I stole this idea from the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch,
a place I'd never heard of until I saw one of their pictures shared on Facebook.
The picture showed a group of burros, happily licking a jolly ball smeared with peanut butter.
What a great idea, I thought. Must try. But first I had to find out more about this Black Beauty Ranch.
I remembered reading Cleveland Amory's weekly column in TV Guide growing up.
What did he have to do with burros?
Everything, it turns out. In 1979, he organized an airlift of 577 burros from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The burros were slated to be shot because of claims that they were destroying the flora in the canyon.
Amory and The Fund for Animals, an organization he founded in 1967,
airlifted each burro in a sling out of the canyon. It took two years.
Amory wrote a book about it called "Making Burros Fly."
The Black Beauty Ranch was created to provide the burros with a permanent sanctuary.
It has grown to 1,300 acres and is now home to more than 1,200 domestic and exotic animals,
"many of whom have been rescued from near-death situations such as slaughterhouses,
biomedical research labs, and trophy hunting ranches. Others are discards from circuses or roadside zoos
or were former victims of the exotic pet trade...The ranch is not a zoo and is not open for regular public visitation.
Amory's vision was that it 'would be a place where animals are looked after, not looked at."
One of the burros airlifted from the Grand Canyon captured Amory's heart immediately –
she was friendly, and that became her name...Friendly.
She lived at the sanctuary 32 years, until her death in 2011.
Need a good cry? Here's a link to Remembering Friendly.
When Amory died in 1998, he was cremated. His ashes were spread around the ranch by Friendly,
from a canister that hung around her neck.
Me: Lucy, if you outlive me, and I'm sure you will, will you spread my ashes across this ranch?
Lucy: You bet. Give me peanut butter and I'll do anything.