Losing a friend, gaining a herd

An avid backpacker, Dave Drewray was in his mid-50s and looking for a way to carry his gear — tents, cots, camping stoves, pots and pans — on days-long treks through the wilderness. Dave and Terri Drewray got Diesel in November 2018 through the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro program. The Drewray’s spent months training Diesel, who weighed about 500 pounds and could haul a fifth of that. They drove more than 500 miles to Palm Desert to get the 3-year-old gray-brown donkey with a white belly who already had the name Diesel because “he’s a powerhouse.” He was a bit standoffish at first, but once the Drewrays, who live on a 4-acre “hobby farm” near Auburn, Calif., gained his trust, Diesel followed them everywhere, always at their hip asking for a hug or a treat, Terrie said. In the five months they had him, the Drewrays took him on increasingly long hikes with more and more weight until he could go out three to four times a week carrying gear. On April 20, 2019, Dave was taking Diesel on his final training pack trip. Around noon something spooked him, causing him to take off. With Dave holding his lead, Diesel dragged him behind for about 300 feet until Dave was forced to let go. Banged up, Dave nevertheless tracked Diesel for miles to try to recapture him but could never get close enough. He finally gave up and called his wife with bad news, a moment that Terrie said will be “etched in my memory forever.”

Diesel, left, with mini donkey Jack, who were both owned by the family. Terrie posted to a Facebook group dedicated to finding missing pets in the area, and starting at dawn the next morning, the Drewrays and about eight others formed a search party that scoured the wilderness for about 12 hours. There was no sign of Diesel. “It was like he had just disappeared — some alien machine had picked him up and moved him off,” she said. They searched again the next weekend. They posted pleas for help on social media. Local TV stations ran stories about their plight. A drone pilot went out two to three times a week for a month in a vain effort to find Diesel. They searched for years and asked the other hikers but with no response they gave up and years presumed Diesel was dead. “I was defeated,” she said. “I was beside myself … lots of tears.”

Five years later, video of Diesel roving the California wilderness as a fully enmeshed member of an elk herd has gone viral. The video, taken by a hunter, shows Diesel turning, trotting and running with his more graceful-looking herd mates. “It was almost like synchronized swimming,” Terrie said. Elk herds roam the sprawling oak savannas of Northern California now with a member who isn’t an elk at all. His name is Diesel, and he is a donkey. But some donkeys aren’t meant to be caged. Terri was philosophical, “He’s earned his freedom.”

Herd Mentality

The best advice I ever got from my dad was to never run away from my problems.
To this day, I still have that postcard.

Did you hear about the tree that tried to run away from home?
He’s not out of the woods yet.

I just finished the book my friend gifted me on herd mentality.
But I haven’t read the reviews yet, so I don’t know if I like it.

What do you call a stampeding herd of Llama?
The Alpacalypse.

July 5th Birthdays

1983 – Tuba Buyukustun, 1963 – Edie Falco, 1934 – Katherine Helmond, 1970 – Kathryn Erbe

1810 – P. T. Barnum,  1994 – Shohei Ohtani, 1951 – Huey Lewis, 1992 – Jason Dolley

Morning Motivator: