An uplifting story for a Monday – SMOKE THE DONKEY!

Have you heard this story?  I found it on FB and I wanted to play it forward today.


It started in Fallujah on a Marine Corp base in 2008.  There was a marine who decided to catch one of the many donkeys wandering the base.  Being an adept donkey catcher, the marine was successful and consequently tied the newly haltered donkey to the tent of his base Colonel.

Upon rising, Colonel Folsom found the donkey.  Of course, the Marines fell in love with the little burro… they fed him and patched the wounds on his legs.  He was their mascot.  They named him SMOKE because of his color and his sneaky donkey way of snatching ciggys, lit or not.

The troops loved him!


Sadly, pets are not allowed in a war zone…  My Hubby has many sad stories about pets/animals in Iraq when he was there.  So sad…

Anyway, of course the men were very attached to Smoke and he definitely boosted morale.  So, Folsom helped arrange for a Navy lieutenant to clear the little donkey as a therapy animal – and he was allowed to stay.


Smoke was so popular, people from home started sending him care packages.  He would receive treats and burro blankets.  The men continued to write home about Smoke… this little guy was stealing hearts and keeping spirits up.


Eventually, the troops left.  Smoke couldn’t come with the troop so he was left in the care of an Army major who gave the donkey to a sheik, for whatever reason.


In October of 2010, Folsom decided he wanted Smoke back in the USA.  Folsom had left the Marines and was now the head of Wounded Warriors Family Support, a non-profit that helps the families of service members who do not come back from war.

Folsom went to great lengths to track down the sheik who had Smoke.  Greedily, the sheik wanted $30,000 to release the burro.

Ummm.  Folsom told the sheik that as long as the donkey was happy there, all was good (called his bluff).

I guess the sheik thought about it and decided to give back Smoke for free.  Hmmmmm. Imagine that…

Smoke grazing as he awaits his flight to his new home


The challenge, of course, is clearing Smoke for travel to the US  – and arranging (paying for) the travel.  So, Folsom contacted Operation Baghdad Pups program which is run by the SPCA International.  They agreed to provide transport.

Since Smoke is a large animal, he has to be transported by Cargo plane.  And, from what we hear, Smoke should be on terra firma by the end of January.  At this moment, he is awaiting a flight out of Arbil, Iraq!

When he lands here, he will live at TAKE FLIGHT FARMS in Omaha.  This is a group who help children and adults cope with disabilities and psychological ailments.  Since Smoke was such a wonderful cure for all the Marines in Iraq, it is thought that Smoke will do wonders at Take Flight Farms.


Smoke barely has a page on Facebook, but you can follow his “discussion” on the SPCA page.  Here is the link.


I wanted to share a bit about the man who initiated bringing Smoke home, Colonel John Folsom.  Wow.  He seems like a great guy… Part of his program for the families of not returning soldiers is to bring them to Florida for some heart lifting fun.  You can read about his program via this link.

Here is a small part of his bio.

“Colonel Folsom’s military decorations include the Navy-Marine Corps Medal for heroism, the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service medals awarded for his meritorious service in support of Operation “Iraqi Freedom”.”

You can read more about him here.

Colonel Folsom


My sentiments are that donkeys are really easy, they are hearty, sweet, protective, smart and wonderful.  If you have the room, the time and the resources, PLEASE add a donkey to your herd.  You cannot help but fall in love with them.

After all, would a horse have as much success with an entire troop of men?  Maybe… But a donkey was surely successful because he KNEW.  Very wise, very kind and very gentle.

Rescue a Donkey today!

–look on your local Craigslist

–contact the BLM and find an adoption date, location or online adoption

–inquire at a Donkey rescue, here are a few (or google for your area…):

Amberwood Sanctuary, Leary, GA
(912) 792-6246

Crossroads Donkey Rescue. Grayling, MI

Longhopes Donkey Shelter, Bennett, CO

Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue

Redwings, CA

Terra Patre Rescue and Wildlife Preserve, Belen, NM

Turning Pointe Donkey Rescue, Dansville, MI
(517) 623-0000

Wild Burro Rescue, Olancha, CA

Forever Homes, Arizona:

Donkeys are WONDERFUL!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!


