I woke up this morning at 6 am and looked out the window to see 4 donkeys happily wandering around so I turned around and went back to bed. At 7am, my dog woke me up barking at something in a funny way so I got up again and only found three donkeys happily wandering around. Hoping that number 4 was just hiding behind the shed, I threw on clothes and went to check. I am definitely not a morning person, but even I can count to three in the am with sufficient application of panic.
I headed out for search and rescue, worried that I had managed to lose the new donkey in less than 12 hours. However, much to my relief, I found Al out in the back field, running the fence line trying to figure out how to get back in. I called him to me and, much to his relief, he followed me back to the herd.
Everyone is still trying to figure things out, but Al is not one to get left out of things. He manages to quietly squirm his way into everything. This is the closest he and Ramsey have gotten so far. It took months before he would talk to Ben.
Al had just arrived at the hay net and Ramsey was more intrigued than alarmed. My little chocolate donkey has learned a lot from Ben about how to get along with new donkeys and he is much less alarmed and offended than he was when poor Ben got here. Speaking of Ben though, see him back there? He has just noticed that the new guy is awfully close to HIS herd.
Here comes the dragon.
The dragon deciding whether or not to breathe fire....
Thinking maybe he can live and let live...
...but then Ramsey's head comes up and he thinks about backing up and The Dragon steps in to guard his buddy.
All in all it is good progress for just 24 hours despite the momentary panic. I learned that I can trust Al to stay with the herd even if he somehow gets himself in a bad spot. Ramsey is taking this new addition much better and I am glad that he has learned how to be part of a real herd, it is good for him on many levels. Al can handle himself without getting upset or causing trouble and my Dragon will keep the herd safe and in line. Not bad for a day's work.
My friend Dave and I went and picked up Little Albert Einstein this afternoon. I wasn't sure how much of a fight we would have getting him on the trailer. To be honest, I was expecting a bit of a battle. I have been working on Al's feet since last Fall - sort of, because he does NOT like having his feet picked up and he is most definitely capable of battle. I've managed to get a few trims done, but mostly I have been working on gaining his trust and convincing him to work with me. That paid off in a big way today. He was afraid of the trailer and not happy about it at all, but I talked to him and asked nicely and he jumped on. Al is a very brave, intelligent donkey and even though he was shaking like a leaf, he took the leap - very brave, tough little guy.
He was met with the full court press.
I had set up this nice little condo for him, thinking he could stay there for the night. He HATED it. He started pacing incessnatly any time I walked away from him and I could see him think about jumping out the windows.
I gave them an hour or so to try to settle in and say hello over the fence....
...but is was clear that it was not going to work so I took Al out and showed him around a bit and then he headed right into the back of the barn. I quickly set things up so he could stay there for the night and he was fine as long as I stayed with him. I finally left them all to it and went in the house for an hour.
When I came back out, Al had resumed his pacing and had himself quite worked up and sweated through. I have seen this kind of pacing in stallions who are kept in small pens all by themselves. It becomes a habit that can be hard to break. Al was gelded late and I think he has spent a little too much time on a small space at some point in his murky, neglected past. Since he seemed to be very respectful of the fence and confinement was making everyone crazy, I gave up trying to impose my ideas of how introductions should go and let them do it the donkey way.
There was a fair bit of wild galloping around....
...and then they settled down to discuss things. Emma was intrigued and willing to talk, Ben was too - for a while. Ramsey was intrigued but very wary and nervous, which is a huge improvement over terrified and appalled like he was when I brought Ben home.
Ben was fine with Al until he got close to Ramsey and Ramsey took off in fright. It is only recently that Ben and Ramsey have become good buddies, but as soon as Ramsey seemed upset, out came the Dragon and Ben put himself between Al and Ramsey to protect his friend.
(I keep telling those boys that they need to put their toys away, but they never listen. Boys!)
After a certain amount of excitement and exploring, things settled down into the long, slow process of donkey negotiations.
I am hopeful that Al will make friends much faster than the 18 months it took Ben and Ramsey, but donkeys make up their minds when they feel like it and that is all there is to it.
All is dark and quiet now though and, while my crew my be unsure, Al himself is very sure he wants to stick close to the herd. I think he will integrate faster than Ben did, because Little Albert is not one to be put off easily.
Soooo....It looks like this little guy is going to come live with me.
This is Al, he lives with Rosie, the laminitic mare I have been working on. Al also has hoof issues that really need some careful attention. He was extremely neglected for the first 5-6 years of his life and ended up at an auction with horribly overgrown elf-slipper hooves. Rosie's mom took pity on him and was the only person to raise her hand at the sale, buying him for $10. She had him gelded and has tried to get his feet taken care of, but the farrier was just not very good with donkey hooves and they have not recovered as they should.
Al (I call him Little Albert Einstein, because he is super smart, quirky and tough) needs some special care for a while and his person is having health issues so....yeah, he is coming to my house.
Because apparently some higher power thinks I need another donkey - or that he needs me.
I'm not entirely sure how I always manage to get myself into these things, but, God help me, he isn't the first and probably won't be the last. I am SUCH a sucker and this Little Einstein knows just how to push all my buttons.