Horses of Tir Na Nog


Gender: Mare

Breed: Burro

Approximate Date of Birth: 1/1/1989

On February 21, 2009, County of Animal Services contacted us. The E-mail was pretty simple: We have a 13 yr old female donkey here at our shelter. Her owner passed away and she is going to need a new home. She is a bit ornery . . . She does have some hair loss on her legs and is a bit arthritic, please let us know if your rescue may be able to help us out with her. Thank you.

We had only recently added Milton Burro to the herd and had already realized he was an exceptional donkey. So, it seemed appropriate that we give a "real" donkey a try. Our wonderful horsewoman volunteer Paige took time to drive to the North Shelter to meet the donkey, named China. Paige then volunteered to transport China from Palomar Airport Road to the ranch.

Once our vet checked her out, it was determined that China was probably a bit closer to 20 than to 13. "Some hair loss" actually turned out to be significant, permanent hair loss on all four of her legs. X-rays showed us that a "bit of arthritis" was calcification of her spine, which made moving painful and resulted in her spending the better part of each day lying down. But our volunteers were committed to helping her. Paige offered several homeopathic therapies. Lucy donated wonderful Silverling Herbs and Reike sessions. Jackie became her advocate. In addition, Dr. Oman from East County Large Animal Practices donated a full course of prolotherapy for her.

All of this led to a marked improvement in China’s quality of life. When Buster passed away, China immediately stepped in to fill the void in Cocoa’s life, making sure Cocoa felt safe. China became very active and enjoyed her turnout time with both Cocoa and Missy. We rarely saw her lying down.

Her medical file from County Animal Services said you couldn’t handle her feet. Thanks to Paige’s horsemanship skills, in no time at all, we were able to safely handle her feet. This became critical to her care, as the lack of hair on her legs meant she had to wear socks to protect her paper-thin skin from damage. Andrea worked hard to moisturize her skin and keep her legs healthy. Our ornery, arthritic donkey, became one of the most cared for equines on the ranch. And we loved her. She met you at the gate every time you went into her corral. Not only did she want to be out exploring, but she demanded to have her head rubbed, and boy could she rub. China also helped us develop better gate-latching skills as she quickly learned to open any gate she came across in her explorations.

Last week, unexpectedly, China began having difficulty moving. We hoped it was an abscess and had the farrier work with her. Problems continued, so the vet suggested we change pain medication. Unfortunately, nothing we did helped long-term. The bright, vivacious girl we had come to know, was struggling. Today, the vet confirmed that he couldn’t offer any additional options to help ease her pain, so the decision was made to end her discomfort. China was humanely euthanized at the ranch this afternoon, July 3, 2009. Dr. Oman applauded all of the efforts that our volunteers had put into her care. He couldn’t imagine a better life than what China had these last few months. Thank you all for giving her this precious gift.

As she slipped away, all I could think of was that if this sweet, wonderful girl is what constitutes an "ornery donkey," there will always be a special place at Horses of Tir Na Nog for ornery donkeys, thanks to her! China stole our hearts.

P.S. Cocoa had a hard time with China’s passing. So Milton volunteered to stand in as her buddy until she is feeling better!

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