I really wanted to see a donkey.
As we were going over the Black Mountains of Arizona a few weeks ago, we kept seeing yellow diamond signs with donkeys on them. I hate when they put those warning signs on the road, and then you never see the animal that is on the sign. So I really, really wanted to see one.
Side note: Marnell was not quite as obsessed about seeing a donkey as I was.
Well, we came around a bend in the road, and there was a mine. With further research, I believe it was the Cuesta Fire Agate Mine. At the time, all we saw was a chain link fence, a guard house, a number of parked cars, and buildings beyond the fence.
What mattered more, was what we saw outside the chain link fence. Several cars had pulled over.
Why? It stumped me for a second. Then, I saw it.
Oh, he was so cute.
I mean, talk about ears. This animal had ears to die for. And tender, deep brown eyes. And he was really quite tame and altogether fuzzy. The man in the car beside us fed him through his driver’s window.
“Is he wild?” I asked.
“Yes,” the man said.
I had an unquenchable urge to give him a big hug, or at least touch his ears. When the other cars moved on, I approached him cautiously, so as not to scare him.
Marnell put his window down, but notably stayed in the car.
“I want to touch him,” I said. Then, to the donkey, I added, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any food.”
The donkey regarded me with several disinterested twitches of his very expressive ears. He was about as interested in me as Marnell was in him.
“He probably just wants food, not to be touched,” Marnell said encouragingly from the car.
But I tried anyway.
Finally, I touched his long face, under the dark soulful eyes. But he turned away, with his same disinterest.
Then, I remembered!
“I have a little popcorn!” I said, hurrying to the car. “Give me that leftover popcorn in the bag.” As a mainstay for fighting nausea, popcorn is something I usually have on hand on trips.
Marnell handed it out.
“I don’t want him in the car,” Marnell said as a precaution.
I approached my friend the donkey, this time with a handful of popcorn. Things went much better! He ate the popcorn out of my hand.
“It’s pretty good, I think!” I said.
“Make sure he doesn’t bite you,” Marnell cautioned.
“Oh, he’s just kind of like a cow that doesn’t really bite,” I said, remembering my childhood days with cute little calves on our hobby farm. We often stuck our fingers in their mouths and felt their warm, rough tongues.
“You say, trustworthily,” Marnell noted with skepticism.
The popcorn was gone in no time. I turned the bag inside out and let the remaining pieces fall on the ground. The donkey lapped a few up. Marnell took a further precaution of raising his driver’s side window in case the donkey identified him as the original source of the popcorn.
“I hope I have hand sanitizer in the car,” I said.
I reached out to bid my friend farewell with a parting pat.
Then, it happened.
He BIT me!
Not just a playful nip, either. That fuzzy animal with the soulful eyes clamped down on my first finger and began to drag me across the lane, toward the highway! His teeth, fiercely strong, held my finger in an iron grip, and I found myself helplessly following my finger.
In the car, Marnell watched his wife being dragged away with amazement, trying to decide his next move. Would he clobber the donkey over the head, thereby getting it to release me?
I don’t remember what I said or did, and Marnell was too astonished and horrified to take any video. All I know is, I pulled desperately on my finger, hoping to take it with me back home to Indiana. The fierce, machine-like grip made the moment seem like a long time, but in truth it was quite short.
(I wonder how much Miracle detects about her environment. I would think this one might go down in the annals of fetal nightmares!)
All that to say, finally, he let go.
“Are you all right?” Marnell asked.
“Yes,” I said a little shakily. “Took some skin off though!”
A mine worker walked out of the gate of the mine, checked in at the guard house and headed across the road to his vehicle.
“Hi, Donkey,” he said.
“Is he here a lot?” I asked.
“Yes,” the man said. Apparently he was a bit of a mine mascot.
As he walked away, I considered calling after him. Do you think I’ll get rabies? Or other diseases?
I conferred with Marnell, and walked up to the guardhouse to ask the guard.
I rapped on the window.
“The donkey bit me,” I said. “Do you think he has any diseases?”
“He bit you?” the guard asked in surprise.
“Yes,” I said, brandishing my finger which was now bleeding.
“No, just wash your hands,” he said. He pointed me toward a building inside the chain link gate and handed me a white hard hat. I balanced it on the top of my head, and walked inside the mine.
An old mountain man sitting at a table pointed me toward the bathroom. It appeared to be a kind of open air break room. I explained that the donkey had bitten me and I needed to wash up.
“Need a Band-Aid?” a younger man in the back asked cheerfully.
“Sure, I might,” I said.
I washed up, and took the Band-Aid and antibiotic gel the man handed me. I returned the white hard hat to the man in the guardhouse.
Then, I got in the car, where Marnell was patiently waiting.
We both burst into laughter.
“The donkey bit me!” I said. “What a thrill! As long as I don’t get rabies!”
Marnell kindly reminded me that he had his own voice on video saying, “Don’t let him bite you.”
I consulted with my dad for his veterinary advice, and a co-worker who has horses. They both assured me that, unless the animal was acting very strange, I was not likely going to get rabies.
Good to know!
Later, I researched and found that the CDC recorded 18 rabid donkeys in 2018. This made me a bit nervous. People usually get rabies bites from raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, and other animals that eat meat. But the occasional donkey, horse, or cow does get rabies.
I put in a phone call to the Cuesta Fire Mine, and left a message, asking them to contact me if the donkey began to exhibit any unusual behaviors.
I hope they got my message!
Even more, I hope my friend the donkey is still placidly strolling along old Route 66, begging snacks from passing cars.
Apparently, From the White House to the Amish audiobook is now available on Audible along with Apple, Nook, Kobo/Walmart, and of course right here on this website. I did not get a notification about Audible, but you can see it on Amazon here, along with a sample. I also put several items on sale on this website, as you can see here. Don’t forget, while supplies last, I’m sticking in a free sample audio CD with all paperback purchases.
Happy last days of January!