“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude,
then animals are better off than a lot of humans“~ James Herriot
The trailer pulled out to the barn and the precious cargo was unloaded, a 7 month old donkey that I had named Willow. When I had put the word out to my friend Jane that I wanted a donkey, it became her mission to make it happen. I’m also lucky enough have another friend, Lois, who has the ability to make horses appear on my farm like magic 🙂
Willow is the first donkey I have ever owned so I set out to read everything I could to make sure that she and I started out on the right foot/hoof. Little did I know that Willow would soon become the teacher and I the student as she settled in on our farm.
Willow’s first introduction was to Henry, our dog, to make sure she understood that he was a part of our family. One of the reasons of owning a donkey is to keep away coyotes so donkeys dislike dogs that are not part of their family. Little did I know that this first encounter would begin Henry’s love affair with Willow.
I had no idea that Henry would display such love and affection to Willow by licking her on the nose and laying on his back in front of her to show his submissiveness. Then it was play time, Henry started running around Willow and she joined in the play chase. Every day since their first meeting, Henry goes out into the pasture to greet Willow and have playtime with his new friend.
Life Lesson #1: You never know who could end up being an important person in your life so keep an open mind.
When you are adding a new member to any herd/pack/flock, there are always lots of adjustments until everyone decides who fits where and who will teach the newcomer the rules. My two horses, Gabby and Joleen, would become Willow’s new herd mates so the introductions started slowly, first over the fence so everyone could touch noses and smell each other. After a day of that it was time to put the “herd” together and this is when Willow really became the teacher, reminding me of some very important things that are easily overlooked in our lives.
Gabby, the leader of the group was the hardest nut to crack but Joleen’s mothering instincts had kicked in so she was much more receptive and tolerant of Willow. Willow knew that time was on her side where Gabby was concerned so she was never pushy and gave Gabby his space.
Life Lesson #2: Patience really is a virtue.
Every time Gabby would pin his ears and try to keep Willow away from food or water, Willow would wait and slowly move in as Gabby was leaving or sneak around to the other side.
Life Lesson #3: Sometimes you have to find other ways to get to your goal so don’t give up.Click to Tweet!
Despite the ups and downs of settling in, Willow is always happy to see me at the gate, wants to be close to me and the other horses (and of course Henry), runs, plays and doesn’t worry about laying down around Gabby and Joleen. She takes everything in stride.
Life Lesson #4: Sometimes you just have to trust that everything is going to be okay.Click to Tweet!
Donkeys have a reputation of being stubborn and sometimes they really do earn it. But most of the time when they appear to be unwilling to do something they are simply analyzing the situation deciding if it is in their best interest.
Life Lesson #5: When you feel passionate about something in your life dig in your heels and stay strong.Click to Tweet!
Willow in her short time with us on Big Sky Farm has been an inspiration and wise teacher at her young age. Her patience and go with the flow attitude helps me remember what is truly important in my day to day life.
We all need that little reminder to awaken the inner wisdom we all possess and we never know who will spark that awakening. For me, Willow has been my spark and I know that she will continue to remind me of the important lessons in my life.
Look around you and see who may be teaching you some life lessons today. I would love to hear about any animal teachers in your life and what you have learned from them. Share your stories in the comment section below.
Share the love of this post with someone in your life who might need their inner wisdom awakened and let a little donkey name Willow ignite that spark for them.