MARENGO — You can call Dean and Dawn Fagan the Morrow County donkey whisperers since the video of Dean cradling and singing to three-week-old donkey “Ivy” went viral this week.
In the video that they put up on Twitter Dean is singing, “What the World Needs Now is Love” as he cradles Ivy in his arms.
Dean says he was “trying to get a positive message out amid all this hate.”
Dawn says the message is certainly getting out with several thousand responding on Twitter as well as getting on the CBS Morning Show Table Talk, Fox News and Channel 6 in Columbus.
The Fagans who live on a small farm in southern Morrow County take delight in the personality of donkeys. They all enjoy music. Dawn said Dean has sung to all the baby donkeys.
“They are super smart and think things through,” Dean said. “They remember and they’re curious.” Because they’re curious, they’ll run to danger when something stirs their curiosity. Fagan has seen them be very protective and says they will kill a coyote if their herd is attacked.
Dean used to have horses and loved to ride, but once they had a donkey they no longer kept horses.
They got the first donkey, Mr. Donkey Donks through friends of their daughter Shannon Vaught. It turned out to be more than they could handle and they asked Fagans If they would keep the donkey.
That was six years ago and he is still on their farm. They since have acquired several more as rescue donkeys, and now have six in addition to Ivy and her mother Wyona.
Wyona is one of their rescue donkeys. They have successfully adopted out some of their male donkeys. They said males can sometimes be too aggressive when there is more than one with several females.
The Fagans’ friends, Tom Slayton and Christy Foley of Mount Gilead, talked about how much they enjoy being with the donkeys. “I can’t believe how people-oriented the donkeys are,” Slayton said.
“I truly believe they are therapeutic animals,” Foley said as she described how the donkeys seem to enjoy nuzzling her face and neck. She said they visited the Fagans and their animals last week and talked about what a calming effect the donkeys had.
Both Dean and Dawn enjoy giving the donkeys lots of attention. Dean has been a photographer and now they work from home in recruiting for advertising. They are able to feed the donkeys hay from their own fields as well as having plenty of pasture land for them to graze.
Dean spoke a little about the bad reputation that donkeys have as stubborn animals. He acknowledges that they can be stubborn and dig in their hooves if you put them on a leash and try to drag them somewhere.
The Fagans’ approach is to understand them and read their behavior. The result is they will follow the Fagans on a walk all around the farm as they call them by name.
“They’re often slow because they are curious,” Dean said. “They will take the time to stop and check out something new that is in their path.”
That relaxed pace suits the Fagans just fine as they share their love of donkeys with family and friends at social gatherings on the farm. They’re glad that their friends have come to treasure their donkeys and their personalities as much as they do.
You can see Dean singing to Ivy on the YouTube video, “What the world needs now. Ohio man singing to a donkey.”