All types of equines are uniquely structured to process large amounts of vegetation into energy. They do this quite well. Unfortunately, some of those very structures that help them can hurt them. When an equine is born, whether it's a donkey, a pony, or a horse; things can go wrong. They can get umbilical hernias, for example. Sometimes, even years later, the damage caused by those hernias can cause problems. They can even cause the death of the animal. That is most likely what happened to Donkeyotee, one tragic morning. It was very clear that he was in pain when we went to feed him his breakfast. Through coaxing, I was able to get him loaded in the trailer for a trip to the university vet hospital. We thought it was a severe case of colic, but something much more complicated was going on. It wasn't until he was in surgery that the cause was discovered. There was a loop of intestine that slipped through an existing tear in the intestinal support structures and strangulated. The tear was as result of adhesions in the intestinal wall. The adhesions most likely go back to the original umbilical hernia that Donkeyotee had when we rescued him. It was fixed as soon as he was strong enough for surgery, but damage had already been done. He was not awakened from surgery but allowed to pass peacefully.
I cannot explain what a tragic loss my family suffered when our sweet donkey died. This was a beloved pet who loved attention and always made us smile. My husband, our son and I, mourned together. Donkeyotee was not only our farm mascot, but he was the one animal that all visitors remembered. His strong personality and playful nature was also very clear to people all over the world through his viral youtube video. He was a character. He always seemed to find new ways to make us laugh or get our attention. He would make silly faces at us, or throw a hanging halter around. He would walk up to me while I was cleaning his paddock and carefully reach over to one wheelbarrow handle, bite it, and lift it, just enough, to make it tip over and spill the contents. When he played with Phoenix, he would kneel down and nip at his chest and legs or walk by nonchalantly and then do a sneak attack and nip Phoenix's side before cantering off. I once caught him picking up a stick in his mouth and swinging it at Phoenix's front legs. Phoenix had weight and strength behind him, but Donkey was cunning. Their play sessions were a lot of fun to watch. His death left a huge hole in all our lives.
We decided, after a week of mourning, that the hole was too big and the farm was too quiet. We decided, as a family, to seek out another pet donkey. One that was different, but still a donkey. We said no brown donkeys, because Donkeyotee was brown. We like the way donkeys see the world. Donkeys were one of the first beasts of burden. Not flashy, like a horse, but they have been there throughout human history, making us laugh and appreciate life.