To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate the the ‘Saved from Slaughter Orphan Foals’, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

The end of the month is drawing near! Please help!

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Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!

Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
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Equine Burial and Cremation… Let’s be brave and talk about it.

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 | Filed under Handy Tips

I know this is a tough subject, but sometimes the Rainbow Bridge comes quickly and without warning.  So, I wanted to get the gears turning just in case you find yourself (hopefully not…) needing a service like this.

My Aladdin


I stumbled upon an ad today for Equine Cremation.  Wha?  I had never thought about that.  In my mind, there were only three options and none of them were particularly palatable…

–Home burial  (if you have the equipment and if it is legal on your property)

–Necropsy and …disposal (awful term, I know)

–Rendering (Oy, the idea of that truck rumbling up the driveway and yanking at my loved one is just gut wrenching.)

But today, I found several more options that involve cremation and burial…  And I wanted to tell you about them.  I know it is a rather sad topic, but to me, it is important to think ahead about this.  Having lost a horse recently, the last thing you want to be thinking about is how to bury your friend.  It is an awful, hectic time and I think it is best to know your options before the time comes.

More options for equines


I never knew that there are services out there which:

–remove the body tastefully – other than the rendering truck…


–Urns/Boxes for equine cremains


–Artifacts and Keepsakes

An etching of your horse


The first thing to do is locate a service in your area.  It is important to understand what services each facility provides.   So I’ll help you with the questions to ask.

You want to find a local service because they do charge to pick up your friend.  Most will pick up from a veterinarian or an equine hospital, a boarding facility or your home.  But, you want to figure out the pick up restrictions (gate size, area from truck to horse, strategic details…).  Also, you want to know how much they charge if you are out of their area.

Most all services will come out at any hour and offer 24 hour phone contact.  They know these things don’t happen at opportune times.  Most suggest that they are “gentle” or “respectful” but I would ask for a recommendation before I hired anyone to do such a delicate service.

And, although this is a gruesome thought, many of them will not take a body that has started to decay, so make sure you have this figured out beforehand, if you can.

I googled ‘equine cremation’ in my area.  I found one nearby.  Shocked.  I’ve never, ever even thought about it.  Lo and Behold, there is a service nearby.

So, google  (or click here for help in finding a source in your area) and learn what services are in your area.  I never want to see a rendering truck in my driveway – and hopefully it will never be necessary.

Find a provider in your area


I found out that most equine cremations are done in a small cat/dog furnace.  So, you want to ask this difficult question…

“Can you cremate the whole horse?”

Some equine crematoriums tout that they have the ability to cremate an entire horse.  Obviously, this is an important question to ask.

Also, many places will cremate after a necropsy.  If I had known about this after Aladdin passed, I probably would  have had his remains cremated and buried here.

Some facilities offer the option of allowing the owner to watch the cremation.  They do this because notoriously, crematoriums are not always trustworthy to cremate your pet and/or give you the ashes of your own pet – if you know what I mean.  So reputable crematoriums offer this service.

But, it is less expensive to cremate in a group.  So, if a group cremation is the best option for you financially,  some facilities offer this option.

Memory Box with Photos...


Any crematorium or burial facility should be an upstanding member in a few groups.  If you find a crematorium in your area, ask if they are members of any associations.  For example:

–International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (website link here)

–Pet Loss Professional Alliance  (website link here)

Make sure they are fully licensed to cremate animals and that they abide by the burial/cremation laws of your county.

Click on image to find a provider in your area


Some cremations facilities offer burial as well.  Here again, make sure how they bury.  I found several places that were like a human cemetery where you could pick the plot and decide if you wanted the cremains to be buried or the entire animal (or not the entire animal – be careful here).

