Thanksgiving Day or Giving Day?

This month I’m going to talk about something a little different than in past articles. Well – ok, a lot different. This month, I’m going to talk about the lives of donkeys. Did he say Donkeys? Yep. Read on and you’ll find out how it fits in.

Denise and I started live in the country and used to pass by a farm that had a herd of miniature donkeys. We decided that we too would like to have a donkey as a pet. Well, when we started looking for one, we learned that some close friends had just taken one in. We went to see this little guy and what we found was not pretty. Apparently, the previous owners had not taken very good care of this little guy (Mr. Bo Jangles). His hooves had not been properly cared for and he had been left in a pasture with an abusive horse that bit him repeatedly until there were large spots on his body that no longer had hair. In an effort to save him from the abusive situation, they put Mr. Bo Jangles (gotta love that name) into a small pen with no fodder.

Denise and I decided to take Bo home and we spent the next few months teaching him how to trust humans again. After a lot of time and attention (not to mention copious amounts of patience), Mr. Bo Jangles had finally come to trust mankind again.

After a while, others learned about what we had done with Bo and it wasn’t long before we received a call from a couple who were in a real fix. It seems that they had two donkeys and a neighbor that didn’t get along. One of the Donkeys - a male which we have since named Jack; repeatedly broke out of their fence and continued to go, uh – start a relationship with the mare next door (gotta keep it PG here). The neighbor told the couple that he did not want any mules and if his mare gave birth to one, he would slit it’s throat and shoot Jack. They called and asked if we could take them in.

We started hearing more and more about this thing called “Donkey Dumping.” No, it doesn’t have anything to do with donkeys using the bathroom!

Texas has been in the throws of the worst drought in recorded history. Hay prices have skyrocketed and donkeys compete with other animals for grass and water. When people can no longer afford to care for their donkeys, they open the gate and let them just roam off. Sometimes, they’ll drive them out into a rural area of the county and just dump them out on the side of the road (hence the term donkey dumping). Others simply let the animals starve to death in their pasture.

My wife and I made the decision to start a non-profit organization to help find an alternative solution to this atrocity.  A newspaper reporter found out about what we were doing and asked if he could write an article about it. Then, several local news stations saw the article and came out with video cameras. I was contacted by a newspaper reporter just today about the possibility of another article.

Last week, the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office contacted us and asked if we could take in a donkey they found wandering around in the County. When the deputy arrived with the new donkey (which we appropriately named Burnet), he gave a sigh of relief and thanked me for taking him.

He told me that this was his last chance and that if we hadn’t taken him, he would be euthanized the next day. Imagine being handed a death sentence just because no one wanted you.

The animal had not been taken care of before he was left to fend for himself. He was malnourished and flies had bit him so much that he had no hair or skin below his eyes. This could have been prevented with a $15 fly mask.

I know that we all look at Thanksgiving as a time to be thankful for the place we live, the friends we have made, our job (nowadays, that’s really something to be thankful for), this wonderful country in which we live and so on.

I wonder sometimes though, if simply being thankful is enough. It doesn’t cost anything to be thankful. It doesn’t take any time to be thankful. What about making a difference in someone’s life? What about saving a life?

This year, Denise and I will are encouraging our family to step out and give of themselves – rather than simply being thankful to others for doing so. We will be celebrating “Giving Day” instead of Thanksgiving Day.”