Why Donkeys Make Excellent Pets
Keeping a Donkey as Pet and 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.
One day a donkey ran through a fence chasing a coyote or dog or something and got some cuts on his legs. Its owner, who had some experience with horses but not with donkeys, didn't know how to care for him. He was feeding him a diet that was too rich, and this interfered with the healing of the cuts. I knew what to do, so he gave the donkey to me.
I named him Ray. 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 is no strain on Ray at all, and I can ride him if I want. I would be more comfortable with a taller pony, donkey, or mule, but it is no problem for Ray. Being ridden helps him stay in shape, and he gets to go on outings and socialize with more people, which he greatly enjoys. Incidentally, Ray has opened many social doors for me as I tend not to be particularly outgoing, but people can hardly resist talking to me when I'm with Ray! Thanks to Ray, I’m much more popular than I used to be!
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. His food is less expensive (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.
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!
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 article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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