After a good bit of effort last weekend, I’m pretty sure the situation is taken care of.

But for a while there, the Three Amigos were too frequently enjoying visits to a fairly expansive area in the neighborhood of the pasture that as of a couple of weeks ago was supposed to be their new home.

I always heard donkeys were smart, but I guess I underestimated to what extent. After staying put for the first several days following their approximately seven-mile, in-county move, the John-Boys apparently decided to venture out and take a look at what surprises and treasures they were missing out on that lay just the other side of pretty much every ridge in our neck of the woods.

Basically, they kept escaping (for lack of a better word). We always located them (sometimes in a neighboring pasture, sometimes on a dirt road), and by employing the sure-fire tactic of shaking a bucket of sweet feed in their vicinity, we were always successful in getting a lead rope on their commanding officer Joe Cool and parading them back to base camp.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

But having to walk three donkeys any distance back to where they belong is too far (let alone a mile or two). So putting a stop to their Houdini-like antics became priority No. 1.

At first, I thought maybe they were ducking under the bottom strand of a portion of barbed wire fence where the contour of the ground creates a low spot midway between a couple of metal t-posts. I’ve seen deer that were apparently not in the mood to jump do that kind of thing a time or two, and I envisioned Joe, Bernie and Abe (Alex’s name has been changed) using a similar method.

But no, their escape route was much more clever and logical than that. And, of course, I found out the hard way.

Late last Saturday morning, after I had already added some lengths of wire to block off two such low spots along the east fence line, I was working on another on the south end of the pasture.

It was the last one I knew of and I was feeling all manly for being on the verge of winning this battle against three worthy equine opponents.

Suddenly, I felt I was being watched. Then I felt like I was being breathed on. I looked to my right, and sure enough Bernie was about two feet away acting as if he was wondering something.

He was.

He was wondering what I was going to do about the fact that Joe and Abe were also staring at me – from the dirt road side of the fence!

Dang it, how’d they get there?

Knowing I had no time to dwell on that question because a couple of donkeys were possibly about to head for Shannon County, I rapidly headed for the outbuilding that houses our Kawasaki ATV, fired it up and set out to round up the two loose Amigos.

Naturally, when they saw me coming they headed pretty quickly in the opposite direction from whence they had come. But as they made their way up the steep hill just the other side of the concrete bridge that spans the year-round creek that flows through the hills in our neighborhood, their mini-trot slowed to a walk. I seized the opportunity and blew past them before quickly making a u-turn in their direction. As hoped, the rogue John-Boys turned back and headed back down the hill to the west.

But when they reached the bottom, their desire to distance themselves from the internal combustion small engine that was making a racket behind them took over, and they began to pick up the pace.

A lot – I was shocked at how much.

In no time, Joe and Abe were in full gallop, kicking up dust and gravel like a pair of 750-CC dirt bikes. In order to keep pace, I pretty much kept the four-wheeler close to full-throttle. As the two equine speedsters and I maintained that status for a couple of hundred yards, I had a flash that I was pursuing Secretariat and Seabiscuit as we zoomed toward the entry to the driveway.

While donkeys more of less have a reputation of being lazy and spending most of their time hanging out being stubborn, I’m here to tell you that they can motor big-time if and when they feel led. Their well kept secret is that they can absolutely fly, and when they have the pedal to the metal, I’m not so sure they wouldn’t keep up with that quarter horse your neighbor says is the fastest thing in the Jillikins since Great Uncle Ned’s Morgan filly in the 1930s.

Stocky bodies and short, thick legs? That’s what speed looks like.

Anyway, with help from my wife’s timely use of our SUV as a roadblock, we caught the four-legged fugitives and got them back inside their fence-lined prison.

Next up was to figure out how they had made their latest break. It didn’t take me long to realize the answer, and when I did I could only shake my head and smile.

About half way from the road to the house, our driveway crosses a small concrete bridge that goes over what is usually a dry wash, but is sometimes a raging torrent of run-off. Based on hoof print evidence left in soil near the underpass, the Three Amigos had obviously been doing some passing under of their own.

The opening they had been using is basically square, and doesn’t offer enough room for a horse, which explains why our trio of those had never made their own visit to neighboring acreage. But said opening is plenty tall for a standard donkey, and no doubt required much less ducking than the under-the-barbed-wire technique I had given them undue credit for using.

