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September 21, 2007

First Newsletter Continued - Part 4

An article on how to choose a mammoth donkey, for first time owner/buyers, or as a refresher for the rest of us. Submitted by Nelda Auge of Los Lunos, New Mexico.

How Do I Choose A Mammoth Donkey?
A few things to consider
First time donkey owners, who are looking for a mammoth sized donkey, are sometimes confused about what they should be looking for when choosing their new long eared companion. Here are a few suggestions that might be some food for thought.
First, of course, determine if you can care for a donkey properly. They require at least the basics of adequate shelter for your location, safe area for exercise, proper feed and water, farrier, dental, and veterinary care, as well as companionship. Donkeys are social creatures and really appreciate being with others of their own kind if possible, but they also need to be able to bond with their human too. Be sure you are willing and able to provide them with their basic needs. Get yourself a good book, such as the Definitive Donkey, available from the Hee Haw Book Service to learn about donkeys. http://www.geocities.com/heehawbookcat/
And remember, donkeys bray – sometimes loudly…. consider your neighborhood and if that will become a major problem.
Once you have determined that you can properly care for your donkey, decide WHY you want a mammoth. Be honest with yourself on your needs and wishes.
Do you want your mammoth donkey to be a pasture pet or for a companion animal to another equine, or do you just want to rescue one to love? If so, you may be willing to settle for an older donkey, one with less than perfect conformation, or even one with special needs. Size may not be an issue. These types of donkeys are often out there looking for good homes with people who are willing to give them some extra TLC. These donkeys may be found in your local newspapers or auctions. They sometimes go through equine rescue organizations. Putting out the word that you are looking for one will often bring you a donkey that needs you. These donkeys are often reasonably priced or even free. You should know that you might be looking at extra costs in the long run if they need special feed or vet or farrier care but helping such an animal in need can be a wonderful fulfilling experience.
Do you want to breed or show your donkey? Then you will want to be looking for a donkey with good conformation, health and disposition…. one that will pass on the best possible genetics to their offspring. Though there is no such thing as a "Perfect" donkey in all ways, a responsible breeder should be breeding only the best. Educate yourself as to what is considered good and bad traits and only breed your donkey if you have a market for good homes or are willing to keep the foal yourself. There are too many unwanted animals to breed irresponsibly or "just for fun". The ADMS and the AMJR registries put out good information for breeders and for those who wish to show. Show animals are judged on their conformation and for their ability to perform so keep those things in mind as you look for a donkey to fit those qualifications. Size will matter more for these purposes so be ready to know how to accurately measure your choice. Color may factor in to your preference.
Or do you intend to trail ride, pack, or drive your new donkey? You will want to find a donkey with good enough conformation and soundness to hold up to the kind of activities and terrain that you will have them in. A riding or pack donkey needs to be large enough to carry their rider or pack well, with strong backs, legs and feet. They need to be old enough to be mature if you intend to ride more than just a little, in good health and be conditioned if the trails are to be long or difficult. If you want to drive your donkey, they need to be mature enough, sound enough and large enough to pull the weight of the person and vehicle well. Driving animals need to be calm and dependable to be safe. Riding and driving animals that are willing to be forward moving may be easier to train and work with. Disposition is also important when choosing an animal for these activities.
Whether to choose a jennet or a gelding is an individual preference. Intact jacks should only be handled by those who are very experienced and who have facilities that can safely accommodate them - they can be unpredictable and dangerous. Most people should not keep intact jacks. Jacks can be successfully gelded when older by experienced veterinarians and go on to live happy, useful lives.
If you choose a foal or young donkey, you will have those "baby" stages to deal with, and you will have to wait until it is mature enough to do the things you want to do. Youngsters are fun, but can be challenging. You will also need to be willing to train it. An older, mature donkey may be more suitable if you want to ride or drive right away. Finding a well-trained donkey isn’t easy and may take time… most people who have them, keep them.
And of course, keep in mind that it’s best to have a Veterinary exam on your intended donkey so that you know the conditions of their health and possible long-term care before you buy or bring your new donkey home. Know what you may be getting into and the possible costs of time, money and dedication that you may be taking on.
All this said about choosing your mammoth donkey, you may find that your donkey chooses you. Many of us have had ideas about what we wanted in a donkey, only to find that when we went to look, a certain donkey chose us and ended up coming home with us, regardless of our best intentions. And those may become our very favorite donkeys of all. Donkeys are special creatures. I hope you find one to be your special companion and friend.
Submitted by Nelda Auge

Posted by Tanya Tourjee at September 21, 2007 02:12 PM