Taking care of my donkey, Ray, takes quite a bit of effort, but it's my hobby, and it's worth it!
Keeping a Donkey as a Pet and a Pal
Taking care of my donkey is quite a bit of effort, but it's my hobby. I don't do lots of the things that other people do for fun. I don't have a cell phone or cable TV. I don’t travel or skydive or go square dancing. I care for my animals and read books from the library and watch movies. In the spring and summertime, I garden. Keeping a donkey requires a lot of work, but it's worth it.
How Ray Came to Live With Me
Ray used to belong to my neighbor. One day, Ray ran through a fence chasing a coyote or dog or something and got some cuts on his legs. My neighbor had some experience with horses but not with donkeys, so he didn't know how to care for Ray. He was feeding Ray a diet that was too rich, and this interfered with the healing of the cuts. I knew what to do, so my neighbor gave the donkey to me.
I grew up with horses, donkeys, and mules, and caring for an equine is very satisfying to me. In fact, with Ray to take care of, I feel more like my true self than I have at any other time in my adult life. If you don't have equine experience, you probably have no way of understanding it, but people who know and love horses, donkeys, and mules will understand in a heartbeat.
What Are Donkeys Like?
Donkeys are tough and rugged and very strong. They are much stronger than horses and very versatile. On the practical side, Ray helps me with my garden by providing manure and by eating the weeds and grass down around my yard. If I can find a little cart and harness for not too much, I will enlist Ray's help to haul the manure from his lot to my backyard garden and compost area. If he does well with that, then I may start driving him up to the feed store to pick up his own feed and hay!
I personally believe that equines enjoy working with people who treat them well and handle them correctly. Helping me with these chores will give Ray purpose and something interesting to do in addition to grazing, going for walks, and being groomed!
Can You Ride a Donkey?
Carrying a medium-height and weight woman would be no strain on Ray at all, and I could ride him if I wanted to. I would be more comfortable with a taller pony, donkey, or mule.
Being ridden would help him stay in shape, and he would get to go on outings and socialize with more people, which he greatly enjoys; however, Ray is not that forward thinking. He doesn't know how to be ridden or driven, and he has no desire to learn. I did try to teach him, but success was very limited, and I eventually got a mule to ride.
Are Donkeys Hard to Take Care Of? What Are the Costs?
For people who do their research and don't think of them as cuddly pets, donkeys are good companions and easy to care for. They require far less veterinary and farrier attention than a horse. Ray costs me less to care for than my dogs.
What Do Donkeys Eat?
Ray's food is less expensive than that of my other pets (crimped oats $12 for 50 pounds + hay $12 a bale). I purchase food for him about every six weeks. I get him a $2 mineral salt block about four times a year. He also gets a carrot every day and occasional apples, oranges, bananas, and other fruits and veggies. Additionally, I stake him out to graze for 2–3 hours a day.
In the fall, he eats horse-apples from naturalized trees in the area. These are a natural wormer, and I mix food grade diatomaceous earth with his feed on an ongoing basis as a regular wormer. This is very inexpensive, usually about a dollar a pound. A ten-pound bag lasts about six months.
How Much Space Do They Need?
Ray lives on two lots near my home: a one-acre lot that he mows in exchange for being allowed to live there and an adjoining four-acre lot that I rent. People stop by to admire Ray standing on the porch of the empty little house that sits on the one-acre lot. Ray is a popular local attraction!
What Kind of Veterinary Care Do Donkeys Need?
Ray sees his farrier for a hoof trim every 2–3 months for $25. In the spring and summer, he gets a spot-on fly repellent that costs about $15 every six weeks. The vet came out a few days ago and examined Ray and gave him all his shots for $140! Quite a deal, especially since he was also able to give rabies vaccines to two dogs and two cats while he was here for an additional $40.
(I will definitely have all critter shots done by the farm vet from now on. It is much more economical and much easier than carting them off to the small animal vet!)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 justmesuzanne
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on June 01, 2013:
Many thanks! I don't know how things are in Australia, but in Texas Craigslist ads are full of free donkeys. It may be very easy for you to get a nice pet donkey. The minis (about the size of a large dog) are fun! :)
travmaj from australia on June 01, 2013:
I love this story and I always wanted a donkey - (the kids had horses when they were younger - and I now have two cows) Ray sounds delightful and gives you so much in return for your love and care. Sending best wishes to you both...
sweetie1 from India on May 21, 2013:
Very interesting hub..