Simply put, the problem is now a non-problem, as a couple of t-posts and a few strands of barbed wire now stand between the Amigos and any further usage of their tunnel to freedom.

What’s funny about the whole thing is, these animals are very content on a regular basis and don’t appear to be in any hurry to do anything, let alone escape. We’re having a ball riding them (particularly the attention-loving Abe), and they just spend most of their time wandering around looking cute, munching grass and chomping those annoying sticker bushes.

So in only a couple of short weeks, my wife and I have learned a lot about donkey behavior and donkey nature. There’s a lot more to these guys than big ears and funny voices.

But even if they are silly animals that have a bit of a wild streak and a zeal for exploration, I still think they’re still cool and I like ‘em just the way they are.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email:

There’s something new at our remote outpost deep in rural Texas County.

Actually, there are three new things.

They came in a package deal from a fellow resident of the Jillikins, who loved them but needed to move them. The gentleman wanted to find them a good home, preferably within the county.

When he contacted us, I was skeptical. But my skepticism soon gave way to grins and laughter.

My wife and I have often considered getting one as a pasture pet, but now that three donkeys are wandering around our property and sharing space with our three horses, it’s more fun and fascinating than I had ever envisioned.

Brothers Bernie and Abe and their buddy Joe Cool are like 24-7 entertainment. They’re some of the most expressive animals I’ve ever been around and are obviously quite intelligent.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

And they’re extremely personable – in fact, they’re just plain friendly. Especially Abe, who absolutely craves human touch and is always right in the middle of things, wondering what’s going on or what’s going to happen next.

When the Three Amigos first came to their new home, we figured it might be wise to keep them separated from their larger four-legged counterparts. So we closed the gate between the two main sections of the property and the horses stayed down below while the Johns (which I’m told is the name for gelded donkeys) had run of the upper segment.

The reaction of each group was about as opposite as could be. The donkeys settled in right away and just sauntered around their section, checking out every square inch of the various grazing opportunities and sampling the yummy sticker bushes that birds have planted here and there along or near the fence lines. Meanwhile the horses were on high alert. Their curiosity and wonder had been greatly stirred, and they circled, pranced and stared at the alien beings from just the other side of the four-strand barbed wire barrier.

That went on for a couple of days. Horses with piqued interest and ears standing tall in amazement, donkeys playing it cool.

Then the morning came when we opened the gate. We were anticipating some fairly drawn-out drama, as the six members of similar species mingled for the first time.

But there was no NASCAR-like mega-crash. To the contrary, there was a minor outburst and then nothing but peaceful coexistence.

Not surprisingly, Joe Cool made the first move. At about age eight, he’s the oldest of the John-Boys and kind of acts like their leader. And he most definitely considers himself cooler than his five and six-year-old counterparts.

Also not surprisingly, when he made his advance into enemy territory, Joe was met by Sean, second in command of the horse outfit and no doubt sent into battle by his elder, General Sur.

At first it looked like we were in for some real fun. As Joe boldly walked straight down the middle of the main pasture, making a bee-line for the lush bottoms and spring head at the base of the hill, Sean moved sharply toward him, lowered his head and quite literally charged at his donkey foe’s hind end.

That hind end responded with a compact but calculated mini-buck and Joe’s reconnaissance mission continued. We pretty much expected Major Sean to spin around and bear his larger, longer guns to retaliate. But no such tactic was deployed; the bigger of the two opponents never made another move and before long there were three Johns becoming familiar with the dry wash in the bottoms.

Sean went back to camp and gave his verbal report to the general.

“Sir, our superiority has been conveyed, sir. Response was minimal, sir.”

“Good work, soldier. Stand down.”

Besides being funny, friendly and fearless, the Three Amigos can also be handled as riding animals. They’ll take a bridle and bit with ease, they can be saddled, and they respond (in their own donkey way) to commands like go, stop and turn. And the John-Boy bro’s are even a team – how cool is that?

Don’t be too surprised if you someday see my wife and I pull up in the Hardee’s parking lot in an old buckboard wagon being pulled by a couple of long-eared look-alikes.

There are so many neat things about these silly equine characters, like their gigantic heads and ears, their kind eyes, their spindly little tails, and their cute little trots. What I don’t like about them is – well, I can’t think of anything just yet.

Animals that are fun to be around, enjoy your presence and eat annoying sticker bushes.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email: