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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow EQUINE WITH DOG PERSONALITY

EQUINE WITH DOG PERSONALITY

WALKIN' THE MINIATURES: Miniature donkey trainers, from left, Felicia Schaad, 8, of La Grande, Chery Wells of La Grande, Corey Miller, 11, of Pendleton and Brittney Miller, 13, of Pendleton walk Daria and Chablee, both Jennets, at the Union County Fair Thursday morning. The donkeys are two of nearly 100 on Chery Wells' farm on Blackhawk Trail Lane. (The Observer/KELLY WARD).
WALKIN' THE MINIATURES: Miniature donkey trainers, from left, Felicia Schaad, 8, of La Grande, Chery Wells of La Grande, Corey Miller, 11, of Pendleton and Brittney Miller, 13, of Pendleton walk Daria and Chablee, both Jennets, at the Union County Fair Thursday morning. The donkeys are two of nearly 100 on Chery Wells' farm on Blackhawk Trail Lane. (The Observer/KELLY WARD).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Want a unique pet? Try a miniature donkey.

Theyre like equine with a dog personality, said Chery Wells, who lives on Blackhawk Trail Lane just outside La Grande.

In fact, she and her husband, Earl, live and ranch within a stones throw of the Union County Fairgrounds.

During this weeks fair, Wells has two of the donkeys each day on display at the fair. She has taken some to competitions, but there isnt any other donkey owners here to compete with, so she just shows them and answers questions.

Thursday, she had Daria and Chablee, two yearlings, at her spot in one of the livestock barns. At a year old, the animals are about 32 inches high.

They cant be more than 36 inches to be registered as a miniature donkey, she said. These probably wont grow much more, but theyll put on more muscles.

They also must have the distinctive black-cross marking across their shoulders to be registered, Wells said.

These two and others she has at the fair this year are gray, but the breed comes in various colors, including black, spotted, and red and brown, she said.

Wells is one of the largest breeders of the animals in the Northwest. She has been doing it for eight years.

We have about 90 right now. Weve just had 15 foals. Most are under six weeks old, and well have about 15 more.

Wells said the animals originated in Sicily and Sardinia.

They were used for hauling water, guarding sheep, things like that.

She said hers would have to be introduced slowly to sheep if they are to become guard donkeys. Some people have them in with their goats, she said. They are herd animals, so we usually sell them in pairs, either two jacks (males), two jennets (females) or one of each, Wells said.

Females sell for about $1,500, males for $500.

We sell about 20 or 25 a year. I just sold two huge batches to people in Colorado. Ive had inquires recently from Nevada. We sell all over the United States, she said.

She said people comment on how sweet they are, how cute they are, and ask, Is this as big as they get?

Like a dog, they are easy to train, she said. Once they learn something, they retain it. Theyre very, very smart animals.

Wells said she had seen a circus once where six or eight of the animals did all kinds of tricks.

Between 300 and 400 children come to the ranch each year to see the animals, and she is happy to have visitors if they call ahead (963-8367).

She brings only two a day to the fair since the donkeys are used to roaming a large pasture. Wells has 18 acres. There are four or five barns, and the Wellses have other animals, too dogs, cats, chickens and a horse. She has two full-time workers.

Her husband builds flatbed trailers, which keeps him busy.

She had three youngsters helping her at the fair Thursday, including 8-year-old Felicia Schaad, and Corey and Brittney Miller.

Wells, who will have one donkey wearing a saddlebag and a sombrero at todays 6 p.m. Union County Fair Parade, said she probably would go to Roseburg later this year for a competitive show.

But for now, shes happy just helping make the local public aware of the breed by showing the animals.

The fair wraps up on Saturday.

 
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