Monday, August 15, 2016

Shorty and Bum:
A Very Special Friendship

by Carol Knight Watson

     Every time I read or type up this story, it breaks my heart and makes me cry. But, for me, it is a wonderful and interesting reminder that we humans are so much alike other species with whom we share our beautiful planet. 

     Shorty was a famous burro who lived in Fairplay, Colorado. He worked his whole life at mines around town for various owners. When his last owner left town, he simply left Shorty behind. During severe winters when deep snows covered the grassy areas, he went hungry for long periods of time. In time, he became blind. On a cold night in the fall of 1949, Bum, a stray dog, discovered Shorty in a pasture at the edge of town. Shivering and cold, Bum nestled up against the shaggy burro and they kept each other warm that night. From then on, they were constant companions. 
     Bum would lead his blind friend along the city streets to the outskirts where there was grass and waited patiently while Shorty grazed. Wherever Shorty went, his best friend, Bum, was always with him. During the winter, the two had to resort to begging for food to survive.

     Bum learned which residents would give them food and would lead Shorty to those doors, who would bray to announce their arrival. The cook at the Hand Hotel made sure they had warm pancakes and biscuits right from the platter that was about to be served to paying guests. Whatever food Bum was given, he would lay it in front of Shorty. Only after Shorty had eaten would Bum himself eat. 
     Johnnie Capelli, the courthouse janitor, befriended the two and during bitter cold weather made a bed of hay for them in his garage and parked his car outside. On one particularly cold night, he smuggled them into the heated courthouse, where they slept in the jail. The next morning, he had to clean out the cell before the sheriff arrived. 
     One late spring morning in 1951, as Bum and Shorty were making their breakfast rounds, a chipmunk darted across a vacant lot across the street. Bum instinctively chased him. As Shorty stepped off the curb to follow Bum, a car hurtled around the corner, hit poor Shorty, and raced on, leaving him broken and bleeding. He died before anyone could come to his aid. Not knowing what else to do, someone loaded Shorty on a wagon and took him to the town dump. 
     When Bum disappeared, Johnnie Capelli found him keeping a lonely vigil at Shorty’s side. For days, he would not leave Shorty and refused to eat or drink. While the city of Fairplay would not spend the money to bury Shorty, they did cremate him. The people of Fairplay were so touched by the devotion between the blind burro and the stray dog that they took up a collection and erected a granite monument in their memory on the courthouse lawn. Shorty’s ashes were buried next to it.
     Only weeks after Shorty’s death, as Bum was crossing the street near Shorty’s grave, he was struck and killed by a semi tractor trailer. Some say that in his grief, he may have wanted to die. Bum was buried at Shorty’s side.

~        ~        ~

     Everyone at Amberwood Sanctuary is doing relatively well, except for all the rain. With very few exceptions, it has rained every day for the past several weeks, and it is usually very heavy rains. We are all so tired of being wet. Remember, donkeys are desert animals, and this is certainly not desert weather and is not to their liking. They begin having problems with their feet when it stays so wet. A few of the donkeys are beginning to limp to the point that we will probably have to have a visit from the vet.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Introducing the Dodge County (Georgia) Donkey Family

by Carol Knight Watson
     There is no end to sad situations for donkeys and all animals. Last November, we received an urgent call regarding 11 donkeys abandoned in a large field in Middle Georgia for an undetermined length of time. After placing a jack and jenny in his pasture, the original caretaker had had a stroke and the donkeys were left to fend for themselves. They were discovered when the fencing began to fall down and the donkeys were entering others people’s property and were out on local roads. 
From left, Maya, Joey, Cheyenne, Priscilla
     Being a small rescue organization, Amberwood Sanctuary is not in a position to rescue so many animals at one time—we did not and do not have the personnel or the funding necessary to handle such a large event. But no one, including local law enforcement, would take any steps to help them, and there was some talk of shooting them. Without immediate action, this obviously desperate situation was only going to get worse and their doom was sealed.   
     Our beautiful “historic” incoming barn had been renovated through the donations of many caring people and a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but we did not have adequate funding to complete the replacement of the very old and decrepit fencing of the attached corral and small pasture. In preparing to rescue the Dodge County Donkey Family, we pulled money from other budgeted items and completed the incoming area.
     After a lot of work and worrying, the donkeys arrived on December 11, there being four grown jennies, two grown jacks, three baby jennies, and two baby jacks. With probably all four grown jennies pregnant, a little jenny (Madison) was born on April 23. Of course, the two grown jacks were castrated immediately on their arrival. 
Priscilla, Mariah (mama)
     Not having any human contact, they are feral, with the extraordinary exception of a 2-month old jenny (Priscilla) who walked right up to me on her first day here and let me pet her. Donkeys are naturally very cautious animals and are careful in giving their trust. Now, several months later, there is a small entourage of donkeys who usually meet me at the gate and follow me around: along with Priscilla, Sammy, Maya (all babies), and Madison (the newest baby, after about two months of not allowing me to touch her at all). Joey, the father and grandfather of the family, will come to me. Gretchen (mother and grandmother of the family), Jasmine, and Mariah will allow me to pet them sometimes. All the rest, three grown, one baby: no! (Delaney, Laurel, Hamilton, Cheyenne). I’m still trying to remember everyone’s name!    
Dodge County Donkey Family
in abandoned field
     Donkeys are very territorial and do not readily accept newcomers into their herd, so there is always the possibility that a grown jack could harm a small foal he does not know. With six young foals in this family and the babies still to come, it became necessary to expand our incoming area in order to accommodate this many donkeys for a much longer than normal period of time. We’ve added part of our main pasture, temporarily, to the incoming area pasture. 
     Because this was an extreme emergency for the sanctuary and for these poor, abandoned donkeys, we sent out a desperate newsletter to all of you, asking for your help. And help, you did. The response was overwhelming: Everyone cared about these donkeys and the unfortunate situation they were in. Your love and generosity, shown through the donations and kind notes we received, saved the lives of the Dodge County Donkey Family. From the bottom of my heart: Thank You! We could not rescue and care for these precious donkeys without you!   


Remembering Jake and Harry

                   JAKE                                              HARRY