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Paz Family Loves New Mama and Baby Harper

When Amber Paz of Ukiah, CA heard about Oscar’s Place, a new donkey sanctuary in

Hopland, CA, she was pleasantly surprised and a little intrigued. A lifelong animal lover,

she always wanted a donkey and now her opportunity was here. A lot of things came

together at the same time, as if there were a divine hand guiding Amber and her family

(husband Jared and three boys Noah, Finn and Ben) through this journey.

The Paz family has been living on their family’s homestead consisting of several homes

on three acres on the Russian River for more than two decades. When a seven-acre

farm complete with a barn adjacent to their property went up for sale, they jumped on

the opportunity and purchased it. They also decided to acquire some farm animals to

live on the farm, so they adopted two sheep that came with the property (Curly and

Moe) and then acquired two goats (Beau and Luke), 19 chickens and finally their two

adoptees from Oscar’s Place—Mama (aka Dawn) and her Baby Harper.

Amber’s first step toward adoption involved visiting Oscar’s Place and meeting Ron

King, the sanctuary’s Executive Director. “We knew that donkeys normally bond and

pair up, but we were more interested in adopting just one,” Amber said. “When we met

Dawn and discovered that she was pregnant, we thought—wow, an instant family.

Dawn was a little shy and seemed like she was unsure and insecure so we came back

and visited with her several times. I wanted her to know that was her person and that

she could trust me.”

When Harper entered the world, Amber was right there to socialize the baby, a day that

Paz described as “very magical.” “I spent the entire day holding the baby, touching her

face, mouth, and ears, and lifting up her hooves,” she said. “I put down a blanket and

laid down right next to her with mom watching from nearby. At one point, Dawn went

into the barn for a short time and left me with the baby and that was a major moment.

The fact that she would trust me enough to leave me with her baby—I knew I would be

adopting them right then.”

Meeting Ron King and seeing the sanctuary firsthand helped to make her decision a lot

easier, she said. “I was so impressed—the place is clean, and the staff is great. You can instantly tell that these animals are loved and getting the best care they can. Many

of them have gone through tough times before coming here, but Ron turns them around

with love.”

Momma and Harper are now enjoying their lives at the Paz family farm as they learn,

grow, and bond with their new owners within an idyllic setting. “We have an oak tree

right in the middle of the property, and we often meet there. Momma and Harper visit

with us there, and that’s where a lot of the bonding has taken place.”

Amber had to learn about Momma and vice versa. “I started visiting with both of them

during their feeding times,” she said. “Momma was a little standoffish, and I could not

figure out why. But then I realized that for her, eating was not a good time for visiting.

She was all business. Once I realized that and made the connection, things began

getting better, and now she comes up to me when she sees me. We’ve done some

amazing bonding since then, and Momma is as sweet as she can be. She gives me

kisses all the time, and we love her!”

Baby Harper is totally at ease living with the Paz family, thanks to the imprinting work

that Amber started almost immediately. “Harper walks up and wants to be touched—she

does not think twice. It’s been a delight watching her grow up. She brayed one day for

the first time, and we were surprised. She was probably trying it out because she hasn’t

brayed since. Momma brays back and forth with my husband all the time, like a sing-a-


When Amber was doing her research about the donkeys, she found out one fact that

gave her more motivation for adopting the pair from Oscar’s Place. “I wasn’t aware that

they were being auctioned off and killed for their hides,” she said. “When I found out, it

definitely added some incentive to adopt. We’ve added two new family members and

saved two lives in the processes—it’s amazing.”

Amber’s children are also bonding with Momma and Harper, especially her eldest son

Ben who is a firefighter. “All of my boys fell in love with them the minute they met them.

Ben has been out there fighting the fires, and sometimes he comes home exhausted.

He calls Momma and Baby Harper his ‘therapy’ companion pets because by just

hanging and with them, he can unwind and relax before he goes back out to fight fires.”

Happy and healthy, Momma and Baby Harper are acclimating to their environment

more and more every day. “To be honest, they’re easy to take care of. They’re so smart

and so lovable--this has been a great experience. We are happy to be able to provide a

good home for these incredible animals!”

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1 Comment

Tina Arnold
Tina Arnold
Sep 16, 2021

What a lovely story. And such a happy "ending." Well, beginning, actually. I'm so happy for the loving, compassionate Paz Family and for Mama Dawn and Baby Harper. This is life at its best.

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