Visiting the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge Society is as educational as it is pleasurable.
These gentle creatures are more than willing to return the affections of anyone with emotional or physical need. They are protective and sensitive, therapeutic in nature.
Shirley Mainprize and Rob Miller started out small, rescuing one donkey at a time. The herd has grown greatly over the fast five years, beyond expectations. They operate totally by donated funding, dedicating most of their energies to protecting and nurturing miniature, standard, and mammoth-sized donkeys.
There is also a ‘special needs’ barn, where animals injured psychologically or physically are segregated, to avoid further risk of harm.
Miller was given instructions several years ago to get his affairs in order, expecting to have succumbed to the effects of leukemia five years ago. He attributes his new lease on life, now with cancer in complete remission, directly to the therapeutic interaction with the donkeys.
Donkeys were brought to North America with Christopher Columbus. Useful for all sorts of work, they packed heavy loads over great distances, without frequent food or water.
Miller points out a marking on one particular donkey, a dark line across the back and shoulders, considered royalty in lineage. The marking is called a cross; any animal having it is related to the donkey Jesus’ Mother Mary rode to Bethlehem where she gave birth.
Burros are wild donkeys, their teeth are naturally worn down due to desert sand in their food. They also like to eat trees which keep teeth trimmed.
“Donkeys are great for clearing trees out of an area,” Miller says.
He points to a herd up the hill doing a job in an area in need of clearing.”
Animals come to the refuge in distress, some with dental problems such as overgrown teeth to the point where they can’t eat.
Donkeys are a commitment as they have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. Mainprize and Miller give hands-on care to the donkeys, bringing in professional veterinarians where there is a need.
Information regarding each of the donkeys lines the walls on the inside and outside of the barns. Miller knows each by name, explaining in detail the personality traits.
Donkey Days is happening June 23 and 24, an annual celebration at the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge. Fun family events are planned for both days with some great entertainment in store.
• Music schedule for Saturday, June 23: 10 to 11 a.m – Hypnotic Blend; 11 to noon – String Benders; 12 to 1 p.m. – Tracy Jones Duo; 1 to 2 p.m. – Kamloops Fiddlers; 2 to 3 p.m. – Tyler Neeley; 3 to 4 p.m. – Chris Stevens and Denise Ford – piano and banjo.
• On Sunday, June 24th the music schedule is: 10 to 11 a.m. – Hypnotic Blend; 11 to noon – Monique; 12 to 1 p.m. – Ken Firth, Dust Puppets; 1 to 2 p.m. – Carlin Xing; 2 to 3 p.m. Chris Stevens and Denise Ford; 3 to 4 p.m. Blu and Kelly Hopkins.
For more information on the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge, see their web page at: www.turtlevalleydonkeyrefuge.com.