Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Communing with my Donkeys

I haven't really been working that much with my donkeys lately. I've been doing some work with backing on command which Tessla has down pretty well. Marie has it down when she sees the point of it (like when I'm trying to get her to back out of the chicken coop she's followed me into while I was collecting eggs), but doesn't always get it when she sees no apparent need for her to back up. Kanemura, being so young, has the attention span of a gnat, but he still gets it occasionally, especially when there are treats involved. Anyway, the past few days have been dreary and wet, so I haven't really done much.

However, something that I do once a day or so even when I don't do any actual work with the donkeys is that I just go out in the pasture and “commune” with them. I'll stand there and let them come up to me, and I'll just pet them and love on them. Tessla is usually the first to come up to me, though sometimes Kanny or Marie will get to me first. Tessla appreciates any attention that I give him, but he particularly likes having both sides of his face rubbed at the same time. Marie likes having me gently stroke upwards on the center of her face and really, really enjoys having me rub the insides of her ears. Kanny will get impatient when I'm paying too much attention to one of the other donkeys and will push his way between us. (Something that I am working on fixing. I don't mind him pushing Tessla around (Marie doesn't stand for him pushing her around), but he needs to respect MY space.) I haven't found any one place to scratch or rub that Kanny really likes, he just seems to want to be the center of attention. Sooner or later, he and I will figure out what he especially likes. Anyway, I'll spend anywhere from five minutes to an hour just communing with them.

Of course, it's not always all three of them. Usually all three will come up at first, but sometimes one or two of them will wander off and I'll spend time with the one or two that remain. And if I stay out with them for any length of time, they'll usually come and go a bit. So that at times I'll have all three with me, at other times. I'll just have one or the other with me. When I was first taming Marie and Tessla, I would do this with treats as part of the training process. Now... I don't know if it really accomplishes much as part of their training. Though I suppose it helps to maintain their trust and affection for me, and that makes working with them easier. But, regardless of it's practical use, I've found it very therapeutic for myself, especially when I've been stressed or depressed. Something about just standing there petting them is very relaxing.

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