How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion
In this heartfelt, thoughtful, and inspiring memoir, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz tells the story of his beloved rescue donkey, Simon, and the wondrous ways that animals make us wiser and kinder people.
In the spring of 2011, Jon Katz received a phone call that would challenge every idea he ever had about mercy and compassion. An animal control officer had found a neglected donkey on a farm in upstate New York, and she hoped that Jon and his wife, Maria, would be willing to adopt him. Jon wasn’t planning to add another animal to his home on Bedlam Farm, certainly not a very sick donkey. But the moment he saw the wrenching sight of Simon, he felt a powerful connection. Simon touched something very deep inside of him. Jon and Maria decided to take him in.
Simon’s recovery was far from easy. Weak and malnourished, he needed near constant care, but Jon was determined to help him heal. As Simon’s health improved, Jon would feed him by hand, read to him, take him on walks, even confide in him like an old and trusted friend. Then, miraculously, as if in reciprocation, Simon began to reveal to Jon the true meaning of compassion, the ways in which it can transform our lives and inspire us to take great risks.
This radically different perspective on kindness and empathy led Jon to a troubled border collie from Ireland in need of a home, a blind pony who had lived outside in a pasture for fifteen years, and a new farm for him and Maria. In the great tradition of heroes—from Don Quixote to Shrek—who faced the world in the company of their donkeys, Jon came to understand compassion and mercy in a new light, learning to open up “not just to Simon, not just to animals, but to the human experience. To love, to risk, to friendship.”
With grace, warmth, and keen emotional insight, Saving Simon plumbs the depths of the bonds we form with our animals, and the rewards of “living a more compassionate, considered, and meaningful life.”
Praise for Saving Simon
“Heartwarming . . . a touching tale.”—USA Today
“Highly recommended . . . an enjoyable and thoughtful work.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“[Saving Simon] handles the emotional highs and lows of living with animals with empathy and thoughtfulness, forcing readers to re-examine their own meanings of compassion and mercy.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The message of this true story will linger with the reader long after the book has been placed on the shelf.”—Bookreporter
New York Times bestselling author Katz (The Second Chance Dog) takes on a shockingly malnourished and mistreated equine in this uplifting and insightful memoir. Neglected and left all but dead by a farmer who fell on hard times, Simon the donkey had a resilient spirit that was almost immediately apparent to animal patrol officers when they rescued rescued him and then called upon Katz, who owns a farm in upstate New York, to adopt this wounded soul. Much to his surprise, Katz recognized his own battered spirit in Simon and quickly develops an affinity for the annimal: "I connected to experience of aloneness and confusion, of fear and discomfort. I had spent a lot of my life that way." Recounting the quiet hours spent tending to the donkey's damaged charge, Katz contemplates the meaning of compassion and why he chooses to bestow it upon other animals, humans, and even the farmer who had abandoned Simon to his unfathomably cruel fate. Katz's account of this emotionally wrought journey is rooted in self-awareness; by caring for Simon, Katz comes to terms with other relationships in his life including a falling out with his now deceased mother. Katz's fans and animal lovers of all kinds will no doubt be delighted by Simon's heartwarming story. 4 b&w photos.
Excellent read. A book for all ages.
The book was pretty good in the first couple of chapters, but after that it got pretty boring. The part were the boy was wanting wifi for his iPod and helping out Simon for his scars was pretty cool, but after that chapter it got stale. The beginning of the book was pretty sad though. (Also as Jon introduced more characters I got less and less connected to them).
Anyone who loves animals and stories of rescue should read this book. Interesting discussion about compassion and animal emotions. Read.