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Viewpoint: A sign of home

The old adage that out of sadness sometimes good arises played a huge rule in the lives of a group of relative strangers recently, both human and animal. Through word of mouth, I heard of a horse, mini-donkey and a mini-horse who needed a new home. Their owner was going through life changes and because she cared so much for these animals, she decided to do what was best for them, though it was hard to say goodbye. I knew that feeling all too well and was reminded of it when I saw her mini-donkey for the first time. It has been a year since my mini-donkey died so tragically, but memories of Winston remain forefront in my mind. This little jenny brought tears to my eyes. Her buddy, oddly enough, looked like a mini-version of one of my ponies. Both were so sweet, well-behaved and obviously so loved.

The horse and I instantly connected. I could tell his soul ran deep, and he was very wise. He gently licked my hand and when I took him for a walk, it was as if we had walked that path together for many years, it was as if I was walking my old horse, Bob, who recently passed away. His aura touched me to the core.

Our neighbors were looking for a mini-donkey and a mini-horse. They too fell in love with the wee ones the moment they met. The horse would go to a relative of ours, although his uncanny resemblance to my Bob made me wish I had the room. These were undoubtedly good matches for all, and their owner could be at peace with her astute yet difficult decision. Knowing full well that helping these animals and their owner would give this sad story a happy ending, we didn’t mind doing the hauling.

We set off early that day, George’s daughters in the backseat and our trailer in tow. The neighbors drove their own car, leading the way. Though it was a long, slow ride, the discussions were lively, which made the trip less arduous.

Naturally it was heart-wrenching to see the owner give up her pets; watching her grief brought back my own. With the loss of both Winston and Bob fresh in my heart, I felt everything she was feeling. Though she expected them to be difficult to load, there was no problem whatsoever. They walked on the trailer without any hesitation, as if they knew behaving any differently would make this harder on their owner, as if they knew that all would be OK. We shared hugs and tears then set off for New Ipswich with our precious cargo.

On the way, we dropped off the big guy at George’s daughter’s house. Very comfortable with himself, he settled right in, made the rounds to say hello to the other horses in adjoining paddocks, then ate his hay. There was no squealing, no posturing, no establishing hierarchy, as is usually the case when a new equine joins the ranks. This soulful boy was the epitome of peacefulness. His serenity left its mark on animal and human alike, and all was well at the farm. I knew he was in wonderful hands, and I was at peace, too.

Then we were off to our last stop, home to Villi Poni Farm. A rain shower passed through as we parked the trailer and off-loaded at our sanctuary, before walking the minis to their new home. Shaggy, our full-size donkey, was excited to see the mini-jenny, and Ammy, our little Newfoundland stallion, was interested in the mini-horse, a gelding. They said their hellos and again there was immediate acceptance, no posturing, no squealing. Our pony mares were out in the field, only aware of the grass they were eating and not our little visitors.

We walked them over to their new home, a home that is full of life and happiness, with children and people of all ages coming and going. The minis were not afraid at all. They were curious and excited to see the piglets that live near their new pen, and the piglets squealed with excitement to see them. When the minis saw the kids, they trotted right over to see them, which brought smiles to everyone’s faces.

George took my hand. We walked down the driveway and along the field where our mares were. It was getting late, and we called to them to come home. As we passed Winston’s grave that overlooks that field, Shaggy brayed. From across the street the mini-donkey brayed back to him. Ammy, as if on cue, whinnied in turn, and the mini-horse whinnied back. I turned to watch the mares trotting up from the field to greet us. And as I did, the sun came out and a perfect rainbow appeared that started at the far edge of the field and ended over the minis’ new home. It was surreal, yet it was the perfect ending to this poignant day.

My heart was full, and to quote the owner who gave her pets up, when she expressed her gratitude for finding them good homes, my heart was smiling.

Emily Chetkowski is a children’s author who resides in New Ipswich. For more information on Emily and her books, visit www.emilychetkowski.com.

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