photo by Victoria Schroeder
When Hattie was around 34 years old, she was put up for auction to be sold for slaughter. She was incredibly underweight with long, overgrown hooves, and had clearly not been treated very well throughout her life. Rescuers from Longhopes Donkey Shelter in Bennett, Colorado, stepped in and were able to rescue all of the donkeys who were in danger that day. While most of the donkeys were put up for adoption, the shelter decided that senior Hattie had been through enough, and would stay with them for the rest of her life.
“We made that decision because we believe that animals should be treated with dignity, love, and respect,” Victoria Schroeder, executive director at Longhopes Donkey Shelter, told The Dodo. “We felt that Hattie did not receive that prior in her life and that’s why someone dumped her to be slaughtered. But since the first day she arrived at Longhopes, she has changed everyone’s life.”
Now 42 years old, Hattie is the sweetest, most understanding animal around. Despite everything she has been through, she is nothing but patient and kind with everyone around her, and can sense when someone needs a little extra help. She often cares for young orphaned or abandoned donkeys who need a motherly figure, and she’s always the first to sense when someone is nervous or upset, both animals and humans alike.
We usually have our brand-new volunteers learn their skills with Hattie,” Schroeder said. “Other donkeys sometimes get nervous when a new volunteer handles them. But Hattie knows that they are new and she lets them pick up her hooves, brush her, lead her, without difficulty. She is truly a teacher here. She always shows us the way and makes us understand that everyone needs time to learn new things and it’s OK when we make mistakes … we will get it next time.”
Hattie has truly become a mother figure at the shelter and is always around to comfort anyone who needs it — which is how she ended up finding her best friend.
Gertie was rescued by Longhopes Donkey Shelter from the same place Hattie was, just a few months apart. She was in her twenties when she was rescued, and was put up for adoption and eventually placed with a new family. The shelter was pleased that Gertie had found her happy ending — but a few years later, they found out that Gertie’s owner had gotten tired of her, and had placed her in a boarding facility all by herself. She had no one to play with and very little social interaction at all, and the shelter immediately knew they had to go get her.
“The moment we parked the truck and trailer, we could see her run from where we were,” Schroeder said. “Gertie saw us and she couldn’t believe it. She started braying so loud and was so anxious to come with us. We hugged her, kissed her, cried with her. We told her everything would be OK now and we loaded her in our trailer. We brought her back and that’s when she went to Hattie to get some comfort.”
The shelter decided that Gertie had been through enough, and would stay at Longhopes Donkey Shelter for the rest of her life. She was clearly a little shaken from her ordeal and hung out with Hattie to be comforted, as so many others had done before her. This time was different, though. Even once Gertie was feeling better, she never left Hattie’s side, and the pair are now the best of friends.
After so many years of comforting everyone around her, Hattie finally found someone to comfort her back.
photo by Victoria Schroeder
“They are always together and they cry nonstop when they get separated,” Schroeder said. “They eat together in the same stall every morning. And in the winter, even with blankets on, they still stand right next to each other for comfort.”
Hattie and Gertie love running around the shelter’s property together. While Gertie is a little on the shy side, Hattie loves interacting with people and getting lots of butt scratches, and her outgoing personality helps Gertie overcome some of her shyness. They’re absolutely inseparable, and everybody around the shelter knows them and loves watching them together.
“They hang out by the door and window of where their food is stored, and when I go in there to get their food ready, Hattie opens the door. Literally,” Schroeder said. “They also bray really loud right on the window to let you know it’s breakfast time!”
Hattie and Gertie have both been through so much in their lives, but not only do they now have a safe, loving forever home, they have each other, and they always will.