3 January

Simon: So Sorry To Tell You…

by Jon Katz

I am so sorry to tell you that Simon has a massive stroke this morning and that he is dead. We  put him down at 10:15 A.M. Dr. John McDermott of the Granville Large Animal Service said Simon’s temperature was falling rapidly and his heart was failing, he was going into continuous seizure and was dying. We did  not want him to suffer further.

We knew something was wrong this morning, Simon would not eat any hay – he is usually the first one at the feeder, he began suffering spasms and visible seizures, and looked disoriented. He then toppled over and could not get up. The  minute I looked at him, I told Maria he would not make it through the day.

I first called our friend and farrier Ken Norman, he was in the hospital recovering from surgery on his knees. I was afraid he might leave the try and come over, his wife Eli said he would have but he had no truck there. I texted Ken some video and he said it looked like a stroke, I needed to call the vet.  I called the Granville Vet and they came right away. Maria and I sat with Simon until the vet came, we did not wish to leave him alone. I think he was fading quickly, he was not himself.  I managed to get him up on his feet, but we had  little doubt we would end up euthanizing him.

Eli came over, so did Deb Foster, our very beloved pet and house-sitter,  and our great friends Kim and Jack Macmillan. We plan to bury Simon on the farm as soon as we can find someone with the right equipment. Vince Vecchio, our neighbor and friend will come by with his excavator this afternoon and bury Simon under the apple tree, which he loved. Deb has had a rough time with us, she saw some lambs die earlier this year and came to say goodbye to Ma before she died.

I am sad to tell you this news. Simon was one of those animals who belongs to a lot of people, not just to me and Maria. He came to us five years ago from the police, who took him off a farm, he was suffering greatly from neglect and near death. Ken Norman helped save his life and took great care of his twisted legs. My book about  him, “Saving Simon,” was just published in October, and I am grateful it came out while he was still alive.

So many people loved Simon and came to see him.

We share our loss and grief with you, he was your donkey too. Simon inspired many people with his determination to live, and his graciousness in the face of suffering and pain. I loved helping him heal, tending to him, walking with him in the woods. He opened me up in so many ways, I am nothing but grateful for my time with him. I can’t really write much  more at the moment, but I will share some of the photos of  his last hours later and I thank all of you for  your love of Simon and your appreciation of him.

A life with animals is never simple or easy, it is not one thing but many things, and death is as much a part of it as life and love. My  heart is heavy, but also filled with gratitude and joyous memory. Simon was my partner in the theater of chance, we were two asses on the road of life. I will miss him every morning when I come out of the farmhouse and listen for his wondrous bray, his call to life.


  1. I bought and read your wonderful book ‘Saving Simon’. I enjoyed it from cover to cover. Thank you so very much for giving Simon a wonderful life full of great care and love. I was raised with up to 14 horses and we were given 2 miniature donkeys that roamed our property at their leisure. They would go to our back door and hee haw until they were given a cookie. They were always kind and gentle. But I was raised with a very cruel and cold step mom who would tell me every day that I was not special. And it was I that did the work cleaning stalls and training every day for the horse shows…finally qualifying to ride at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Now I write children’s books to help children to believe in themselves and know how to care for animals with love and kindness. Reading your book about Simon was a true healing gift to me. Thank you.

  2. I’m reading ‘Saving Simon’ now. Absolutely wonderful book. I like to think that things happen for a reason and that Simon was put on this earth to help us know ourselves better as Mr. Katz has described in his well-written book. Also some good info about a donkey’s social life and the herd pecking order.

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