Donkeys are steady, reliable, live longer on less food, are generally less finicky than a horse and of course, who can resist those ears!
And talk about versatile! There was a time when the lowly long-ear’s only lot in life was to be a beast of burden, banished to the fields. Today, donkeys are sought out as riding animals, livestock companions, novelty cart-pullers and as guard animals for goats and sheep against the threat of coyote attack. They are also used to protect cows while calving. You could say we’re in a donkey ren-ass-ance! BTW, the coyote is the only natural threat to donkeys so needless to say, they are not normally fond of any canine, domestic or otherwise.
Donkeys range anywhere from 80 lb. (miniature) - 1,100 lb. (American Mammoth Donkey) but most adult donkeys weigh 500-700 lbs. Not terribly exciting until you find out they can easily carry 30% of their body weight in live load and 20% in dead weight over challenging terrains for extended periods of time. Case in point, we always recommend that our adventure seeking guests hire a donkey for the last stretch of several of our more extreme hiking and canyoning expeditions. We’ve found that even the “fittest” guest will hug the donkey in gratitude because they don’t have to return to base on their own two weary legs.
So what about the idiom “Stubborn as a mule”. Hmmmm. The truth is, we can all learn a lesson from donkey mentality. They aren’t stubborn at all, they’re smart. A donkey looks around at the situation and if they don’t like what they see, they simply will not put out the extra effort if they don’t have to. In other words, when you're working with a donkey, you have to think like a donkey: smarter, not harder.
The long and the short of it is, donkeys have been hauling our asses and cargo around for over 5,000 years and I for one just want to give them a “Big Up” and an even bigger Thank You!