Name: Highway Joe
Type: Standard Donkey
Markings: Donkey Cross
In early November 2022, late on a Friday evening, a stray jack donkey was sighted running down our local highway by our vet services administrator, Dee Joy. After running close to 15 miles, Dee was able to safely catch the now shaking and exhausted little donkey. Animal Control was called and the donkey was immediately taken to Tryon Equine Hospital for medical attention. Poor Highway Joe had “tied up” due to stress and over-exertion and was placed on IV-fluids, Niacin, B12 and Ceftioflor. Tying up, or azoturia as it is also known, is a muscle metabolism condition found in equines, often during or after exercise. This results in muscle cramping of the muscle groups along the back and hind-quarters. The muscles contract and do not relax causing pain and stiffness. If not treated, it can also adversely affect the kidneys.
Joe was thin and his white blood cell count was very high indicating infection and he had many superficial wounds. Fortunately, we were able to get him all of the medical attention he needed and he started on the road to recovery at Red Bell Run. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of Joe’s health issues. He turned out to be quite a sensitive soul and of course, he was now displaced and in a strange place with strange people, no matter how well-meaning. It didn’t help that because he was an intact jack (stallion), he had to be isolated until he could gain enough weight to be gelded. Poor Joe was treated for ulcers and although he was cossetted by the staff, it was clear that we had our hands full getting him to the point that he could be gelded and able to have some donkey companionship. This is why we always advise people that a donkey needs another donkey!
It was a slow journey for poor Joe and he had to return to the clinic for treatment several times before he was finally stabilized and could be gelded. Once gelded, he faced another two months of isolation to be sure he was sterile. Finally, Joe was deemed safe to be with other donkeys and we began trying to find friends for him. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Joe, being the sensitive type, was also easily dominated, had a persnickety appetite so had to be fed separately, and was in general a “hot house flower” of a donkey! We tried several spots, including two little geldings we hoped would be his buddies – but Joe just stood off to the side, wouldn’t defend his food and just wasn’t thriving as we had hoped.
However, in desperation, we decided to move Highway Joe up to the main donkey herd at our Longears Lodge, but placed him in separate housing with a smaller group of jennies. With Millie, Jingo and Lucky, Joe was in Heaven! He took to being the only “guy” in an all-female posse like a duck to water! Two more jennies, Gracie and Ella Grace, have since joined Joe’s little herd, and they have all become fast friends! Sometimes it takes a lot of maneuvering – and thinking – and re-thinking – to get it right for each equine! That’s what we strive to do here, and we’re so happy that Highway Joe’s health issues are behind him. This very handsome donkey is happy with his life in the company of his friends and our caring staff and volunteers!