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.
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.
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.
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!