Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Face Of Lonliness


 Animal lovers have differing opinions on the emotions of pets. Some think they feel as deeply as we do while other think not so much.

Not having applied for an large grant money that would allow me to do extensive research in this area I can only report what I see.

Ennis is lonely.

When our miniature donkey died unexpectantly last month. ( See A Donkeys Tale) I knew Ennis would miss her pasture buddy but I did not expect to feel it along with her.

She has been very quiet, mopey, distant. She is eating and drinking but without joy. The first few days she looked confused and that face changed to just plain sad. She would stand for long periods just looking out away from the barn. She would even turn her back to me when I came in the pasture to feed her.

She has never been a disrespectful type...until recently.

Sure I could've rushed out and gotten another donkey or a goat or maybe even threw a calf in with her but I think that would've been insulting.

Doolin was not a donkey whose hooves could so easily be filled. So instead of pushing another bunkmate on her, I have taken the time to just BE with Ennis.  Now instead of tossing her some hay and hurrying about the rest of my day, I open up the doors of our tack shed and sit in the wicker chair in back.

While she nibbles at the fine pieces of hay on the tack room floor we chat. We share a few memories and admit to each other that yes, Doolin was a real ass sometimes, but now that's he's gone, well we miss him. We really do.

At first, right after Doolin died, Ennis was very detached from me. Walked away when I petted her. Avoided eye contact. Wouldn't return my calls. But this last week its gotten better, After weeks of acting as if she really did not need me at all she has started nickering when I come out of the house.

And she leans into instead of away from me when I groom her.

Yesterday she put her face on my shoulder and grudgingly admitted she too was looking forward to spring and maybe a few rides.

A big improvement over the day I caught her with my laptop listing all her and Doolin's tack on Craig's list. Grief runs on its own time schedule.

Even for horses who lose their little donkey buddies.


  1. Any chance of finding a new buddy for her? A goat, or sheep, maybe? If Doolin was replaced by another donkey, she may be suspicious.

  2. Awww.....good grief therapy both you and Ennis I think!!

  3. When my wonderful gelding lost his mom he changed from a somewhat cocky teenager type to a more reserved young man. For almost a week he followed the path from the barn to the gate (we had to drag her to the burial place, burying a large animal is an ugly process) with his nose on the ground. He would then stand at the gate as if waiting for her to return. About broke MY heart. So yes, they do feel, and deeply.