Spirit Animal

Is there such a thing as a “spirit animal”? An animal that you so closely connect with that you feel you can actually read their mind? The concept of a “spirit animal” comes from a shamanic belief of a spirt that helps, guides, protects an individual. The term also describes a character that represents your inner personality. That is how I feel about my donkey, Jack.

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Jack ambling towards me because… I asked him to do this. He has one ear “listening” to me and one ear cocked towards the side where one of my dogs is playing. Through his ears, he knows exactly what that dog is doing.Β 

Now I care very much about both of my donkeys, Jack and Jill. Maybe because Jack is more plain or because he has had a harder time in his first home that I relate to him more? Regardless, over the years I’ve owned these two donkeys, it is Jack who has come the longest distance in trusting people again. “Trust” is a huge gift to give and not something to take for granted. And it has been through that trust that we’ve been able to build more and more skills. Skills he needs to know in living his life with people.

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Sweet Jill! She is so beautiful and a great companion for Jack. As “herd animals”, donkeys need to be kept in at least pairs.Β 

My first goal with both donkeys was to rebuild their health. It took 30 months of de-worming both donkeys every 12 weeks to rid them of internal parasites. While I was told I wouldn’t even need to re-test them after that 30 month period, I did and… what a day of celebration that was to know both donkeys were now “healthy”! Other health goals included hoof care and weight management. Both are strictly monitored for their ongoing overall health including annual visits by my “farm vet” who administers their vaccinations and who has sedated them to “float” their teeth (grind down the points that can make eating painful).

Now Jill is “easy”. She has a very calm disposition and is fairly agreeable when asked to do anything. Jack, on the other hand, took a lot more time and effort to be “agreeable”. Jack now “comes” like a dog when asked. He is very smart and “thinks” (you can almost see the smoke coming out of his ears, LOL!) He enjoys learning new things; our latest skill set is teaching him to drive a cart.

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I am right next to Jack but he isn’t worried about me. Instead he is listening/watching something in the distance. Those ears are how Jack communicates his feelings/concerns.

To start this training took a lot of guidance and help. He needed to learn how to be “saddled” with the appropriate tack (and allow me to put this tack on him.) And he needed to learn to take direction from me. At present, we are “ground driving” meaning I am walking behind him signaling him when to walk (and stop). I’m also signaling turning and direction. We are practicing over and over again both learning to “read” the other… his learning to take direction from me and my learning to “listen” to his needs.

Eventually, we will train Jack to pull weight. Then train Jack to be attached to the cart. Then once Jack is safe and reliable, we will train Jack to pull the cart with my being in the cart. Whew… there are a LOT of steps! And what will I do once this training is completed? Once Jack knows his job and safely does what I’m asking him to do? I don’t know at present. The main goal is working with Jack as a team listening to each other as we practice. And spending time with Jack; being near him listening to him… The best part of my day!

What does any of this have to do with Jack being my “spirit animal”? It is through Jack I’ve grown myself. I’ve overcome my own internal emotional turmoil by putting my feelings aside and listening to Jack. I’ve cried, I’ve sang and I’ve laughed while being out with Jack. And like some magnetic force, I’m pulled out to spend time with Jack every chance I get!

I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that as long as I have Jack “in my backyard”, I can endure whatever life holds for either of us. You can’t get more spiritual than that. The “connection” to any animal is a wonderful thing. The connection with this donkey… I count as one of my many blessings!

 

4 comments on “Spirit Animal

  1. God definitely gives special connections between animals and people, Jennifer. You and your Jack testify to it. πŸ™‚ I have heard of places where abused horses are taken in, and when abused children come to the camp there, they connect in a deep way, and healing comes for both the horse and the child. I love the photos. So clear! The first one especially almost looks like a painting. Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • THANKS, Trudy… Someday I will “write about” Jack (and Jill’s) entire story. Folks think I “saved” them when in truth, I think it was the other way around! ❀

      We have a place that provides therapy for all sorts of people… developmentally different, abused, etc. I've gone and watched some of the classes. They do amazing work!! One of my neighbors donated her horse (which is why we went to see how the horse was doing in the classes). The response of people riding (and the facility and how it is run) was such a great experience!

      Re: the photos… I tried something different and of course Jack helped be my model πŸ˜‰ All of these photos were turned into a "cartoon sketch" from the original photo I took. I'm not sure what I will do with this new skill but… It was fun to learn and a chance to be more creative πŸ™‚

      Love and hugs to you too! THANK YOU for reading about my dear, sweet Jack! He means the world to me ❀ ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, yes, I am sure that God sends his dear creatures as gifts to people that He wants to bless! My daughter’s first dog was just that blessing for her, and for me also, when she was going through a very deep depression. The Lord knew that we would need “Lilly” to help us through dark days. I am so glad that Jack has learned to trust you, and that you have been so blessed by that trust!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Bettie, for reading about my dear, sweet Jack (and Jill too but Jack is the one who had the most to overcome). I’ve been truly blessed to have both come to me the way they did… Some day I will write about how that all came to be πŸ™‚

      It was because of Jack that I made it “out to the barn” after both of my spine surgeries. And it was through the donkeys I’ve met some incredible kind people that not only have helped me learn about the donkeys but… they opened my eyes about my own darkness and caused me to see light again. Every time I go out to see Jack, I remember it is because of him that I am where I am now… Looking forwards optimistically! ❀ I don't think you can get more spiritual than that! And all from this from a silly donkey that no one wanted; the donkey that means the world to me! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

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