In fact, if you think about marriage, the truly successful ones end in death. It’s the unsuccessful ones that end sometimes in tears, sometimes with celebration but, in the end, freedom to try, try again.
That’s where we are with Teddy the donkey.
We’ve always considered our farm a “forever home” for whatever animals we bring in, and after receiving a phone call from my vet a couple of years ago reporting that an abandoned donkey needed a home and, since we had just put down our 40-year-old mini mule, might we consider a new long-eared companion for our horses? We said we would.
The added icing to the cake was that donkeys are known to keep coyotes off the property. With our cats, we thought this would be beneficial as well.
The problem was, as the months went by, it was evident that Teddy, while affectionate and loving to people, despised any other animal that happened to wander into his paddock or field.
We highly suspect he was the cause of death to one cat, which showed intense trauma and bruising to her belly as she went into emergency surgery after we found her cowering and in pain. She couldn’t be saved.
Because there were no eyewitnesses, I have always argued Teddy’s case, but, as Paul pointed out, he was a ticking time bomb, and it was just a matter of time before something awful happened.
Last week, the bomb went off.
I was in Teddy’s paddock, with wheelbarrow and pitchfork, cleaning up his droppings as our donk munched hay contentedly in front of his open stall. He moseyed out of view to the other side of the barn.
It was then that I heard shrieks and howls of distress coming from our beloved 12-year-old terrier, Bonnie, who, with her fading hearing and eyesight, had evidently just wandered in beneath the fence and never saw him.
Running with speed that I didn’t realize I had, I fled around the corner – pitchfork still in hand – just in time to see, thankfully, a brown-and-white blur streak through the woods to the front steps.
By the time I got there, Bonnie was trembling in Paul’s arms, her white back covered with the tell-tale dirt marks of hooves.
Had Bonnie not been so close to the fence to roll under, I know Teddy would have killed her. And I would have never, ever forgiven myself for having such an animal – even an animal bowing to its natural instinct – on the property that could do such a thing.
It has not been easy to find a new home for our Ted. First of all, he is terrified of thunderstorms, so he must have access to a comfortable stall as well as a responsible owner who will feed and tend to him properly. And there can be no family pets that are in danger of being trampled.
But who has a farm with no dogs or cats? Or ducks, goats, wild turkeys, squirrels and everything else that has incurred his wrath?
I turned, finally, to a rescue ranch a couple of hours away – a friend, Joe, with a wonderful reputation, a ton of acreage and three other donkeys. A sizable check will go along with Teddy, and updates will be made regarding a perfect new home for him when one is found. As an added gesture of gratitude, in the coming weeks, I will give a benefit performance to help raise needed funds to assist Joe in caring for his other rescues.
Teddy, we wish you well. But Bonnie’s still not talking to you.