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What could be more adorable than my neighbor’s miniature donkeys? When we walk in our back pasture we often spot them out grazing. They are shy at first, but then curiosity wins out and they walk slowly toward us. Only one is brave enough to let me touch him through the fence, but I can scratch his back and stroke his soft furry face. I love their big heads and dainty feet.

Cousin Gerry was on the walk with me when we saw the donkeys. As you know he is an excellent photographer and took this beautiful shot of the three donkeys in a row. He did some photo editing and showed me a few things, so hopefully my photos will improve. In the meantime he was happy to share his charming picture.

Our neighbor who keeps the donkeys takes in animals of all kinds. He is the one who gets the call to bottle feed a calf if its mother is not able to care for it. If there is a creature in need he tends to say yes to helping, which sometimes means years of care. He leads with his heart, and a passel of animals is the result.

I don’t know how he ended up with these miniature donkeys, but he has had them for several years. They are not productive in any discernible way, but their cuteness is considerable as you can see. Hard to imagine saying no to them.

Our neighbor’s place is like assisted living for animals. He is not a professional caregiver, since there is no pay for what he does, but he is a habitual caregiver. Having so many animals makes it hard to travel, but he finds a way to get a break from time to time.

Over time you will meet more of our neighbor’s menagerie, but the donkeys are my favorite. Being a caregiver of animals and not people may make it easier for my neighbor to maintain his separation and not just merge his whole person into giving care. Still, it is worth considering how he copes.

He has about 45 acres of land, which is big by city standards, but the land only sustains so many animals. When he doesn’t have room for a new addition he says no. He is not willing to put himself and all the animals in his care in jeopardy in order to take care of every problem for others.

Saying no is an important skill for a caregiver. It is only by refusing to take on every problem that he can help solve the problems he has agreed to take on. You can see how this is true for my neighbor, but can you see how this is true for you?

You are stretched pretty thin right now with taking care of your loved one and yourself. It is not a failure to say no, even to someone in need. You may not be the right person to say yes right now. Please heed the example of my generous-hearted neighbor and say no to taking on a new thing that might overwhelm your ability to deal with the things for which you are already responsible.

You deserve that, you know.

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