Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Episodes this week ...

Well, never a dull moment is a good saying!  This week both Deenah and Dorica managed to get on the"wrong" side of the fence.  They were in the corridor between the barn paddock and the "lower" paddock -
often, I'll just leave the gates between the 2 paddocks open, trusting that they won't test the temporary wire fence panels pulled across the drive.  But, this time they somehow manage to get underneath the wire and scoot out the other side to freedom and grass.

Luckily, I happened to be in the greenhouse and saw it happen.  So I hurried down to the barn to grab halters and also my treat pouch and target stick.  Ringo was in the dark, so to speak and didn't yet realize that the girls had escaped, so I secured him in the barn paddock in front of a pile of hay and
made my way to where the girls were munching in front of the garden gate.

But then the light bulb went on for Ringo who realized that not only was he alone, but that the girls had made the great escape!  He went hee hawing and galloping all over the place, from one field to another but luckily didn't try and funny stuff.

I easily haltered good old Deenah and led her back and through the gate to where Ringo was.  Then off to get Dorrie, but ... of course now Deenah went wild and this one, old as she is, WILL try to jump the fences!
I should have brought Dorica back first ... how dumb!

So I put Dee and Ring in their respective stalls with hay, but, oh no, Deenah was threatening to  jump the stall gate and she could really hurt herself.  With nowhere safe to leave her, I felt my best option was to halter and tie her stoutly in her stall.  It was stressful for her but at least she would be safe.

I rushed to bring Dorrie home and all was well, although I spent considerable time apologizing to Deenah for my backwards thinking.

Next day I thought I'd take Deenah for a wee walk up the road to make amends.  Off we went to the background music of Ringo trying to clobber Dorica in frustration at being left behind.  Ignore!  Deenah never used to enjoy leaving home without the others but through clicker training, she has gained confidence and trust and is now happy to come along.  I use a small target stick to encourage her to walk and then click and treat her for coming so she gets the idea that "walking" is what I want her to do!

However a short distance away, she was looking unwell - how could I tell?  I just know her!  I led her to a patch of roadside grass and she refused to nibble .... now I was CERTAIN she wasn't feeling well and encouraged her to come home.

Sure enough, the small treats I had been offering as rewards had gotten stuck in her throat (she chokes very easily) and after a few minutes of standing, gobs of ropey saliva began oozing out of her mouth.  I know this sounds gross but actually it's a good thing!  Donkeys cannot throw up, so copious salivation helps dislodge and expel whatever they are choking on.  When I see this, I am relieved (although not completely happy until it's over as you're hoping the thing they are choking on can really be evicted.) Too much information?  Deenah was fine a short time later and began eating some hay.

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