If you see a miniature donkey in these here parts, whether it’s at a parade, on local television, or at a farm day, chances are it’s one of the six small burros owned by a group of women who call themselves the East End Ass Whisperers.
Barbara Bornstein, a Sagaponack resident who still retains a little of her Alabama twang, said she was the first in the group to get a donkey — her Sicilian burro, Peso. “We were all members of the East End Livestock and Horseman’s Association,” she said on Monday, referring to the group of which the Ass Whisperers are “an offshoot.”
Ms. Bornstein had noted that there were several organizations in the miniature donkey rescue business and approached a few of her friends who had, as she put it, “the wherewithal and land” to take in one, or more, of the animals, some of which were about to be slaughtered.
Ms. Bornstein has had Peso for 18 years and estimates his age at “30 in the shade.” When asked about the typical donkey lifespan, she answered, tongue in cheek, “I’ll let you know.”
The other members of the East End Ass Whisperers are all North Fork residents. Samantha Perry of Southold got Levi from a kill shelter in Pennsylvania, Cathy Springer adopted Lil E. Putia and Pop. E. shortly afterward. Debbie Miller soon followed with her burro, Buddy, and Emily and Bernadette Deerkoski, a mother and daughter ass-owning team from Mattituck, recently bought Diesel, the baby of the bunch at just under 2 years old.
On Monday, the East End Ass Whisperers were paying a visit to the Wolffer Stables in Sagaponack, where they were spending the day with Karen Bocksel and the Center for Therapeutic Riding of the East End, or CTREE, which operates there. The students that day, from the Child Development Center of the Hamptons, were, with assistance, guiding the tiny donkeys through what could be described as an obstacle course — several cones to weave around and a bouquet-studded box where the objective was “to guide the donkey past it without him eating the flowers.”
Diesel took a few minutes for an impromptu dirt bath, kicking his hooves in the air and rolling around in ecstasy while the children looked on and laughed.
Afterward, it was time for carrots, and smiles, all around.
Ms. Bornstein said she believes Peso enjoys the attention he gets from his guest appearances. “The others like to dress their donkeys up for some of the events,” she said, scratching Peso’s head. “But he’s not into drag.”