Meet the Donkeys

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Eli

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L

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Read Vanellope's story

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Bob

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Once you have selected your sponsorship level and made payment arrangements, you will receive an email from [email protected] asking you which donkey you would like to sponsor.

Bella

Our Bella may be a mini, but she is mighty! This mama came in from a situation of 200 mini donkeys who had been left to fend for themselves. What had started out as a breeding business with five pairs became a nightmare situation of neglect. Inbreeding, starvation, lack of medical care was just some of the problems. As the females gave birth to babies who were often underweight, deformed or in many cases blind, they then had to defend them from the uncastrated males who would try to kill them.

Bella was one of these mamas. Fending off attacks on her baby girl Pepper and trying to produce enough milk when there was insufficient food, Bella struggled. The fact that she was already pregnant with her baby boy, Bo did not make things easier.

Bella, now 12 years old, has lived at the rescue we adopted her from since 2016. The trauma of her survival has had a profound effect on this little mama. She accepts hoof care and medical treatment but shows little desire for human affection. To ease Bella’s anxiety, she has been allowed to remain with her two offspring, Pepper, and Bo, now seven and six years old, respectively.

We will never give up on Bella. She is shown lots of love and patience. We believe the day will come when Bella will reach out to us and call us friends.

Would you like to sponsor Bella?

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Edgar

If only he could talk, I think Edgar would tell us a story about himself as the leader of a wild herd. Showing off his scars along with his mutilated ears, he would talk of the many battles he fought to defend his family from intruders. Letting us see the right eye socket that healed incorrectly he could tell us how he survived a vicious kick in a battle with another Jack. Standing tall and proud, Edgar, now 22 years old, still commands a presence.

Upon his arrival at the rescue we adopted him from, he was obviously underweight. Extra feeding in a small corral separate from the other donkeys was arranged. There, the humans learned how smart Edgar really was. In only three days he learned his name and the command, “Edgar, grain, get in your pen.” His caretakers also learned how guarded he was. Every other day for 6 weeks Edgar ate his grain while a volunteer sat in the corral with him. Every other day for 6 weeks his back leg bounced up and down as a warning to stay back. Once he was at a healthy weight and graining stopped, so did Edgar’s interest in humans. He refused to engage in any contact or allow any of his caretakers to get close.

Trusting humans was yet another battle for Edgar. He had to overcome his capture by the BLM and then his journey to the rescue. It took almost two years of gentle voices talking, Edgar watching the other donkeys greet humans, seeing how they asked to be touched and massaged, watching them feed from human hands.

Once Edgar let his guard down to be touched, his trust in humans grew quickly. Now Edgar loves to be hugged, petted, and massaged. He seeks human companionship and allows himself to be haltered for a morning walk. However, the biggest telling moment of Edgar’s trust in humans, was the day he allowed his caretakers to pick up his front and his back feet without a single warning kick. The battle is over and there are no losers! Congratulations Edgar!

Would you like to sponsor Edgar?

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Winky

"One-eyed" Winky came to us from the Bureau of Land Management. Blind in his left eye, being removed from his natural home to the BLM herding center was very traumatic. When Winky first came to the rescue we adopted him, he only needed to see a human to send him running for the farthest corner of his pasture. For months the rescue tried many different approaches to win his trust, but he was a puzzle. Not having perfect eyesight, he wouldn’t come near enough to let us become familiar. The lack of trust prevented him from trying treats we offered, he didn’t recognize the smells of apples, carrots, or oat treats. The one thing Winky did need was companionship, another donkey to stay beside him and make him feel safe. The other donkeys seem to realize this and took turns being Winky’s guardian never leaving him alone that first year.

Months of Winky watching humans brush, walk, and love the other donkeys started to show as he closed the distance between humans and himself in the pen. Winky showed that he knew the humans were his food source when he would stand at the front gate, watching and sometimes calling, when the feeder was empty, wanting the humans to refill it. Still no touching and still no soft lips taking an offered treat out of hand.

Progress happened when Winky began on his own following the humans that were walking other donkeys. He seemed to understand that a reward was offered after a completed walk. However, he still wouldn’t accept a reward he didn’t recognize.

The way to Winky’s heart was shown to us by our oldest donkey Pete, who spent an afternoon eating the seed pods that had fallen from a Mesquite tree. Researching to find out that these pods are a staple for donkeys, especially in Death Valley, we decided to offer them to the rest of the herd. Every donkey immediately recognized the smell of the pods and came up to get their share. So did Winky! We threw a few on the ground for him and he ate them up. From there, Winky quickly learned to eat out of our hands. Without treats, he continues building his trust with us, following behind the humans like a shy puppy, allowing a few gentle pets before he moves away.

