Saturday, November 27, 2010
Who gets left at home?
Initially I got three donkeys so I would be able to take one out walking, while leaving two at home, thinking that as long as the ones at home had company, they wouldn't care if somebody went out for a walk. Walking with donkeys is my passion - I love nothing better than roaming the island in the company of a donkey and my main goal has been to get to do some hiking, camping and trekking with them.
This didn't work at all when Ringo was here! If I took Ringo, the jennys were fine together, but Ringo was so hard for me to manage on the road that I only took him out if I had a friend to come along. If I took Deenah out, Ringo would get so frustrated that he would take it out on poor Dorica who had to run for cover and all along our walk, I could hear Dorica back at home, squealing and grunting as she ran from Ringo or tried to kick him in self-defence.
Deenah just didn't care that she had Ringo for company, she was hysterical when Dorica left. I worked at this problem carefully through clicker training ... working with Dorica where Deenah could see us, moving her farther away bit by bit and returning to Deenah if she stayed calm. But it never worked. Deenah could remain calm for a few minutes, then explode and try to run through a fence. She injured herself in places I thought were safe. Also, she has an ulcer problem and I hate to add stress to this condition. I left her with hay to eat but although she has a great appetite, she didn't care a wit about food if Dorica was gone.
Dorica became reluctant to come with me - now I think she was picking up Deenah's panic and felt anxious.
I felt trapped and discouraged ... who could I take out without worrying either about my own safety or the donkeys back at home? This was no fun.
When Ringo left, Deenah and Dorica showed no signs of caring ... no calling, no running, no looking for him (poor Ringo!) So when I brought Siog home, I was curious and interested to see if I would have the same problem with a new herd of three.
I have taken Siog out three times now and she is brilliant on the road. Deenah and Dorica: fine at home together, Siog: fine to come out with me.
Today I took Dorica out. Interestingly, it was Siog who seemed upset but not Deenah! Could it be? Dorrie was a tad reluctant to walk uphill and I used my outstretched hand as a target for her to follow from time to time and Clicked/ treated for her for walking farther. Coming home, she decided to break into a nice trot and we jogged a ways together. Deenah only brayed once but we were nearly home and she could see us. Seemed fine being left with Siog. Tomorrow will be Deenah's turn and we'll see what happens!