In Texas, and I imagine elsewhere, seeing a donkey grazing in the cow herd isn’t unusual. Although donkeys are friendly creatures and enjoy the company of their bovine friends, they aren’t in the herd for social reasons. The ranchers allow donkeys because they’re good guards.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the guard donkeys consider the cattle more than friends, but rather family. Because donkeys like companionship, they become attached to those they spend time with. Of course, they want to protect their family.
People say donkeys are good guards because they have a natural aversion to canines, thus will chase off coyotes, wolves, or wild dogs. I’m not sure about the “natural” aversion. We’ve had our dogs and donkeys in the same yard with no problems. I do know our donkeys will become nervous and alert us when the coyotes howl.
Donkeys are territorial and defend their home when a predator comes into the area. Although they mix with any herd well, when a newcomer comes into the pasture, the donkey wants to know what’s going on.
Jeb has no specific herd to protect, but he does protect his corner of Peaceable Kingdom. The primary pasture is near the front gate. When a vehicle is coming into the driveway, Jeb makes his way to the gate and signals with loud braying someone is coming. Sometimes I’m sure he’s hoping the someone is a delivery driver who will leave the boxes on his side of the gate so he can make a snack of the cardboard boxes.
Why donkeys rather than dogs for protection? They mix with the herd. They are less prone to wander off. Plus, they live longer.
Know Thy Guard Animal
Not all donkeys are good at guarding. A jenny with a foal is the best choice when possible. Her natural mothering instincts lead her to be a more alert protector. A john (a gelding) is less aggressive than a jack (intact male) and will mix with the herd well. Jacks are the least desirable because they may also be aggressive with those they are to protect. You know, boys will be boys.
A rancher should know his guard animal well. It’s more than the proverbial guardian angel.
Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts. Psalm 121:5 tells us God is our guardian (MEV). And he protects us from all evil (v. 7). What better protector could we have than the ultimate guardian of the universe?
We need to put our guard donkey in our herd daily. God is part of our lives just as a guard donkey is part of the cattle herd. He knows the predators in our lives, just as the donkey knows the predators of the cows. If we let God roam our pasture, he will protect us. Like the rancher, we need to know our guardian and make him a daily part of our lives.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
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This post taken from Donkey Devos: Listen When God Speaks by Susan K. Stewart.
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Copyright 2021, Susan K. Stewart, Donkey Devos: Listen When God Speaks, Elk Lake Publishing.
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