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His name was Donkey. He had never been given a proper name, one of which he could be proud, but a name meant to simplify his existence down to the bare minimum. Donkey, rock, tree. Donkey lived in a small neighboring town in a normal neighborhood. His family had a big warm barn and a large pasture. But Donkey wasn’t allowed into the warm barn, even when it was cold and wet and raining. Donkey was forced to stand outside, alone, no matter the weather. His family clearly didn’t care for Donkey. In fact, they liked to beat him with sticks and chase him. They let Donkey’s hooves grow so long that he was forced to painfully walk on his ankles, his twisted nails curling like a corkscrew towards the earth. And then one day, Donkey’s family packed up everything and moved and left Donkey behind. Donkey survived on his own for months, first eating the field bare, then eating the bark off of the trees, and finally trash and whatever else he could find. Donkey eventually got so hungry that he broke through a fence and wandered onto a busy street. A kind neighbor lured Donkey into their backyard to keep him safe and called us to help. And that is the moment when Donkey’s life changed forever.


When we first learned of a sad, lonely donkey found roaming a neighborhood and frequenting a busy street in a neighboring town, we knew we had to do something. We had recently just lost a donkey friend named JR and his best friend Oyte was in desperate need of a new companion. It seemed like fate or something like it. So we hooked up our trailer and drove to meet our lonely donkey with a trunk full of treats and a heart full of hope.


It took us 3 and a half hours to get our lonely donkey into the trailer. He was so frightened of everyone. Every once in awhile he would apprehensively approach an outstretched hand, fingers just barely touching the soft velvet of his nose before he’d stomp his feet and angrily breath through his nostrils like a bull. We didn’t blame him. We respected his distrust but knew that if we could get him to the sanctuary, everything would change for him. And it did.


The night we brought lonely donkey home we gave him a fitting name: Gandalf. We gave him a comfy stall in our warm barn with plenty of fresh hay and water, and we gave him pain medication for his sore feet. And then we gave him time. Time to meet his new family, time to adjust to his new freedom and time to get comfortable around us. We introduced him to Oyte. We had our farrier begin the long tedious process of trimming his hooves back to normal. And we waited. It only took Gandalf a few weeks to figure out that his new home and his new family was everything he had dreamed of when he was just a lonely donkey. He had friends now! And people were actually nice and brought him treats and made sure he was happy and healthy. Pretty soon he was nuzzling his soft nose under arms for hugs, leaning in for back scratches and eagerly accepting the affection of anyone he met. He and Oyte became inseparable and spent long days exploring and going on adventures. He was finally happy. He was finally home.


Gandalf and Oyte.


Kindness and care. With those two things, you can almost always change someone’s life for the better. We’re so honored to be given the opportunity to change the lives of those who need it most, but we can only continue this work with the support of our community. To help us care for Gandalf and his family as well as rescue more animals like him who need us, please consider becoming a one-time or monthly donor.