Walk With the Burros

One of the greatest pleasures about being a writer is that you make lasting friendships with some of your readers.  Out in Chino Valley, Arizona, a man named Wynne Zaugg read the four novels of my Booker Series that are set in the Southwest, and he began to recommend them as “reading for the soul” in his Hacienda de los Milagros (Home of Miracles) newsletter.  When I saw my first copy of the newsletter, Wynne was offering a money-back guarantee if people read any of the Booker novels and were not moved by them.  What support from a stranger!  We had to find out more about him.

 Hacienda de los Milagros is a non-profit teaching and healing animal sanctuary accredited by the American Sanctuary Association.  Basically, Wynne and his board members rescue burros, horses, mules, and hinnies from desperate circumstances and provide lifetime care for them that includes veterinary medical needs, feeding, grooming, and deep affection.  A list of current residents will include about 100 burros, around 25 horses, and a handful of mules and hinnies. 

 When wild burros were dying during a severe drought in Death Valley, Wynne organized a caravan of equine trailers to rescue them.  Some were so stressed that they did not survive, but many were relocated to Chino Valley and nursed back to health.  Some of those burros were pregnant.  Wynne asks each animal to “tell” him their name and their “story,” and when you walk with him in a large corral among a hundred burros, he can name each one.

 Although my wife Pat and I live in North Carolina, our keen interest in Hacienda de los Milagros caused us to travel in December 2006 to Arizona to meet Wynne Zaugg and the animals at the sanctuary.  Every day that we were there, we entered without fear a large corral where nearly 100 burros roamed.  Soon we were surrounded by animals who wanted nothing more than to give and receive affection.  The emotional impact of those primal gifts is never to be forgotten.

 Wynne Zaugg and his supporters are honoring and preserving life itself one beautiful creature at a time.  These are acts worthy of St. Francis in the serving of our common soul.  But at Hacienda de los Milagros the heart’s generosity has sometimes exceeded the limits of stables and corrals.  The cycle of life there demands pure dedication for the feeding, grooming, and the veterinary care that is required.  All this necessitates dawn to dusk service to the rescued animals.

 If you can visit Hacienda de los Milagros and are nuzzled by the burros and horses, the animals themselves will affirm the wonder of their keeping.  If you wish to affirm your own humanity and your respect for the four leggeds who co-habit our planet, your volunteer efforts and your financial support of the House of Miracles will be fulfilling.  Some people who interact with the burros and horses at HDLM have profound communications with them.  Over the last 12 years these “messages” have been collected in a book soon to be available.  For more about HDLM, visit their website http://www.hdlmsanctuary.org/.

 A great Sufi master and poet, Hafiz, who lived in the 14th century, wrote I Have Learned So Much (translated by Daniel Ladinsky).  The words seem to resonate with our experience at the sanctuary.


Have Learned

So much from God

That I can no longer



A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,

A Buddhist, a Jew

The Truth has shared so much of Itself

With Me

That I can no longer call myself

A man, a woman, an angel

Or even pure


 Love has

Befriended Hafiz so completely

It has turned to ash

And freed


Of every concept and image

My mind has ever known.


Filed under Animal Sanctuary

15 responses to “Walk With the Burros

    • Your own work in veterinary homeopathy is very important. It puts you in the company of other dedicated friends who serve equine life. Deb Derr with United In Light in Montana rescues draft horses. Karen Head with Equinection in North Carolina changes human psychology by exposure to horses. Pat and I revere all of you.

  1. Amen and gracias! The residents at Hacienda de los Milagros are an interesting bunch. (Wynne included!) So much to say. So much to share. Wynne manages to keep it all flowing. We love the burros, horses, and assorted other creatures that share our lives through HDLM and know that every little bit helps. Those of us have that have our own small ranches – housing many animals in our immediate care – clearly understand the impact of the cost of a bale of hay or a bag of feed going up several cents; or the need to have equines get regular farrier care; or the cost of immediate or ongoing veterinarian care for routine visits, injured, ill, and recovering animals…. Supporters who may have only one small animal in their home can still relate to the connection and the cost of providing for that one animal. Quality care is never-ending and all labors of love involve some degree of self-sacrifice. For those who’d like to have a sanctuary keepsake (cost not tax-deductible), please visit my small, simple, growing gallery. Find my link on the home page of the HDLM website or go directly to http://www.shewolfmedicine.com! Proceeds from items tagged HDLM are 100% dedicated to the sanctuary. A friend and supporter . . .

    • Thanks for the reality check when it comes to the self sacrifice of animal care. We get a small measure of it with our two dogs. Our human schedule seems built around their meals and walks. Responsibility for a 100 equines! How could you ever take a vacation?

  2. Your description of the HDLM Sanctuary experience is so right on and brought warm recollections of my many visits there when I lived nearby. I urge those of you who are reading this to check into the sanctuary website http://www.hdlmsanctuary.org/ and find out how you, too, can participate in the support of these special and unique beings and benefit from the radiating love that they generate. The poem by Hafiz says it all! Thank you!

    • Our visit to Chino Valley in 2004 was made more special by the time Pat and I spent with you and Matthew. Becoming his friend in the last days of his life was a precious gift to us.

  3. Wynne is a very special person and his sanctuary is an amazing place. I know he struggles financially to keep theses animals in the care they deserve and never had before, but he manages to do so. Bless him.

    • Today, right now, let’s affirm our deep appreciation and respect for those who provide a sanctuary for distressed animals. Where there is unselfish love, there is enlightenment.

  4. Karen Cowand

    I am on the board at Hacienda de los Milagros and my fanily and I have known and worked with Wynne for the past 6 years. What he does for these animals is absolutely wonderful. We have walked among the burros, groomed them, fed them and loved them. It absolutely breaks our hearts when one of them goes to their happy grounds in the sky. But, we also know that they will never have any more problems with their bodies again. If more people were to vist this place they would understand more about animals in general and there probably wouldn’t be as much neglect and abuse to all animals. That would be a wonderful thing!!!

  5. This conversation about HDLM brings important focus to how our treatment of animals is a statement about us as individuals and as a society. Networking this discussion is a positive sign.

  6. We need more Wynn’s and HDLM’s in this world.

  7. Thank you for a beautiful post.

  8. Mony, all of us HDLM are truly honored by your comments, as we were by Pat and your visit. I am blessed beyond description with the incredible souls who are pat of HDLM, doing our part to help reconnect humans with all life as it was and is intended. When you wonder if humans are capabler, we ARE It is up to us to make that decision, and live our lives as one.

    Itg is

  9. HDLM was just honored by being voted HuffPost’s Impact Local Charity for March 2012. Thank you!!!

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