Saturday, October 6, 2007

Belle The Cranky Donkey

Hi folks!

Well, if it's Saturday, it must be barn day, because that's the day I volunteer out at the Healing Barn (check out their website at I'd been taking riding lessons out there for a few years when I decided that I wanted to learn more about horses than just how to ride them. So I talked to Nancy, who runs the place, and offered to scoop poop in exchange for some of her knowledge. She said, "Come out on Saturdays!" and I've been going ever since.

Turns out that's the day of the week she tells all interested parties to come. Some Saturdays, there are only two or three people. Other times, there's a veritable crowd of folks hoping to learn from Nancy. All the while, she's getting her barn cleaned for free!

Even so, I'm getting the better end of the deal: those horses are going to poop up the barn later the same day, but I'm learning things that will stay with me for a lifetime. In any case, over the course of my blogs, I'll tell you about some of the great horses out at the Healing Barn, but today I'm going to tell you about Sarah Belle.

Belle is an 8-year old donkey who started out in unfortunate circumstances. No one's quite sure what happened to her head before she came to Nancy's. Nancy is taking the high road and hoping that whatever it was was an accident (like maybe Belle got kicked by a horse), instead of someone hurting our favorite donkey on purpose.

The end result, though, is that some of the bones in Belle's face were broken, and they healed badly. You can see for yourself on the Critter Pics page of my website - the left side of her face is misshapen. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, but it's hard for her to see much out of that left eye because her swollen face gets in the way. As a result, she's a little wary about things sometimes. I would be, too, if I had trouble seeing.

Belle's previous owner wanted to breed Belle, but after the injury to her face, Belle didn't want anyone messing around behind her where she couldn't see them, and that put the kybosh on his breeding plans. So the owner called up the Tiger Guy - a man who rescues tigers, and other big cats - and told him to take Belle. Just like that! Apparently the owner figured, "If I can't use her, then feed her to the tigers." What a creep! Luckily, the Tiger Guy is a good man who doesn't like the idea of slaughtering healthy animals. He called Nancy, and the rest is history.

Apart from her appearance, there's nothing wrong with Belle. She's a perfectly good -if frequently stubborn - donkey who likes to keep me company when I'm cleaning stalls. She'll follow me right into the stall and hang around like there's room for both of us! Because I'm such a sucker for critters, I never make her leave; I just work around her.

So now Belle has a great forever home at the Healing Barn. She gets to live out her days swiping the horses' hay when they're out to pasture, and she never has to worry about someone hurting her again. She's safe and loved and cared for, and I for one have made it my mission in life to spoil her rotten. Which is how it should be!

That's it for now. Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

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