for the love and health of donkeys everywhere

Donkey Tails and Other Stories+

A Tale of Two Rosies


Rosie, Guanajuato Mexico 2013
Then there was Rosie: Found in a broken-down corral where a livestock dealer kept cattle and goats, she had apparently arrived with a group of cattle, in miserable condition, and had an old fracture of her radius. We just couldn’t leave her there, so we bought her for the equivalent of $17.00 (a healthy burro is worth about $30.00), loaded her in borrowed trailer, and took her to place where she could get care and rehabilitation, and an adoptive home. You can see the fracture: right about where a small pickup truck would hit a burro’s forearm. Burros are often injured this way as they graze on the unfenced shoulders of the roadways and people don’t slow down. The fracture had healed, after a fashion, and this really gentle animal (there ARE no bad burros…) was getting around pretty well. However, because she had limited access to food, she had been eating a lot of garbage. (Sorry for those of you who are less veterinary oriented: I just HAD to include these pictures of plastic bags in burro poop….likely a “first” for many ) She also had a nasty bleeding sarcoid (skin tumor common in donkeys in warmer climes). RosieAll in all: some analgesics, some antiparasitics, a corrective hoof trim, and cryosurgery on the sarcoid and “Rosie” (her new name…no idea why) is enjoying life and looking for a new future either in San Miguel or the USA (anybody know a good ‘coyote’? Dogs are a lot easier to bring back to the states…) e

And These days...

RosieWe found Rosie’s old sweatshirt while cleaning up the RVETS room. An Extra Large Hoodie isn’t all that significant, except that it belongs to one of our favorite donkeys. Her story is long and convoluted, starting with her being noticed in a cattle shipment in central Mexico, by a French Canadian friend of ours. Her right front leg had been fractured at the forearm, and actually healed without treatment. The radial fracture is right about where the bumper of a small pickup would hit, and is, therefore, common in Mexico and Central America. My friend, Manon, and I bought her, for about twice what a healthy burro would go for locally, but then, Gringos have no common sense and a lot of money. Getting her into trailer took a bit of patience, as, twisted right front or no, she had no intention of entering another wheeled box, especially with a couple of weird sounding people who smelled funny. We found, what we hoped, was going to be a better home for her: a mesquite covered pasture, where she was later joined by Pepe, an ancient, toothless burro who had been confiscated by the police because he was being so badly abused. As in the southeastern US, an animal has to be pretty awfully treated to get the attention of the authorities.

So Pepe and Rosie lived together, he getting his multiple machete wounds treated, and she getting Cisplatin injections for the sarcoid tumor that had formed where the end of the fractured bone pushed on her skin. Talk about bad luck.... She had no reason to like any humans and, because every time she saw us it meant injections, she wasn’t that thrilled with us either. Then, after a couple of years, the stray dogs in the city became worse, and a pack attacked the burros one night. It appears that Pepe did a brave job of protecting his ‘girl friend’, Rosie, as he took the worst of the injuries. After our crew cleaned the wounds and sutured where appropriate, Cindy and I looked at each other and said: “ We can’t leave them here”. This started an odyssey that would fill a short story, if not the better part of a book. It included a flamboyant Mexican horse hauler, a GoFundMe campaign (thank you donors!), extended quarantine in Del Rio (Texas) with a bunch of cowboys who had NO idea of why anyone would bring a couple of burros from Mexico, Pyroplasmosis testing, a Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) outbreak, and choice between legal ‘immigration’ and swimming the Rio Grand (more expensive, but we went legal).

The short version is that we bought a pickup and trailer, sight unseen, on Criag’s List (my advice: not a good idea) and flew to San Antonio to bail our two burros out and bring them back to California. They were released at 5 PM on a Friday afternoon and we loaded up and headed north. Going straight west was out, because a VS (see above…) outbreak in Arizona and New Mexico meant that if we had to unload them in those states for some reason, we’d never be allowed in to California. Given that the truck we’d bought had some significant issues, breakdown was a real possibility. So we headed for I-80 at Cheyenne.

From the start, the weather was awful. The night we left there were 12 people drowned in Ciudad Acuña, right across from Del Rio. We pulled over in Midland, because the rain reduced visibility to nothing, and a lightning bolt crashed a telephone pole right across the street. Though the trailer was sound and dry, it was clear that the burros would need some more insulation from the cold as we went further north. Tack shops that might have appropriate blankets are not generally open in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, but wait(!) Walmart IS. Cindy went in to the first “Wally” emporium that we could find and bought extra-large sweatshirts for the burros. Now these guys grew up in the campo, no hoof trimming or horse blankets, but they are burros. So one just lifts a fore leg, slips it into a sleeve, does the other side, and they look at the cloth as if to say “this is weird” (esto es raro). Then they went back to munching hay in the trailer.

So we ‘kept on truckin’ up through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and then home. We stopped at Pilot, Loves, and Flyin’ J for fuel and to let the burros walk around a little, getting some looks from the big rig drivers in the process. Like good donkeys (are there any other kind?) they got used to it all, loaded and unloaded without complaint, and kind of seemed to enjoy the adventure.

That was some 5 years ago. We lost old Pepe last year, and I mourn him all the time. Rosie, who was pregnant when we hauled her, has her daughter (Carmelita!) to boss around, along with all the other’s. Her sarcoid has been cured, and, though she has virtually no teeth, she is doing well with supplementation of Equine Senior, with a little bit of psyllium to keep things from getting clogged up. She even made it to the Donkey Welfare Symposium last fall. Not bad, for a creature who has really seen it all, yet takes life a day at a time. Maybe that is the message of donkeys, endure the bad parts, and just enjoy the good ones. She is having a good time now.