, the Feldenkrais Method, and lots of love, gentleness, patience, hugs, and kisses they are themselves.
Chico the Clever, Ashley, and Clover came next. Yes, we have two Chicos and I distinguish them as clever and genius because they are. When Chico the Genius first came, I could not call him cute or sweet, or he would literally turn and walk away. If I whispered that he was brilliant, smart, and handsome, he rewarded me by putting his head against my body as a hug, or tug on my clothes to get more attention.
Who says animals are dumb? Quite the contrary, and donkeys in particular get a bad rap for being stubborn. The stubbornness is curiosity and self-care. They want to observe everything and will stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Donkeys will not hurt themselves. They will pick their way through the best path that they can find and will not move if they are being put in a dangerous situation. This is something we should learn as humans.
Our other adventures with this group include family walks. We put Jenny on lead and the rest follow. There is nothing cuter than a little train of donkeys heading down a forested trail one right after the other. I like to break out in song to the Seven Dwarves’ jingle, “HI-HO, HI-HO, it’s off to work we go!”
Speaking of songs, everyone’s favourite is Happy Birthday. How can I tell? Their eyes soften, they blow gently out their nostrils, they turn their heads more towards me, and they relax their bodies. They sing to us as well. I don’t even have to look and I know who is braying. Clover the littlest and the loudest with her Model-T Ford , Arugggaaa, Arugggaa! Jenny is like a balloon that you slowly let the air out of to make a high pitched squeak. Chico the Genius sounds like a lonely foghorn. Chico the Clever is deep and breathy, and Ashley’s is truly, a ‘hee haw, hee haw.’
Angel, the llama, used to like that 80s song, which I only know one line to, “Just call me angel in the morning, baby!” Now he likes, “ Hark the herald angels sing!” When we rescued him, we had no idea how to look after a member of the camel family, but we quickly learned how well he took care of everyone else. First, he bonded with Milk and Honey, the pony he came with, and then he began taking care of the donkeys. Llamas are known as the Silent Brother by the Incans for their calm and quiet companionship. Our Angel is that and more with his distinct call warning of something unusual in the yard, or when he has a dust bath in the woodshed and the dust that comes out of there looks like a tornado, or when he decides to gallop and swing his long neck from side to side.
Once in awhile we get what we call little donkey rodeos. Frisky and feisty, the donkeys charge around each other and through the trees with the occasional fart, all so funny and delightful to see them happy and healthy.
It is a blessing and an honour to be with and look after these animal beings every day. I have the love and capacity to welcome more, any day. People have asked me, “What do you do with them?” My answer: “Love them.”
Beatrix Linde is an artist, farmer, teacher, and stay at home mom to many animals, somewhere between Springhouse and Alkali Lake, BC. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (250) 440-5759.