Donkeys-For-Good: Meet Esther
January 17, 2019
To raise awareness about Latham Centers’ Asinotherapy Program, we’ve launched this entertaining and informative blog series featuring our six miniature donkeys: Esther, Esau, Moonbeam, Curley, Angus, and Jake. Be sure to check in regularly to learn about the donkeys and the important role they play at Latham Centers.
“A rose among the thorns” is how the other members of the Latham herd refer to Esther. She is a rare beauty, a former prize-winner on the National Miniature Donkey Association show circuit, and the only “jennie” or female among the six Latham donkeys. Before coming to Latham, Esther traveled to donkey shows and to visit friends in the backseat of a minivan – no rattling, exhaust-filled, drafty trailer for Esther. Esther has refined sensibilities and she enjoys lovely things, but she is quick to point out that she is always flexible and willing to “bloom where she is planted.”
“I do enjoy grazing whenever possible. There is nothing like a fresh, vibrant green pasture beneath one’s feet, but I am also partial to barley straw and I am so grateful for the exceptional care that we donkeys receive here at Latham.”
Esther has a passion for genealogy and she has tried her best to educate her herd-mates on their rich lineage. “You may be surprised to learn that every miniature donkey in North America can trace its roots to Sardinia and Sicily. The first miniatures were brought to the US by a New Jersey stockbroker. In the old country we were blindfolded and tied to grain mills where we were forced to walk in endless circles to turn grinding stones. We were useful because of our size. Some of our luckier ancestors were used to carry water and supplies into the mountains for shepherds. There are very few if any miniature donkeys left in Sicily and Sardinia. Like all donkeys, we have a proud history as service animals, but miniatures, like we Latham donkeys, have a new, modern role as companions and therapy animals. It is a new, evolved type of service to others and we are all very proud of the work that we do.”
Esther’s serene and peaceful nature draws others to her, but she is not a pushover. She is fiercely protective of those she loves, and she especially loves Esau, her longtime beau and fellow Latham therapy donkey. Esther and Esau came to Latham together. Originally from Maine, they both prefer the climate on Cape Cod to the heavy snow and colder temperatures in Maine. As part of our “Meet the Donkeys” series, we recently sat down with Esther and Esau where they shared some of their thoughts on life as a therapy donkey and the new relationships they have formed with their new Latham herd.
Esau told us, “I loved her the moment I saw her. She will tell you that it was the same for her, but I know that it took her some time to warm up. She needed to get to know me. I know that I seem like a simple guy. I’m a good guard donkey and guard donkeys can get a bad rap. We are not considered especially interesting or complex, but I am much more than a brawny protector. I can appreciate the things that are important to Esther. When she said that she wanted to leave Maine and move to Cape Cod, there was no discussion, no weighing options or other considerations. If she was going, I was going with her.”
Esther was visibly moved by Esau’s remarks. “Honestly, am I the luckiest donkey? The truth is, Esau was born to be a therapy donkey. Everyone at Latham loves Esau. Jake may be the friendliest of the herd, but Esau is hands down the most talented and hard-working — oh, and the best looking. We are herd animals. The ‘group’ is very important to us, and all of us consider the Latham children and adults part of our group. We serve each other. I cannot think of a better, more rewarding life.”
In her spare time, Esther enjoys learning tricks from the adult residents in Latham’s Asinotherapy Program. She loves to dress up for holidays and special occasions, and she and Esau are often the first to volunteer for public appearances in local parades and festivals. Esther and Esau will be celebrating Brewster in Bloom weekend and representing Latham Centers in this year’s Brewster Inn/Woodshed Bloomin’ Parade on Sunday, May 5th at 1:00 p.m. The parade kicks off at the Eddy School on Main Street and continues West on 6A to Swamp Road.