HER second act: The Marvin and Bear Show |
Allow me to introduce two good friends who live at Oler Farm.
Marvin is our donkey. All Oler donkeys were named Marvin. It seems like a perfectly logical and solid name for a donkey. Thirty-five years ago, we still had a donkey at the residence to help soften our children’s 4-H calves so they were okay with being leashed. The current Marvin never had to earn his oats and cookies by being attached to a crazed steer or nervous heifer.
A few years ago we moved Marvin to a fenced lot tucked away behind the buildings, away from the action of the barn lot. We mistakenly thought we needed to show cattle in the lot closest to the house. Marvin, an excellent “watchman” donkey who bawls when someone pulls into the driveway, failed to recognize the Amish horses and any old trailers passing Manning Road. He’s become less of a grumpy Eeyore now that he’s been moved to his old digs in the lot with the roadside real estate.
Bear, our exuberant Australian Blue Shepherd, is 4 years old. My husband, Steve, is Bear’s human. Most nights they both hop on our John Deere alligator to check the cows in the pasture, then drive around our country block with Bear sitting intently in the passenger seat.
Bear stays in a chain-link kennel with indoor space and an outdoor enclosure, but he also has access to Marvin’s land. It’s a pretty sweet setup. The dog and the donkey are friends and local celebrities.
Our neighbors will slow down or pass by to enjoy their antics. Although these two animals mostly exist quietly together, with Marvin contemplatively chewing his hay while Bear sleeps on the round bale of hay, they’ve been somewhat known to step up the antics when they have an audience.
Both animals are guilty of causing mayhem as they chase each other in loops or figure-eights around the pitch, the dog yelping and the donkey honking. Marvin, channeling a rodeo horse, will take a shortcut across the path while the dog always takes the widest track available. They clash flat out for short bursts before slowing down, followed by an indifferent wandering in their separate corners.
On weekdays, my husband and I watch a few minutes of “Good Morning America” on TV, but the best performances often happen outside of our living room windows. It’s “The Bear and Marvin Show.” They have a game that looks like this:
Bear picks up a stick and waves it in front of Marvin’s face. Marvin shows no interest in tug of war with Bear’s dumb, boring stick. A few minutes later, Marvin takes an old rubber food tray between his teeth, trots over to the dog, and shakes the food tray playfully in Bear’s face as if to say, “Do you want to play?”
Most of the time, Bear accepts the challenge and the two of them tug and tug on that flimsy rubber feed tray. Their backends are high as they dig and fight. Eventually, one wins and trots off with the trophy, head held high.
Sometimes Bear isn’t interested in wrestling for the feed bin game and tries to tempt Marvin, who is still holding on to the feed bin, to drop him in favor of the stick. For a short time, it’s a friendly face-to-face because no one gives up or gives in. The donkey isn’t the only stubborn animal in this pack. Eventually, they agree to disagree and let it go.
Stephen and I have some great photos of Bear and Marvin separately, but capturing the two playing was a challenge, except for some blurry cellphone video. I tried to bribe them with treats, but in reality none of the animals would stand still to pose for me. Maybe one day you will have to drive by to enjoy the antics of these two friends in “The Bear and Marvin Show”.
Cindy and Steve Oler live on Manning Road near Economy where there is always something going on.