Today’s guest, writer Sarah Bennett, talks about her unusual pets–miniature donkeys!
There is nothing peaceful about a donkey’s bray. From the strength of their call, one might expect to see a mammoth-sized donkey. But these choruses belong to the miniature residents of my ranch, who stand no taller than 34 inches at the shoulder.
From spotted to sorrel, gray to brown, Mediterranean miniature donkeys were originally bred for strength to press olive oil and turn grain wheels, then pull heavy carts to market. They are highly intelligent and the latches of their pens now have clip closures after they figured out how to open slide handles. And although stubbornness is usually associated with donkeys, it’s a trait rarely seen in the compliant and eager-to-please miniature breed. Our little guys are more like dogs with hooves!
Miniature donkeys are docile and sweet; my children have spent plenty of time in the pens without fear of being injured. Their kind nature puts children naturally at ease, making the donkeys a particular treat for elementary school visits. Groups of special-needs adults visit the farm to share the donkeys’ gentleness. Somehow, miniature donkeys sense the necessity for placidity and they become very peaceful in their movements around visitors with physical disabilities. More than once, I’ve witnessed our donkeys lay their heads on the lap of someone in a wheelchair.
There is a feature that we value on our miniature donkeys, overlooked by many but as precious to our family as the donkeys themselves. Across the shoulders and along the back of each donkey is a “cross.” It is said that the cross was placed there by the Lord to remind us that His Son rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey. In reward for the loyal and humble love of the donkey, the Lord caused the shadow of the cross to fall across its back. The donkey has carried the cross ever since as a sign that the love of God. It’s a remarkable story that we love to share with visitors!
Here in far northern California, where the climate is so close to the Mediterranean, our donkeys never suffer any heat related injuries. Their coats thicken in the winter. Soon we will shave some of them for the upcoming show season.
There’s nothing quite like the love and loyalty of a miniature donkey. I told my mom she was crazy when she said she was trading in her horses for them. And here I am now, with five pairs of brown eyes that squint at me just before a round of braying starts.
Sarah Bennett has dabbled in writing since her childhood and has several articles published in Assets and Enjoy magazines. An adrenaline junkie, she has skydived, worked as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, and is raising two daughters with her husband of over 21 years in Northern California. She is looking forward to new adventures God drops into her lap!