This rescued donkey was afraid of strangers –until he met my grandson.
A sweet boy teaches a skittish donkey to trust again.
My ranch in the Bitterroot Valley is home to an assortment of farm animals. At present, there are three horses, two dogs and two donkeys.
In 2009, I rescued one of those donkeys, Bo. Despite a successful rehab, he remained skittish around strangers unless I escorted them. But the walls came down when Bo met my grandson, Dylan.
Just shy of 4 years old, Dylan came with his mom and dad, Stacy and Aaron, to spend the Fourth of July with me in 2015. They were on their way to Canada for a vacation.
While keeping his distance from other family members, Bo displayed an unusual fascination with Dylan. Perhaps he had never seen such a tiny person close up. We decided to introduce them.
As Dylan’s parents stood nearby, I led the way, telling Dylan, “move slowly, keep your arms down, be quiet and stoop down sometimes.” He cautiously approached Bo, holding a soft rubber currycomb.
Step by step Dylan moved closer, and Bo held his ground. He seemed intrigued by this little visitor. Dylan softly rubbed Bo’s shoulders and neck, removing some remnants of a thick winter coat.
It’s hard for a 4-year-old to stay still for long, and impulse overcame restraint. Dylan made one quick move, sending Bo scampering off.
Not an auspicious start, but Bo and Dylan were not ready to give up. To witness a preschooler learn to control himself in such a short time was amazing. He approached Bo again and began currying.
Dylan’s parents and I watched as true love developed between this once-untrustful donkey and gentle boy. There was no fear or thought that Bo would be hurt in any way.
Over the next few days, Bo let Dylan throw his arms around his neck, pet his legs, hold his head in his hands and even pat his cheeks. And Dylan felt free to sit at Bo’s feet while Bo carefully nibbled his shirt collar and hair and rubbed Dylan’s back with his bristly chin.
Just as Dylan was calm, earning Bo’s trust, Bo showed incredible restraint in all his movements with Dylan. He hugged Dylan (yes, a donkey can hug) without knocking him off balance.
They met again one week later as the family passed through on their return trip. It was almost dark, but Dylan and his dad trekked to the far reaches of the pasture. Bo came enthusiastically to meet them.
Since this encounter, Bo has been a changed donkey, trusting people unless they make quick moves. Bo’s farrier says she can’t believe it and that Dylan is a miracle worker.
Bo’s skittish nature vanished when he bonded with his young friend, Dylan.