There are no words to describe the joy when a donkey who has been through the trauma Winky has, decides to trust you and accept you as a part of his world. Winky can take his time, we are patient, but we know someday he is going to want a hug!

Would you like to sponsor Winky?

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Rodney

When we met Rodney, we were warned not to be in a small pen with the donkey nick-named “Psycho.” His fear of being confined to a small pen would send him into a frantic whirlwind trying to escape without thought to anyone inside the pen with him. The sight of a lead or halter also sent him running although he had watched other donkeys accept both without any hesitation. It made us wonder what traumas this poor donkey had suffered. After being at the ranch we purchased almost three years prior to us adopting him, Rodney’s only indication of any trust was the act of joining the herd at the fence to accept a hand fed treat gingerly before stepping back away from the crowd.

Just when it was thought that Rodney was a lost cause, Rodney decided that he needed us. He had suffered a hoof injury which made it painful to walk. Something had to be done before it became worse. Rodney was gently herded into our care shelter.

We knew the pain must be considerable for Rodney to allow himself to be haltered and confined as his hoofs were treated. When he was released from the halter, instead of instant panic and flight, Rodney stayed in the care shelter, no longer allowing himself to be touched, but letting us know we had gained some trust.

Since then, everyday Rodney brings us a little closer into his life. From walking up to greet us (from a safe distance) to allowing us the privilege of stroking his soft gray coat. He has started following us around the pasture seeking our company. It may seem like baby steps to some, but to Rodney letting us into his circle is huge. We are excited for the joys Rodney will experience when he allows the donkey massages and brushing sessions we foresee very soon. We love our handsome and debonair looking donkey with his permanently drooping left ear and we think he is beginning to love us too.

Would you like to sponsor Rodney?

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Winnie

Winnie’s story is one of never judging a book by its cover. Born in the wild, Winnie suffers from a birth defect that has left her front legs twisted and her back is crooked. Her walk is a slow plod carefully placing her front hooves. However, do not make the mistake of labeling this donkey as helpless, because Winnie will prove you wrong.

This donkey has had two babies that we know of. The first, a boy who was named Reno with the same twisted legs. The fact that this crooked mama had managed to deliver and protect this hampered baby in the wild is amazing. What is even more amazing is that Winnie was already pregnant again. The first baby was young enough to have corrective surgery. Since part of the theory behind the crooked legs is a result of poor diet, along with inbreeding, Winnie, now having prenatal care and sufficient food delivered a little girl with minor hoof issues, her second baby, Jema.

With the delivery of the second baby, Winnie displayed her strength and determination, protecting her babe from other donkeys, stepping in when she felt “playtime” was a little too rough, and making sure they both had their place at the hay pile.

Through all this Winnie showed a trust and desire for human contact. From the very first day she allowed the rescue she was at to help with her babies, calmly watching. Now, as a member for the Donkey Dreams family, Winnie seeks out attention every chance she can get, with nose nudges to remind you she is there. Winnie is a happy donkey who seems to know she will get the extra care she requires as well as lots of love.

Would you like to sponsor Winnie?

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Shelley

Being with Shelly teaches us many lessons. The first would be, “You are as strong as you want to be.” Shelley started her life in the wild with an extremely deformed front leg and a crooked back. The fact that she survived her childhood is amazing, but that is nothing compared to the rest of her story.

In the wild Shelley managed to give birth to a brown shaggy girl named Amber. Amber suffered with the same affliction as her mother, and although her front legs were not as severe as her mothers, both legs were malformed. Both Shelley and Amber survived long enough to be rescued. Her daughter was young enough to have corrective surgery, but Shelly was too old. A few months later, it was discovered that Shelly was pregnant. Even though Shelly was now receiving plenty of nourishing food and health care, it was impossible to know in what condition this second baby would be born. Life was kind to Shelly, her new little boy, Jethro was healthy and normal.

Shelly was an attentive and protective mother. The other donkeys learned very quickly not to underestimate the strength and determination of this crooked legged mama as she ruled the herd. She was quick to discipline any donkey who tried to bully her or her babe.

Another lesson I feel Shelly has taught us is “All you need is love and trust” From the very beginning, Shelly has been a gentle, loving, donkey, allowing humans to be an important part of her life. Her extra health care needs, frequent leg bandaging, and hoof care are not pleasant experiences for our girl. However, she never shows the tiniest bit of refusing any treatment, but tries her best to help, by lifting her legs, holding still, or whatever movement is required. Her best participation is in the love and kisses sessions that follow.

