A Donkey In My House
The Baby Donkey That Changed My Life
Shadow Fox was the second donkey born on our farm. We had bought his mother already pregnant. The other donkey we bought with her had her baby 7 days before Shadow was born. His name was Tiny Tim. He was born with his leg bent backwards, so our donkey experience did not start out well. We now had a baby donkey with a leg cast. So when Shadow was born we were hoping for everything to go well. No such luck
ShadowClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Rough Start
It was an extremely cold April day when Shadow was born. And in the next week the weather just kept getting colder and colder. He was very weak when born, but that is not too unusual. But then things went downhill. He was not even trying to nurse. We tried helping but he was not showing any interest and Roxanne was not holding still and did not seem like she wanted to feed him. He was not her first baby, we had been told that she had one baby before Shadow. So first time mother was not the problem. The vet was called and after several attempts to milk Roxanne to bottle feed things got desperate. He would not nurse on a bottle and was getting weaker by the minute. The vet had to put in an IV to try to build up his strength. I laid in the shelter with him to keep him calm but it was so cold that the decision was made that we would have to take him from Roxanne and bring him in the house. My life now revolved around this tiny life the was barely hanging on.
My 4 Legged Baby
Bringing My Baby Home
We set up a pen in our attached garage for Shadow. We tried feeding him a bottle. He did not nurse, no matter what we tried. I got some of the foal lac pellets and had to put one pellet at a time in his mouth and he would chew it. It would take several hours to feed him, then it would start again. The first few weeks were tougher than when I had my first son. There was no sleep and some times I would curl up with Shadow in his pen and catch a few minutes of sleep. Somehow him and I survived this. He started to get stronger then another setback hit. The IV leaked under his skin and he had an allergic reaction to it. It burned his skin and I had to start putting salve on it twice a day. He was on pain killers and antibiotics. His skin started to heal, then one morning I checked on him and his eye was swollen shut. Another call to the vet. I should have just given her a room in our house I had her over so much. He somehow got an infection in his eye and lost sight in it. At this point I asked the vet if I was being selfish keeping him alive while he was suffering. But she said as long as Shadow was fighting, I should fight too. He thought I was his mom. When I came home as soon as he heard my voice he would start braying. When I walked into the garage he would start bouncing around, he was so excited. He was such a bright spot in my day. Every spare moment I had I spent with him. He came through all of it somehow. I started taking him for walks outside. It was so cute. He would walk beside me but if something scared him he would run behind me and peek around my leg. He was my baby. I would sing to him and put a radio in the garage for him. He would fuss if someone turned the radio off. He also had a security blanket. There was a towel I hung on his pen and he would grab it in his mouth and carry it around. When I would take him outside he would carry it with him. His legs were weak from being immobile for a while at the start of his life. So I worked with him to help build his strength back. It was a lot of work and exhausting but I would not trade it for anything. He was a joy to have.
Shadow is Growing Up
In August Shadow was rapidly outgrowing the pen in the garage and I reluctantly admitted he needed to go outside. We put him in with Tiny Tim the donkey that had been born a week before him. Tiny's leg had healed and he was doing very well. He was very small so I thought he would make good company for Shadow. They hit it off very well. Shadow at first didn't know who or what Tiny was. But I stayed in the pen with him and he finally came out from behind my legs and started to run around with Tiny. They became inseparable. I bought the junior equine feed and Shadow and Tiny ate that along with hay and both seemed healthy and happy. I would still take Shadow out for walks with me and I was so happy that he was doing so well
Goodbye To Shadow
Shadow was doing great outside. I spent time with him every day. Him and Tiny were inseparable. He was healthy and happy. He was a big eater. Loved to go for walks. I began to relax. But I celebrated too soon. On Thanksgiving morning I went out in the morning like usual. I found Shadow in the barn. He was on his side and was having trouble breathing. I tried to get him on his feet but he was too weak.
I called the vet and God bless Dr. Hamilton she came over quickly. We put him on a tarp and carried him down to the garage. She put in an IV and I was having horrible flashbacks to when he was born. Here we were again in the garage and Shadow was fighting for his life.
There was no Thanksgiving dinner for us. Most of my time was spent in the garage with Shadow. I had a pile of blankets on the floor and I laid down with him so he would know he wasn't alone.
My kids would come in and stay with him while I took small breaks. Then at 2 in the morning, I was laying with him, we were facing each other and he started to struggle to breath. I knew it was time to say goodbye. I kissed his head and held him and told him it was OK to go. I am starting to cry while writing this. It was one of the hardest nights of my life. He sighed a big sigh and was gone. I stayed with him for a few more minutes, then woke the kids to tell them Shadow was gone. We cried together and did not really sleep at all that night.
I will never regret the time I spent with Shadow. He was an incredible animal that was so loving. I never counted up the amount we spent in vet and medication bills. Not to mention job hours missed. That never mattered. He was my baby and I will always miss him.
There have been a few theories as to what happened to Shadow. Since his mother never nursed him and he couldn't nurse in the beginning, some have suggested he had problems we couldn't see and that is why his mother didn't nurse him. He had something wrong.
Another theory suggested is that since he was on so much pain medicine and antibiotics for so long that it damaged one or more of his organs.
He died of systolic failure. What caused it I cannot say. I can only say that he touched a lot of lives and there are a lot of people that will never forget him.