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on May 17, 2013:
Thanks! Glad you liked it. I will post more pictures of Ray. Next time he has his bareback pad and bridle on I will take a few shots. He had a bath both yesterday and today because of mud, so he's looking pretty spiffy! :)
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on May 16, 2013:
My grandpa and grandma had horses and mules, but no donkey. I think it would have been great fun to have one or two. I loved the horses. We had lots of dogs, chickens, cows, pigs and ducks.
I would like to see more pictures of Ray.
Wonderful Hub, voted up UAI and will share
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on May 11, 2013:
Good bit of Indian trivia! Thanks! :D
Indian Chef from New Delhi India on May 11, 2013:
Sounds fun. In India usually the washer man ( who wash clothes.. they are not seen much now as now nearly every house has washing machine) usually kept donkeys but I do not see many people keeping them now .
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on May 04, 2013:
Thanks, SG! :)
Jennifer: Kudos on adopting a BLM donkey. The BLM is just devastating our public lands by rounding up our wild horses and burros and selling them at auction to kill buyers who transport them unsafely to Mexico for slaughter. It is a travesty and must be stopped. You will make a huge difference for the donkey you adopt and set a great example for others to follow! :)
Peggy: Thanks for the kind words, votes and shares! :)
Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on May 04, 2013:
There are several families around me that have donkeys, I have often wondered why. They don't seem to do any work, except maybe keep the grass and weeds under control. I guess they are great pets, I have never really been around a donkey. You hub is awesome, I really enjoyed reading this! I am happy that Ray has you for his best friend! :) Up and interesting! :)
Marcy J. Miller from Arizona on May 04, 2013:
You're a person after my own heart, Suzanne. I've always had such a soft spot for donkeys (ahhhh, heck, they have fur and hooves, so of course I would!) and expect to adopt a BLM burro in the coming year or so when we add a BLM mustang to our herd. I so enjoyed your well-written and upbeat hub!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2013:
It sounds like Ray has a wonderful life and he is giving joy to yours. It is obvious from reading this that his coming into your life was a blessing for you both. Hope he gets his cow someday! People used to kid my parents that they would like to come back as a dog in their house and we have been told the same. Our animals do give us so much pleasure! Up, useful and interesting votes and will share with my followers and pin to my animal board.
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on April 01, 2013:
Not a bribe - PAY! Yes, donkeys do get bored. They need lots of interaction, and they like to have a friend around like another donkey, horse, goat or cow. Ray loves cattle and gets very excited whenever he sees them. I think he must have been a guard donkey at some time before I had him. There is a horse in the lot next to his, and they are friends. He loves to go out on his walks and visit with people, too.
You are not the only person to say it would be great to be my donkey! LOL! An old man who lives near me said, "When I die, I want to come back as a donkey, and I want you to take care of me!" Ray definitely has a comfortable life!
Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
Anjili from planet earth, a humanoid on April 01, 2013:
I would love to be your donkey. So loved and cared for. Ray reminds me of a donkey I encountered that couldn't lift a single weight until the owner gave it a fresh bun. The ass would take off pretty fast after chewing the bun and would work all day long. I saw it as requiring a bribe in order to do the chores. That put a smile on my face. Proves animals have rights to put their foot down for attention. By the way, do donkeys get bored?
justmesuzanne (author) from Texas on March 20, 2013:
Thanks Diogenes and Larry! Yes, I far prefer my animals to any person I know! :D I have not read that book, D, but I will look it up.
Larry, there is a horse who lives in the lot next to Ray, and they are friends. During times when Ray stays in my yard for extended periods, he bonds with me more. If I am ever able to get him into a larger pasture, I will get a small milk cow or milk goat to keep him company. He is VERY fond of cows and gets very excited any time he sees them. I think he must have guarded a herd of cattle at some time in his life.
Thanks for the votes and shares! :)
Larry Fields from Northern California on March 20, 2013:
We're learning more and more about the therapeutic values of animals. Back in the 1950s, nobody would have guessed that Fido could have the talent to be a seizure alert dog.
Maybe we'll discover specific ways that donkeys can help people with certain health problems. Maybe even cancer?
Here's my stooopid question of the day. I know that Ray enjoys having you as his best human buddy. But does he feel lonely for the company of other equines?
Voted up, beautiful, and shared.
diogenes from UK and Mexico on March 20, 2013:
I can't seem to find bliss with another human being, and I have enjoyed my animals more and more over the years and I feel they bring me closer to the universe in some rare way. I love donkeys and had great sympathy for them when I lived in Mexico where they work them like...like donkeys, or burros. Have you read Graham Mackintosh' book, "Travel with a Baja Burro."? Marvellous.