Donkey ends up on his bottom after falling into a well

  • Article by: BOB VON STERNBERG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 14, 2007 - 9:31 PM

All's well that ends well for Amos, the wandering donkey of Otter Tail County.

Amos is famous.

Warren Gundberg's wayward, wandering donkey got his 15 minutes of fame Friday, a day after he plunged into an abandoned well near Underwood, Minn., and had to be rescued by the town's volunteer fire department.

"I gave him a nice, warm bubble bath when I got him home and chewed him out for leaving," Gundberg said. "The only thing he hurt was his pride -- and his backside."

Underwood Fire Chief Bruce Huseth succinctly described what he saw when he arrived at the well a little before noon Thursday: "We brought some ropes and harnesses and looked down in this 10-foot well where this donkey was sitting on his ass.

"Not enough room for him to stand up."

Back up to a few hours earlier, when Amos and donkey bud, Andy, found a hole in the fence ringing Gundberg's hobby farm, about 10 miles northeast of Underwood. "The section of fence was just big enough for them to squeeze through," Gundberg said. "Normally, a donkey's nature is to stay with his companion, but when they got to the end of the driveway, Andy went south and Amos headed north."

Gundberg quickly tracked down Andy but couldn't figure out where Amos had gotten to until Bryan Nelson, a neighbor from about a mile away, pulled up in the driveway.

"He said my donkey's in his well, Gundberg said. "He seemed just as concerned about Amos as we were."

It turns out Amos had stepped onto -- and promptly through -- the flimsy particle board that had covered the old well opening. Gundberg called the fire department.

Huseth arrived with his crew and quickly figured out a rope and harness wouldn't work. "That's what we use with cows when they fall through the ice," Huseth said. "You hook them around the neck and pull. But that doesn't work with a donkey. I was worried about the amount of stress he was under."

So he called in one of his volunteers, who was operating a skid loader for a contractor nearby. The volunteer dug a long path to the side of the well, where firefighters dismantled the side of the well one block at a time.

"It went pretty smooth," Huseth said. "It was over in about an hour."

By then, the crowd of spectators had grown to nearly 20, including Nelson, other neighbors and a local reporter.

Even as he watched his yard chewed to bits by the tractor, Nelson waved off the damage. "Whatever it takes," Nelson said as he watched his well come down. "I love animals and I'm just glad it's OK."

Amos hopped out of the dismantled well and began munching grass. "He looked fine," Huseth said. "Bruised and scraped up pretty good."

Gundberg led Amos home on a leash, talking to him as they walked. "I bet you'll think twice about doing that again," he said to the donkey. "If you would have stayed home you wouldn't be in this trouble.

By Friday morning, the tale of Amos had hit the news wires and TV stations from the Twin Cities and Fargo were spreading the news.

"He's a sweet, adorable animal," Gundberg said. "Even before all this attention, he was spoiled rotten."

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