Sylphide in the dandelions
Sylphide (L) and Raphael (R)
Sylphide and Raphael arrived at the Animal Messenger Sanctuary on October 27, 2008. They were part of a herd of seven donkeys living wild in an open space behind a lane of houses in western Sonoma County. None of the male donkeys were gelded, so the herd multipled regularly. None of the donkeys received any care; they never had their hooves trimmed and were left to fend for themselves. The area where they were was too small to provide them with enough food year round and was littered with loose barbed wire and other junk that posed injury hazards.
The donkeys brayed throughout their first two nights at the sanctuary. It was a different kind of braying than they do now. It sounded like grief, and I believe they were calling for their family, from which they had just been separated for the first time in their lives. I felt bad that I couldn't take all seven donkeys, knowing how attached they are to their families, but I don't have the setup for it. I have resolved that when I do, I will try to locate their family members and reunite as many as I can. I promised Sylphide that I will!
I moving slowly on gentling them (I prefer that word to "taming"), letting them decide how much interaction they wanted. It didn't take long for Raphael to allow me to stroke his ears and face, then his neck. Sylphide was more tentative, but then when she felt that first touch, she couldn't get enough. I waited until they were completely comfortable before I tried to put a halter on them. With Sylphide, there was no trying; she simply let me put it on. That's the way I like this to go—no big deal. Raphael didn't like the idea, so I made a deal with him—put the halter on and you can go loose on the property. It took him a few days of watching Sylphide enjoy that freedom and then he agreed. It warmed my heart to see them out with Pegasus and the sheep, all grazing on a dandelion-strewn hillside.
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© 2009, Stephanie Marohn, all rights reserved.