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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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Separation Anxiety

Donkeys can form strong bonds with one another and the importance of these bonds should not be underestimated.  I've seen different examples of these relationships and also donkeys who don't seem to enjoy eachother's company that much.

When I brought Deenah home four years ago, she had been living with an assortment of other critters ... a mini jack donkey, two alpacas, a couple of miniature goats and a goose.  On the other side of the fence was a mini jennet with a young foal at her side.  I was told that Dee had been living there for about two years and I couldn't find out anything about her life before that, although I tried.

Anyway, Deenah was just about the best thing that could have happened to Dorica.  She had only been with us for nine months and during that time, her stall mate, Annie had become ill and died after two weeks of intense nursing.  It was an awful experience for all of us and very hard on Dorica.  While I searched for another donkey companion for her, we borrowed Syd the goat to keep her company.

Deenah and Dorica became fast friends.  Now it is hard to separate them.  Little Dorrie is fine to come for walks with me, but Deenah gets so anxious that she has actually hurt herself on several occasions - a very "undonkey-like" thing to do!

The other day, I slowly and carefully worked with Dorica just on the other side of the fence from Deenah.
She was still eating hay with Ringo next to her.  I gradually moved Dorica away and towards the gate to take her for a walk.  Deenah became more and more agitated.  This is not a new experience for Deenah - I try to work with Dorica frequently and for small amounts of time.  Deenah should know (this is my thinking) that Dorica will be right back!

But no, poor Dee gets herself all upset, almost hyperventilating, galloping and sometimes tries to jump a fence.  This time she managed to hoist herself up into a corner, get her head over top of the stock fencing and snag her nose on a strand of barbed wire. 

I am embarrassed to admit that there is any barbed wire here - it is left from a previous owner.  We managed to removed all of it except for this strand which I thought was well out of reach from the donkeys.  And donkeys don't freak out like horses, right?

Well I spent the next few hours doctoring Deenah.  Thank goodness she recently had a tetanus shot.  I disinfected the wound but couldn't get it to clot for ages.  Finally it did and I applied a layer of Swat so the flies wouldn't bother it.  By evening, it looked better so I put my magical Golden Seal salve on it and by the next morning you could barely see the puncture.

NOW what, though ...?  Do I ever take Dorica for a walk again?  What a conundrum!


  1. Sorry to reply to such an old post but we have the same behavior from 2 of our 3 minis - what did you do to remedy this or do you just walk the herd as we do?

    1. Separation anxiety is tricky to deal with! What I have done is to take a donkey out for just a few minutes and bring her back, gradually increasing the amount of time that we are away. This has to be based on the donkeys' response though, see how they react when you walk for just 5 minutes. Gradually they should learn that you and the donkey WILL return! If you have a friend who can stay behind with the animals at home, all the better! He or she can reinforce the "home" donkeys for calm moments if you are working with clicker training. Things should improve as the donkeys figure out a pattern too.

      I don't walk more than 1 at a time. Thanks for writing!