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Media Herd Trots
To Donkey Dilemma
PITTSFIELD -- Jenny the runaway donkey is proving to be the most famous
fugitive on four legs since Bonnie and Clyde.
As Jenny's walk on the wild side entered its 26th day on Tuesday, the
couple from whom the donkey made her great escape fielded telephone
calls from media outlets throughout the country looking for an update.
Fox News and CNN have joined a throng of local media in broadcasting the
movements of the delinquent donkey, according to Joe Varricchio, who
owns Mary's Garden with Mary Gaeta. Varricchio received interview
requests from news stations in Boston and California.
"It's more exciting around here, that's for sure," Varricchio said as he
awaited the arrival of an Associated Press reporter.
The news coverage could help bring Jenny's saga to a happy conclusion.
Gail Lever of Princeton, Mass., first read of Jenny's plight on Tuesday,
and Lever just may hold the key to reining Jenny in. Equine experts who
have worked to capture Jenny believe the donkey is searching for a
partner that was sold separately at an auction last fall. Lever believes
her mule, Isabella, is that partner.
"I think we have her buddy," Lever said Tuesday. "When I saw this
picture today, (Jenny's) the spitting image of Isabella."
Both donkeys -- Lever believes both are actually mules, the product of a
jackass stud and a female horse -- were purchased at Tilton's Auction in
East Corinth. Both were considered too ornery to handle and were passed
off to another owner. Isabella went to Lever, who, with two friends,
runs Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue, an informal donkey and mule rescue
league. Jenny went to live with Varricchio and Gaeta, who hoped the
animal would ward off the foxes, coyotes and raccoons that make off with
about 60 chickens every year. Lever and Gaeta had both heard that the
donkeys had been separated from partners.
"We could be wrong about this, but there are so many clues here that
make me think this could be the long lost buddy of Isabella," Lever
Jenny escaped Jan. 18 and has been running in the fields and woods
around Mary's Garden ever since. Varricchio and the Gaetas have gotten
countless suggestions and offers of assistance, but all attempts to
capture Jenny, even with tranquilizers, have proven futile.
Isabella, whose nickname is "Bellybutton," was sent to a farm in
Acworth, N.H. She has made tremendous progress, Lever said, and is
already eating out of outstretched hands. Lever believes Jenny can make
the same progress.
"We're thinking of trailering Isabella over there and seeing if we could
lure Jenny to her," Lever said. "We don't want to force her. We want her
to come to us."
Karina Lewis, who specializes in equine behavior modification, returned
to Mary's Garden for a second time on Tuesday. Lewis believes Isabella's
arrival would hasten Jenny's capture.
"Karina said she'd go pick (Isabella) up if she had to," Varricchio
said. "This is going to be something."
Lever believes Jenny and Isabella, who were likely lifelong companions
and probably even sisters, have been heartbroken since the auction.
"These animals bond and they become such close friends," Lever said.
Lewis, who planned to return to Mary's Garden today, hopes Jenny will be
captured before Isabella's arrival. Lewis and Jenny had just 10 minutes
of what Lewis described as "contact" on Sunday during Lewis' first
visit. That time of trust-building extended two hours on Tuesday.
"We're making definite progress," Lewis said. "I liked what I saw today.
We're building rapport and that takes time. We're going to do this in
increments and today was a huge step forward."