TIn art, literature and spiritual history, the donkey has always been linked to human beings in the Theater Of Chance. They carried Jesus into Jerusalem, brought Napoleon over the Alps, carried Queen Victoria and traveled with Sancho Panza on his journey through Spain. No animal comes close to the rich spiritual history of these creatures.
Yet so little is known about them, so few people have met them. I have been studying the Dao of the donkey for years now, they have been a part of my life since I came to my farm, a bigger part since Simon arrived near death. I'm writing a book about Simon, Red and Rocky and it includes a history of the donkeys, I have been researching it for months.
When I think of donkeys, I think of these traits: intelligence, curiosity, independence, loyalty and a capacity for hard work. They are hardy creatures, requiring little care (hay in the winter, water and farrier). They love to explore rough and brush-filled terrain. They powerfully attach to people, but like a cat, on their terms. They are not eager to please, they do not respond instantly to commands, every idea has to be theirs, or they are not likely to do it, or not likely to do it right away.
Like all animals, they love who feeds them. They are more intuitive than most dogs I have known, they can read intentions and moods from a half-mile away. If you bring them carrots at the gate at 7 a.m., they are likely to be there braying every day for the rest of their life and yours. They are scholars of food, and know when you walk into the kitchen of your home, no matter how far away. They can be trained to pull carts, haul wood, give rides, pull plows. They are smarter and easier to work with than horses, or so I am told. They are guard animals, they keep coyotes and stray dogs out of the pasture. They love to be brushed, talked to, read to and sung too. They are one of the few animals with a sense of humor. They seem to grasp the ridiculous nature of human beings and get a chuckle out of us.
Oh yes, they have big soft warm noses.