jack and jenny
Here comes Jack. The tilt of his head happens when he recognizes me. Consistently I've seen that he recognizes me at about the same distance every time, about fifty feet. I walked out into the meadow today about three hours late for carrot time. Instead of calling them, I walked out into the meadow with the carrots and camera. Jack was back by Jenny when he raised his head and saw me. He started walking in curiosity. I could see he was supposing it was the ice cream man, but wasn't sure. He walks like his rear axle is askew, at a slightly sideways angle, ready to spring away if the human in the meadow were to spring a surprise on him. He walked in his wary way, looking at me steadily with curiosity. At the point where he can recognize me with certainty, his head tilts and he sets out in a casual gallop. This is more evidence of his new Alpha role. He was the one to look up first and approach the surprise human in the meadow. Jenny kept on grazing. Jenny would be the first one to notice and walk toward me when she was Alpha, and Jack kept on grazing. Jenny raised her head and began her slow walk following Jack. He galloped a few steps and slowed to a walk about ten feet from me. I handed him a chunk of carrot, talking to him. He chewed and listened. Jenny came along in her slow walk. At about ten feet from me she saw the carrots. Her ears pressed straight back to the sides of her neck, her neck and head elongated straight forward like a Marino Marini horse, she dove at me with her mouth leading the way, wanting a carrot. She came to my left side. Jack was on my right side. I was rubbing Jack's back while he chewed carrot. I positioned the camera to get a picture of her approach with head extended all the way forward and ears back, eyes flashing. I could see already it was time for me to scoot. By the time my finger clicked the button, her eye was nearly against the camera. I like the picture it made. She has beautiful eyes, Cleopatra eyes, Turkish belly-dancer eyes. She was on a tear.
Jenny swung her back end around instantly. Jack spun his back end around faster than I could see it. They started the up and down hop in back with me between them, their rumps almost touching me on either side. I stepped over toward the dogwood tree for a shield if they intended a kick fest. They hopped up and down a little bit and extended a back leg in what was more a gesture than a kick. Jenny was more interested in keeping Jack away from me than she was in having a carrot. I don't scold or punish Jenny for her jealous actions. She has jealousy strong in her nature. It's her nature. I can't change it and don't want to suppress it in her either. I live on the other side of the fence. The meadow is theirs all day and night every day. It is their territory. I honor that. A few weeks ago a half dozen people came to see the donkeys with two dogs. City apartment dogs having a country experience. Before I saw what was happening the dogs ran out into the meadow, the donkeys at the other end. I noticed what was happening when I saw both donkeys running full gallop toward us. The dogs ran under the fence in a hurry. I didn't realize dogs were in there. I was inside when they came by. I was glad when I saw that the donkeys were running toward us to get after the dogs. I saw two dogs chase them when they were new in the meadow. Now that it is their territory, I see they are not afraid of dogs anymore; they chase the dogs. I told the people with the dogs they are only safe this side of the fence. I said if a donkey kicks one, it will be a serious injury. The attitude was that donkeys wouldn't do that. I stressed what I'd said, Your dogs are only safe this side of the fence. They acted like I didn't know what I was talking about, so I shut up. I sure as hell was not going to pay the vet bill. The donkeys have taught the coyotes to leave them alone.
inside jack's mouth
inside jack's mouth
Both these pictures above I got by chance. I was wanting to get a close-up of Jack's face when he reached up and took hold of the camera with his lips. I wasn't afraid of him biting it, so I wasn't alarmed to pull back and protect the camera. He wanted to feel it. They know textures and shapes with their lips and teeth. It looks in the upper picture like Jenny broke one of Jack's teeth. The times they have taken hold of my fingers with their teeth, it is only to feel. They know each other physically and want to know me physically. I bump them with a hip, or push a rump aside from time to time, for them to experience my weight and strength, a form of communication. They like to sniff me. Donkeys use their lips like we use our hands. Jack reached out with his lips to feel the camera. I clicked. Again, he put his lips on it to get a physical notion of what that mysterious black thing is the ice cream man points at him. I knew he wasn't going to hurt the camera, so I clicked again. I'm recalling a time two sisters went into the meadow. Both donkeys were wary, standing back sideways, ready to run, donkeys looking at them curious what they were about. Both women raised their cameras to take pictures at the same time and the donkeys relaxed. Everybody who comes into the meadow holds something up to their faces when they look at the donkeys. More humans to take donkey pictures. Jack and Jenny settled down and walked to them comfortably. Their experience with people I bring to them with cameras have all been friendly and non-threatening. Jenny is partial to women. She is the gentlest I ever see her when a woman is visiting with her. A few days ago, Cheyanne, 7, was putting her hands up onto Jenny's face, even over her eye as I looked on in horror of Jenny bucking Cheyanne with her nose like she does me in fun. She didn't even flinch when Cheyanne's hands flew to her face and crawled all over it. Jenny looked like she was in bliss. Justin and I both watched in fascination with Cheyanne's arms and hands all over Jenny's face, and Jenny's nose against Cheyanne's chest, Jenny looking like the happiest donkey there ever was.
jack licks the mineral block
jack walks back to the meadow after carrots
I like the nature of my relationship with each individual donkey. I like to see how far I have come in getting to know donkey, donkey ways, donkey thinking, donkey programmed behavior, instinct. I like looking for the fine, wavering, blurred line between what is donkey nature and what is individual to the particular donkey. Their individual characteristics I think of as their personalities. Jenny is pesky and self-assertive, will bite my finger just to watch me jump. She doesn't hurt when she takes my finger with her teeth. It's donkey play. She wants to see how high I'll jump. Jack is slow and easy going, a no problems kinda guy, tough as a tree and a lively nature. Sometimes at carrot time he will take a finger with his teeth. First time, I let him hold it. He started squeezing down on it gently. I knew what he was doing from watching kittens play. He wanted to find the pressure that makes me jump. He will know when he finds that point not to bite my finger any harder than that. I feel free now with letting them take hold of my finger with a carrot. For them, it's a form of communication. I touch them with my hands. They don't have hands. The use their lips and teeth to feel. I've learned not to be apprehensive about their lips and teeth. The lips extend from the middle of the upper lip about as wide as two fingers. It acts like a wide finger and the lower lips works like a thumb. They use them to twist a tuft of grass so teeth can bite the whole tuft free at once. Now that I'm less apprehensive about their lips and teeth, it's a good time to pay closer attention to how they work their lips. They're complex. They are hyper sensitive. I have about a one inch growth of chin hair now that fascinates both donkeys. They like to feel it with their upper lips, very lightly, softly move the lip over it feeling its texture. I hadn't thought about letting them feel the top of my head. I know they're curious, because they're curious about me as much as I am about them. I'll do that next carrot time. I've been too apprehensive of them wanting to touch me. I've been reading it wanting to bite me. I remind self they don't want to hurt me. I only have to let out a little yelp when it hurts and they withdraw immediately. At first they pulled back on the verge of flight from fear they'd made me mad, even repentant. Every time one has done something like took my shirt with their teeth and wouldn't let go, they love to do that, it always gets me going, I tell them as soon as they let go, it's ok, I'm not mad. They settle right down and we're back to like before. I'm catching onto their sense of humor, what constitutes play and fun for them. I had never been interactively aware of my pets' sense of humor until the donkeys taught me.
jenny and jack
jack and jenny