Category: Donkeys

Love isn’t something ’til you give it away … it comes right back to you.

It has never ceased to amaze me how life offers up opportunities to meet and learn from amazing people. This summer I met such a person in Kevin Gallagher. If you’ve been following along with our blog you know how much I’ve valued my time with Kevin’s miniature donkeys. I have learned a lot from Kevin – and have much more to learn yet – about caring for these wonderful creatures.

He has taught me much more about living. Kevin has dealt with major health challenges for over twenty years. It began with a back injury that put him on the sidelines and then complications arising from those limitations. And yet – when I met him in July – I soon realized what a gifted person this was. Despite the pain and the frustrations his days always deliver heĀ nurturesĀ one of the most creative spirits I’ve encountered.

He is a bluegrass keener who can play a plethora of instruments. His banjos, guitars, base, keyboard, and sound system fill a magical music room where he can retreat for music ‘baths’. Not only can he play all of these – he can build them and repair them. He has played in bands throughout his life and has a strong connection with family and friends who can jam along when they get together.

Then I learned about his air brushing talents… and his extensive knowledge of poultry breeding and showing … his capacious research on donkey lineage … his boundless love for critters of all kinds … his talent with training dogs and donkeys … his thirst for knowledge and internet surfing … his drive to master how to put up a blog online and to organize his wealth of digital photographs … Kevin does not give up.

I had an interesting conversation with he and Donna a few weeks ago. We talked about the social changes that happen when you deal with severe disabilities. As you can tell from what I’ve written, Kevin was a very active person. His job was very physical, his hobbies were active pursuits. They traveled and partied and enjoyed the company of friends and family at the end of very busy work weeks. Weekends were not for slowing down – they were for ‘gearing up’! Over the past twenty years that lifestyle has gradually slipped away. Kevin’s limitations have added body weight to his list of challenges. Now, when people see Kevin out and about many might come to hasty conclusions about the man that leans on the cane or uses the wheelchair. And often – they will be dead wrong. We talked about how life deals us loads to bear … some of us seem to have more than our share of tough times. We mused about the kindred spirit that can form between people who have faced challenges. For some of us challenges have smoothed a few of our rough edges and developed our sense of empathy.

For me … I see such an incredible role model in Kevin. I so enjoy his wry sense of humour. I admire his determination to fight through very painful days to get himself out to his back field to bring comfort and companionship to his herd. When I see the ‘girls’ follow his golf cart and clamber aboard for ear scratches and gentle talks and pats I can tell how much he means to them. When I visited the farm the other day without Donna or Kevin I could tell that his donkeys were missing him.

Kevin has shown me, once again, that the human spirit is greatly nurtured by opportunities to be creative – and – by the chance to care for someone or something other than ourselves. It reminds me of that children’s song that goes something like … ‘love isn’t something ’til you give it away … it all comes back to you.’

When you can make a donkey smile … you can’t help but smile along!