Last weekend I drove to Atlanta to pick up a little donkey that I used to own that wasn’t working out in his new home. His new owner was great, but he’s a young, rambunctious donkey and he was becoming a bit mischievous and pesky. We all agreed it would be best if I came and got him and brought him to live here on the island. Thankfully the barn owner where my big horse lives was open to having him here. I take animal ownership very seriously, and I made a commitment to my donkey to always make sure he’s safe and cared for. When he needed me, I was happy to go get him. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished!
On Sunday I got up at 3 a.m., hoping to be loaded up and on the road by 5 a.m. at the latest for the 10 hour trip back to NC. The first part of my day was a harbinger of things to come. It started out crap and it stayed crap all day! Rusty the Donkey got in the trailer pretty quickly, but I was alone in the dark and couldn’t get the door shut fast enough. He backed out of the trailer and decided he didn’t feel like a road trip after all. It took 2 and 1/2 hours to get him back in. It is exceedingly difficult to load a reluctant equine by yourself. It’s so much easier to do when you have at least one other person to help. I didn’t get on the road til 7 a.m., a full two hours later than I had hoped. I wanted to be back at the barn in NC before dark so that Rusty could acclimate to his new surroundings before the sun went down. None of my plans worked out that day!
It rained the entire trip from Georgia to NC. It rained and rained and rained some more. I never drive very fast when I’m towing horses, but the rain slowed me down even more. I was trying to stop as little as possible, to minimize the time Rusty had to be in the trailer. Trailering is HARD on horses. It’s uncomfortable and stressful for them, especially if they’re not used to it. I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, my chihuahua, who always travels with me, got sick. She started acting squirrelly in the truck and before I could pull my rig over, she exploded diarrhea all over the front seat. It dripped down between the seat and the center console. All I had was a few McDonald’s napkins left over from my Egg McMuffin breakfast. I used those up and had to run into a gas station and take paper towels from the restroom. It was AWFUL. The smell was overwhelming. I cleaned it up as best I could and got back on the road.
I hoped it would be a one and done, but no, a little while later she exploded again. I had to pull over, get more gas station paper towels and clean up more dog crap. This time she got it all over her little dog bed and, even though I cleaned it up, it still stunk to high heaven. If I turned on the heat, the truck smelled like hot dog crap. If I turned off the heat, I was cold and still smelled dog crap. It was miserable. It was so bad that I lost my appetite and didn’t eat anything except a granola bar for the rest of the day.
We were trucking on down the road and started to get close to home. I thought the worst was over when I began to get passed by fire trucks and ambulances. I was almost to a gas station I always stop at that has a little cafe that serves the very best barbecue sandwich in the whole wide world. The gas station sits right before you cross the bridge over the Alligator River. Turns out there had been a major accident on the two lane bridge, and all traffic was stopped in both directions. I was able to pull into the gas station and offer Rusty some water, but the gas station was closed so the barbecue sandwich I had looked forward to was a no go.
I waited there about 45 minutes while they cleared the accident and re-opened the bridge. A little while later, we finally made it onto the island. I though the worst was over. Oh, how wrong I was! My dog didn’t want to sit in her seat because she had crapped all over it, so she was sitting in my lap. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she puked all over me. It wasn’t enough that I smelled faintly of dog crap; now I was covered in vomit as well. I had nothing to clean it up with and no stores or gas stations were open at that time of night on the island. It’s a ghost town here in the winter. I just let it dry on my shirt and felt even more disgusting.
Finally, around 8 p.m., we pulled into the barn where it was still raining. I wanted to put Rusty into the barn for the night, since he was wet and tired and it was pitch dark outside with no light for him to explore a new paddock. Easy, peasy. I’ll just put him in the barn with some hay and water and he’ll be good til morning. My barn owner was kind enough to set up a stall for him with a big tub of hay and water, all ready and waiting for him.
Somewhere, some maniacal beings were laughing at my optimism. Rusty absolutely refused to enter the barn. He would put his front hooves over the threshold, but flat refused to go any further. He didn’t like the rubber mats on the floor and didn’t want to walk on them. I pulled and I pushed and I cussed and I begged and I prayed to God to have mercy on me and let this troublesome donkey just go in the barn for Christ’s sake. I couldn’t even put him in the pasture because it was so flooded that he refused to walk through the water to the gate.
We stood in the rain. I was pretty much on the verge of melting into a puddle of dog crap, vomit, and tears when the barn owner realized my distress and came outside to help me. She was great. At that point, I just needed some moral support and for someone else to take over. We tried for a while more and then decided to try to take him around back and enter the back door of the barn. Do you know that little turd donkey who would not step on rubber mats walked over top of plywood, sand piles and God knows what else in the pitch dark to go through the back gate and into the barn the back way? All told, it took 3 hours to get him into the barn. I was so relieved I could have fainted, and almost did because I hadn’t eaten all day and my blood sugar plummeted.
I was in my bed by midnight and asleep within 2 minutes. Rusty was none the worse for wear the next morning. He greeted me bright eyed and bushy tailed after eating all of his hay and drinking plenty of water. It was honest to God one of the worst days of my life, not in terms of anything tragic happening, and I know it could be much worse, but in terms of inconveniences and frustrations all piled on top of each other. There really isn’t much that’s worse than being locked in a small space with the powerful smell of dog doo!