Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Damned If I Do - But Saved By a Butterfly

After my near-death experience with the plastic shavings bags (I think I had an out of body experience but the woman says it was just gas from being overwrought) I thought it best if I began a self-help program. I believe the first step in a successful desensitizing program is to get as close to the feared object as possible without inducing a sense of panic. My planning was impeccable.

We were nearly out of bedding by Monday and so the woman summoned the persons who supply us with shavings, which of course come in those dreadful plastic bags. All four of us feel compelled to assist with the delivery and unloading of anything destined for our use and so we lined up at the gate to give advice and helpful hints. We're so helpful that the woman had an extra, and of course unnecessary, gate installed to keep us at a distance.

When the shavings humans left, we discovered that they had stacked the front row of bags directly against the gate that keeps us out of the storage area. I spent the rest of the morning just staring at the unmoving mound of plastic rectangles. By dint of deep breathing and some basic meditation techniques, I edged my way over to within a few inches. Still they remained unmoving, so I casually brushed one with my muzzle. I took the precaution of springing backward with a great snort, but still the thing just sat. Time for some retribution, I thought, and pinched a hole in the plastic with my front teeth. A small avalanche of shavings poured forth. I methodically worked my way through all the rows, pinching holes in each bag until there was a mountain of shavings at my feet. "Take that, you dastardly cowards", I said, , as each bag fell victim to my razor-sharp teeth, "vengeance is mine at last!" I was euphoric. And of course you can guess who runined it all.

She completely misunderstood my motives and scolded me for being a self-centered, thrill-seeking vandal. She threatened to make me WEAR one of the terrible bags as a hat! That completely and utterly undid all of my self-therapy work and when she dragged out the first somewhat depleted bag for our bedding, I succumbed to my usual panic attack and bolted for the trees. "You don't see Jack up to this sort of nonsense", she shouted after me. Of course not - his teeth just aren't up to it anymore so the whole burden falls on my shoulders. She's completely gormless and without empathy for a donkey's emotional state.

Fortunately, my good friend Billie, human to Rafer and Redford the donkeys, has sent me a Butterfly Award for my scribblings on everyday life here at the Gulag. SHE understands the inner life of donkeys and I am most appreciative of her recognition. You can read her blog at And be sure to linger over the photos - you can actually see how much warmer it is than here at this Siberian outpost. Thank you Billie.


Dougie Donk said...

Our woman recently embarked on what she called "clicker training" to help my big friend Flynn overcome his fear of plastic bags.

This form of torture works on the theory that she clicks a strange device every time Flynn touches the plastic bag & then he gets a treat. She believes that he will eventually feel chilled out every time he hears a click & will desist from running away whenever she opens a shaving bag.... doesn't seem to have figured out that he just keeps acting afraid so that he gets more treats!

Your own desensitisation training sounds much more satisfactory - revenge is sweet.

We now have 4 inches (10 cm) of snow, a very thick freezing fog and a temperature of -4C. Brrr! fortunately the human puts hay in the field, but leaves the stable doors open so we can choose whether or not to go out.

I remain hopeful that Santa Claus will meet my request for a infra-red heating lamp in my room :)

billie said...

Thanks, Sheaffer, for the nice words! Anything I know about the inner workings of donkeys, I have learned from you and the other wonderful donkeys who comment here, so thanks to all of you!

Rafer Johnson had his hooves trimmed for the first time since the break this week, and he was a total sweetheart - offered his feet up to the trimmer and stood like a little soldier. And the trim has made a huge difference in his movement. He is doing so well.

Sheaffer, I'm so sorry the woman did not appreciate your quite advanced psychological desensitization process for exactly what it was. Instead of scolding, she should have taken photos and submitted a paper to the appropriate psychology association! I feel sure it would have become yet another credit in your distinguished portfolio.

Clearly you have been given the woman as a very special project - eventually she will see how miraculous you are and things will change.

For some reason I'm thinking of the movie It's A Wonderful Life. :)

Anonymous said...

Dougie - We are anticipating "lows" of -16 C this weekend. Brrr. Not sure how much more fur we can grow in the intervening two days.

Sheaffer - what's the word on the Microscopic Rescue Felines? Has a diplomatic mission been sent to Violet? Is she going to prorogue the issue until January? Will she call for a vote of confidence and be defeated at that time? Tell all!

ponymaid said...

Dougie, clicker training, eh? Not sure I like the sound of that - maybe best to just grab the thing and swallow it before Flynn becomes completely unhinged. He sounds like a large lad to have running amok. Frozen fog - dear lord, is there no end to the insanity? Let me know if you get the heating lamp device - I could be quite interested in one of those myself. Do you have to wear goggles while using it or am I thinking of a different device?

billie, you are a saint. Only you would be so diplomatic as to call the woman a "special project" when in fact she is my hair shirt. You can see why my nerves are in shreds. She says I need to read something called "The Relaxation Response", and warned me not to eat it before reading. I'm not surprised at all by Rafer's stellar behaviour - he is not your ordinary donkey. Maybe he would like to join me on the PBS airwaves. The woman says I would be the donkey version of Alistair Cookie - never heard of him.

Ginger, you and Fred need eiderdowns but you would have to refrain from biting holes in them. Perhaps you are too young yet to resist the temptation. You really should be in the house, of course.