Sunday, September 12, 2010

Donkey Drama

It's been a rough week for us here at the farm.  We've really been contemplating a new home for Dexter the donkey.  He has turned quite aggressive as of late.  One day earlier this week he kept pushing me and trying to bite me while I was out in the pasture until I finally decided to just leave before he got really carried away.  Just as I was about to unlock the gate I heard Gary screaming my name from across yard, "MICHELLE, MICHELLE!"  I had no idea what he was getting so worked up about until a split second later when two hooves came crashing to the gate on either side of me.  Then I could feel Dex standing over me and pushing down on top of my head and back.  I turned around and was able to push him off of me and get out of the pasture unscathed.  It left me pretty shaken up and I haven't been back in the pasture since.

Yesterday I was still too scared to go into the pasture with him so I put his halter on from the other side of the gate and attached a lead rope.  Then I tied it to the post before opening the gate and letting him out to feed him.  We have to feed him separately from the goats because the goats eat all of his grain.  I was trying everything I could to reestablish the trust we seemed to have lost.  He loves to be brushed but when I tried brushing him he just seemed to get more agitated.  He was just starting to become very animated and agitated and I was getting pretty nervous.  It seemed no matter where I tried to stand he kept pinning me up against the gate.  The thought crossed my mind that it was probably not a good idea to try these things when I was home by myself.  I had visions of me being trampled on and attacked and having Gary and the kids come home to find me lying there in the grass with Dex standing over me.  Maybe a little dramatic but you hear stories of things like this happening and they start popping into your head when your donkey is trying to stomp on you.  All you can hear is the sound of your heart thumping in your ears and your throat is so tight you can hardly breathe let alone yell for help.  Just then we heard a truck pulling up the driveway.  He stopped, distracted by the noise and turned his attention to the gigantic truck ambling up the drive and the I was able to untie him and get him back in the pasture without incident.  WHEW!  I walked over to the driver and he immediately started to apologize stating that he didn't know anything about donkeys but he hoped he hadn't spooked him.  I could've kissed him...but I didn't.  I explained what had just been happening and that he couldn't have come at a better time.

I called the vet and scheduled an appointment to have him castrated in the hopes that some of his aggressive behavior could be explained away by the presence of testosterone.  While I was speaking with her she gave me some good advice.  She told me that the surgery alone was not going to cure him of his bad behavior but that he would need some behavior modification as well.  She told me that I was attempting to handle him like a horse and that donkeys require very different handling techniques than horses.  She had a lot more to say but the gist of it was that my problems were a result of my incorrect handling.  Now what do I do?  I felt completely discouraged.  I really have no idea how to get him to do anything.  Determined to at least make an attempt I Googled donkey training and read everything posted about how to train these stubborn little creatures.  Then I attempted to put my newly acquired knowledge into practice.  I couldn't believe it but within 10 minutes I had him following me on a lead rope!  I got him to lead all across our property and thought I might take him for a walk down the road.  We ran into a few cars on the road and poor Dex got a little spooked so we decided to turn back.  The experience seemed to leave him a little cranky.  He reared up a few time and managed to kick me in the head, but other than that it was pretty uneventful.

So....Monday he gets the snip-snip and hopefully he chills out a bit.  If all goes well and he behaves like a gentleman we just might consider a spotted little Jenny as a pasture mate!  I'll let you know if I have any success! Stay tuned...

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