I bought my husband Dick a donkey for his 42nd birthday. I have three horses, and although Dick loves the horses, he has no desire to ride them. It was my opinion that he needed an equine to call his very own.

I went to the local horse auction, signed up as a bidder, and perused the selection of livestock in the barn. There were horses, foals, ponies and donkeys available, and I saw several animals which I thought were intere sting enough upon which to place a bid.

When the bidding began, I was more than a little surprised to see that the foals were selling for $500 to $750, and the ponies for $350 to $600. I began to think that, although I am not a tightwad, especially for Dick's birthday present, I would not be able to afford to do any birthday shopping at this auction. I was curious to see what the first donkey sold for, since I had seen her in the barn, and had determined that she was approximately one million years old (her teeth were worn down to nubs) and in questionable health (her coat had not yet started to shed even though it was May). She sold for $220.

The next donkey to come up for sale was a small, dark brown, very loud jack donkey. He was uncooperative with the cowboys, who had to use their boots firmly on his behind to get him to comply with their wishes. I purchased this donkey for $70. I immediately wondered what on earth I had done that for - and then I remembered, it was for Dick's birthday! When Dick arrived at the auction, we had the cowboys load the donkey and Dick got his first glimpse of his new birthday present, whom he promptly named DonQuixote.

We took DonQuixote to our farm, and right away the mare with whom he was to live showed him that she was in season and was quite ready and eager to bear a mule for him. We took DonQuixote to a neighbor's barn and placed him in a stall, where Dick spent several hours per day for the next three days getting to know DonQuixote and earning his trust. I knew that first on the agenda would be to have the donkey gelded, but when I called the local vet to inquire about the fee and when he could perform the deed, he said he doesn't geld donkeys, "because they bleed too much." Well, Dick was already quite attached to his donkey, and he just didn't like the idea of DonQuixote being gelded if it were to entail too much risk. So I made DonQuixote an appointment at the Big, Fancy, Highly Technological vet hospital to which I take my horses, and learned that having him gelded would cost $75 ($5 more than I paid for the donkey!). To this day, DonQuixote does not trust me because I am the one who delivered him to the vet to be gelded.

DonQuixote has lived with us for three years now; he has earned many nicknames, he possesses a great sense of humor, and he is accustomed to his routine being 'just so'. For instance, he honks at daybreak, like an enormous, exceptionally loud rooster. He honks repeatedly if you are a few minutes tardy with his breakfast or dinner, or if you forget to give him hay at the designated time.

One of the humorous incidents involving The Honkster occurred on a hot, humid summer day the first year we had him. The equines' pasture is just beyond the back yard fence, so they have a clear view of the back of the house. We didn't have air conditioning, and we regularly took dips in the little 12' diameter, 18" deep pool in the back yard to cool off. Dick was already in the pool, and I emerged from the back door wearing nothing but a hat and sunglasses. DonQuixote honked and honked and honked, as if to say, "Excuse me, you seem to have forgotten something and its absence has greatly surprised me!"

DonQuixote is a delightful fellow.

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Last modified 05.01.96