A few places offered above ground crypts.  Once facility suggested planting a fruit tree on you equine’s grave site.  I liked that one.

I was most impressed with the pet cemeteries that looked like parks.  To me, these types of cemetaries felt just like what you would think a horse would think was heavenly.

HOWEVER, a very important point to ponder when contemplating a pet cemetery is whether it will be there in 10 years…  I mean, do they have a trust or some sort of legal paperwork that states your pet won’t be dug up for condos in a few years?  Several pet cemeteries do have those future plans well documented.

Pick what you like


I didn’t see any caskets for horses.  I am assuming that a horse is buried without a casket.  But, they had many, many different types of cremains boxes.  (I had never heard the word “cremains” before today…)

I did find one huge cremains box that was stated to house a whole horse.  This made me question all the other cremains boxes… None of the other boxes suggested that it wouldn’t contain the entire horse, but I’m thinking that maybe they don’t… Anyway, another good question to ask.

The designs were numerous.  Most had either a horse shoe (could be your horse’s shoes) or a photo in the front.  Some had etched likenesses, some had special adornments.

I’m guessing that the smaller boxes were for you to take home and put in a special place and the larger boxes were for burial or whatever you’d like.

Another way to remember


I saw many, many keepsake items.  You can have your horse’s name engraved on just about anything.  Of course, you could also have a bracelet or necklace (anklet… anything…) created from his/her hair.

BUT, there were a few amulet-type of pendants.  One in particular held some ashes of your pal.  I wasn’t sure if this was like Angelina keeping a vial of Billy Bob’s blood around her neck – or if this was cool.  I’m still on the fence about that.  I think if I had Aladdin’s ashes, they’d live somewhere sacred but I’m not sure I’d carry him around with me.  I think he’d be bored or kinda weirded out by that – but of course, I could never be sure… maybe he’d like it.  Dunno.

The amulet that holds ashes


OK, this was very odd to me but also cryptically interesting.  Did you know that crystals can be made from your pet’s cremains?  I didn’t either.  So, if you have a horse, they can take a bit of the ashes and make a crystal pendant or ring.  The colors depend upon the elements in your animal’s cremains.  Hmmmmm.  So, you don’t know what color you will end up with until the crystal is created.  I thought that was interesting.  At least it is personal.  Here is a link to a page with some details about the Crystal Companions.

A ring option

A pendant option


Well, this concept was totally new to me.  I had never heard of this.  In fact, I had to go to Wikipedia to see if it was legal.

Did you know that since bodies are carbon, diamonds could be made out of cremains?  I didn’t either.  These diamonds are called, Life Gems (linked here).  A few men started this company in 2003 in Illinois.  Hmmmm.  The diamonds aren’t cheap…  $4000 for up to .25 carats and it goes up to $19,000 for a carat.

Only you can decide if a diamond of your hubby, dog, cat or horse would make you feel better about their passing.  Very personal.

The color choices are yellow, blue, white (clear), red or green.  You can decide what cut you’d like.  And, they all come with a certificate of authenticity as well as a gemology grade with cut, clarity, carat and color provided – just like a diamond you would purchase.

An equine Life Gem


Did you know that Life Gems created three diamonds from locks of Beethoven’s hair?  One gem was sold on Ebay in 2008 for $202,700.  The proceeds went to charity.


I hope you remember that the information is here and can look it up quickly.

When I was losing Aladdin, I turned to my vets.  They told me what they thought was the best idea for him and we decided to donate his body to the state so that they could perform a necropsy and try to determine what ravaged him.  But, I never knew I had the option of taking his remains to be cremated and buried here at his home.  I’m not sure if my vets knew about cremation either.

I wish I had this information then.  Which is why I’m telling you now…

My wonderful and dearly missed, Aladdin. When it was time, I wanted to give him all the respect and love that I could.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate the the ‘Saved from Slaughter Orphan Foals’, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

What about the babies?? Please click to help!

Riding Warehouse
Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!

Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!