DOÑA ANA – At 10 months old, Booty found a home in a yard off Doña Ana Road. For the next 15 or so years, she became a companion to horses, a pest to county road workers, a friend to kids, a fixture to passersby and a beloved “one of a kind” pet donkey.
“She would follow us everywhere. She would hug us – she would throw her head on your shoulder and wrap her leg around you,” said Cinda Eagle-Jepson, one of Booty’s caretakers.
People often stopped to talk to Booty or would call her name as they drove by her pasture near Cox Lane and Doña Ana Road. But some two weeks ago, Booty died at the age of 15, leaving a family and community grieving.
“I miss her so much,” said Sharlee Eagle, Eagle-Jepson’s daughter who has been raising rescue horses since she was 12 years old.
Though Booty could be loving and caring, she was also a character who would chase people out of the field if they didn’t belong there.
Eagle said she’d tell road workers not to park their trucks in reach of Booty because she’d grab their belongings. But the crews often didn’t heed her concerns.
“One day she stole and ate all of their lunches. They got back to their truck and there were lunch boxes and bags everywhere,” Eagle said. “They put the signs up – ‘caution roadwork ahead’ – and she’d pull them in the field and she wouldn’t let them have it back. She’d charge them.”
Booty could also hold a grudge. Eagle said one day her sister, Dessirae Poppenberg, tried to ride Booty.
“She was joking around and climbed on her and of course Booty threw her off,” Eagle said.
The girls laughed it off, but Booty didn’t forget.
Three days later, Eagle and Poppenberg were working in the field when Booty spotted Dessirae by herself.
“She charged Dessirae,” Eagle said. “She took off as fast as she could and was braying the whole time. I’m screaming for Dessirae to move, to get out of the field, and she froze.”
At the last moment, Booty turned and left Poppenberg frozen and covering her face. For the next two years, Booty bullied her sister every time she came into the field.
“They say donkeys hold a grudge, and it’s true,” she said.
Though Booty might have it out for some adults, she adored all kids.
“Kids could sit on her all day long,” Eagle said, noting that Booty was never trained to ride.
Something wasn’t right
Eagle said Booty hated getting her feet worked on and whenever this would happen, Booty would pout in the same spot near Doña Ana Road to get sympathy from passing cars.
But a few weeks ago, Booty began pouting in a different spot. “She was away from the road and she wanted to be by herself,” Eagle said, noting something wasn’t right.
“She looked like Eeyore,” Eagle added. “She wasn’t that excited to see us come down. Normally she was really excited to see everyone.”
The vet came the next day and determined Booty likely had a twisted stomach, which is common in donkeys.
Eagle said Booty’s condition improved over the next couple of days, but she eventually took a turn for the worse. On Aug. 26, Booty died of a heart attack.
“I expected to have at least another 10 to 15 years with Booty,” Eagle said. “I thought she was going to grow old with me. She was my baby.”
An outpouring of support
Since Booty’s death, her family has seen an outpouring of support. Numerous community members have called and stopped by to offer their condolences.
On Aug. 30, Eagle posted about Booty’s death on the Las Cruces Community Watch Facebook page. By press time Friday, 178 people had commented on the post and 1,300 people had reacted to it.
“It’s nice to know how much Booty meant to everybody,” Eagle said.
Eagle-Jepson said Booty will always be a part of the family.
“I want people to realize that they don’t have to be like a dog, or cat, or bird or something. We have all those pets. Booty was part of our family. We want people to know they can love something that’s unusual or different and they can give love right back,” she said.