Donk dontology drama

I arrived home from work last night to find Rubi standing chewing a piece of nylon string. I leapt out of the car and ran into the field to grab it from her before she could swallow it. Bales of straw, alfalfa and forage always come tied with nylon string. I am usually very vigilant and never leave any of this in the donkeys’ field, but this three foot length of string had been left on the ground. As I prised her mouth open to retrieve the string, I saw to my horror that her two incisors were dangling by their roots! Her lower mouth was full of blood.

My first thought was that she had been kicked in the mouth by Matilde. I couldn’t think of any other way she would have lost her front teeth. I phoned the vet immediately and explained the situation, but no visit was possible before 10 o’clock on Saturday. I made Rubi comfortable in the stable and separated the others from her with electric fencing. I washed her mouth and comforted her with cuddles. I restricted my judgment of Matilde to simply saying, “If you have blighted my Rubi’s life, I’ll be speaking to you later!” That made light of how I felt. To be honest, I was very upset. I did not sleep much last night. I lay awake wondering how Rubi could browse the grass in a pasture without front teeth for another thirty years of her life… The demons of the night played on my mind and I woke up depressed, the weekend ruined.

Mid-morning, friends Cait and Andrea arrived for some Saturday morning donkey walking. Regarding Rubi and waiting for the vet’s arrival, we had all begun to think about the possibility of milk teeth now, hoping for the best. I had not considered it before. Then the equine vet, Alicia, arrived. There was one surviving incisor tooth dangling in Rubi’s mouth, which Alicia removed. Then she cleaned up the gums and showed me the new teeth coming through. Rubi had simply shed her milk teeth and was growing her new adult incisors. What a relief!

Alicia the vet drove away and Cait, Andrea and I took the donkeys for their Saturday walk, wity the foals doing their usual circus act, more leaping than walking. But all the way, I was looking back at Rubi in relief. A sleepless night of worry had now resolved into a bright warm day of normality in the life cycle of an animal I love. It was simply a stage in her life. Rubi is nearly three and her milk teeth are being shed at the same time she should begin to wean her foal, Morris. Lively little 6-month old Morris who is now experimenting with his sexual apparatus and mounting Matilde… The time-scale of developmental stages with donkeys is quite confusing! I have to pay for a vet’s visit and the tooth fairy as well, but now all i feel is relief that the lovely gentle animal is unharmed.

Meanwhile, as I end the day in relief that my lovely Rubi donkey has not lost her teeth, I have heard about a different donkey crisis. Please look at the following link, about the plight of hundreds of abandoned donkeys in the USA, victims of the economic situation caused by drought. It is so sad.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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6 Responses to Donk dontology drama

  1. karin says:

    Wow…that is a relief! I never even thought of other mammals losing their teeth! This is definitely my “something new” for the day!!

  2. karin says:

    Also…hate to tell you but abandoned animals are all over, including livestock auctions! People have been bringing them in to try and get new homes for them. Later, when the auction is finished, auctioneers suddenly find that the owners aren’t there anymore. The animals are deserted as their owners can no longer afford to feed or care for them. I don’t like to think about what happens when the auction house is left with all of these former pet horses, donkeys etc. Very sad.

  3. luisanavarro says:

    G.K. Chesterton

    When fishes flew and forests walked
    And figs grew upon thorn,
    Some moment when the moon was blood
    Then surely I was born;

    With monstrous head and sickening cry
    And ears like errant wings,
    The devil’s walking parody
    On all four-footed things.

    The tattered outlaw of the earth,
    Of ancient crooked will;
    Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
    I keep my secret still.

    Fools! For I also had my hour;
    One far fierce hour and sweet:
    There was a shout about my ears,
    And palms before my feet.

  4. Frere Rabit says:

    And tomorrow, Palm Sunday is your day, my little long-eared friend. I shall be in Orihuela for the Palm Sunday processions.

  5. toadspittle says:


    Watching the processions.
    All great fun, but blimey, it is silly!

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    Yes Paddy, but they take it all very seriously in Orihuela. Only problem seems to be that they mostly like dressing up as Roman soldiers, which seems to me to be on the wrong side. Hey ho…

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