Shelly may have a loving, happy, home, but she continues to battle with her deformity. In the last few years, the affected leg has started to grow longer, forcing her to stand with the leg folded on the ground. It makes her frequent hoof care even more frequent, and more health care is necessary. Our never give up girl continues to roam with the other donkeys, nap in the sun, and snuggle with humans.

This loveable and amazing donkey who has been through so much, knows one more lesson, Life is not always fair, but it is the best thing you have, enjoy it!

Would you like to sponsor Shelley?

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Berkley

Berkley is a domesticated little girl born at a rescue in 2019. She was a preemie born to a young wild mama named Ellie. Although Ellie was willing to nurture her baby, her body could not produce enough milk, so Berkley was bottle fed. Needless to say, Berkley has received lots of love and attention from everyone and considers herself a star. Berkley spends her days playing with her “brother” Fred who is 5 months older. When their mothers were adopted, the two of them bonded into their own “family.” The two have been together since Berkley’s birth and thanks to Donkey Dreams Sanctuary will never be separated.

Would you like to sponsor Berkley?

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Fred

Born In the fall of 2018, Fred is a happy, handsome young gelding who still has some growing up to do. He loves to play with his donkey friends, especially Berkley, a jenny he’s been raised with since the day she was born. He loves to roam with the adult donkeys and pretend to be the alpha, although only he knows it! He loves to be brushed and petted and will stand perfectly still, head held high as he gets groomed. Truth be told, Fred is one of the rare lucky ones who has only had happy moments in his life. We plan to keep it that way.

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Cassidy

Named for Hop-A-Long Cassidy, our nine-year-old boy does not let his limp stop him from being part of his herd. Cassidy came from a hoarding situation, where he was denied any type of health or hoof care, sufficient food, and had been kept in a filthy pen. Hooves were allowed to grow to the extent that in many cases they permanently deformed the legs and feet of the donkeys. Cassidy is one of those who has been left with a “club” foot. Now he receives frequent hoof trimming and daily therapy to try to correct the problem.

Despite his earlier neglect and impairment, Cassidy is a warm and loving donkey. His limp may slow him down, but it never stops him from coming up for a hug or two.

Would you like to sponsor Cassidy?

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Bob

Bob began his captivity in the BLM, Bureau of Land Management. A sweet disposition and a yearning for affection, Bob has worked very hard to overcome his mistrust of humans and his terror of ropes. Lots of patience, love, and gentle touches have brought Bob out of his shell. His calm, gentle ways has made him a favorite of all who meet him. Bob loves to be your walking companion, following behind you, much like a dog. He thoroughly enjoys donkey massages, nose rubs, and hugs. Bob has made great strides from the nervous, fearful, traumatized donkey he was to the trusting, loving, calm donkey he is today. He deserves this happier life.

Would you like to sponsor Bob?

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Swayze

When you first see Swayze, your head does a double take. With a deeply swayed back and ribs that stick out from her sides, she looks almost cartoonish. However, for Swayze, it is no joke. Her deformity was most likely caused by years of being forced to carry loads too heavy for her small frame and at too young of an age. Rescued from one unpleasant situation, she became part of a dire hoarding situation where there was no health care, hoof care, or sufficient food.

Here at Donkey Dreams Sanctuary, Swayze receives the health care she needs and is learning to accept the love we offer. Although not yet willing to allow physical interaction with us, Swayze comes close and is willing to listen to us as we make promises of a happy life. Once refusing to come anywhere near us, she now walks up to the front gate to be acknowledged and accept her medicine.

Swayze is a sweet, shy, petite 21-year-old girl who needs a permanent loving home that can handle her special needs. Thanks to our Sponsor program, we can be that home.

Would you like to sponsor Swayze?

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Buster

Buster’s life has been one of relocations, from his original owner to a rescue, to his first adoption, his return and now to us. Through it all, Buster has kept his love of humans and his desire for their contact. He greets everyone who enters with a soft nose bump and a plea for a back rub. Don’t judge Buster by his size, because this mini male has a big heart and an even bigger personality. If you don’t believe us, just ask Elsie. Elsie is a very large standard-sized Jenny with brown and white spots and the absolute love of Buster’s life. The two of them, along with a third jenny named Fernie have been together through three of their relocations with Buster as their protector. No more! Buster and his ladies are now able to live out their Donkey Dreams at this sanctuary

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Elsie

Personality plus, that’s our Elsie! The first thing that separates Elsie from the rest of the herd is her brown and white “painted” coat. The next thing you’ll notice is the mini donkey who stays by her side. That’s her “boyfriend” Buster. Elsie is a big girl who calmly goes about her day doing exactly as she likes. She enjoys roaming the grounds and interacting with humans and donkeys alike. Always friendly and accepting of attention, you would never know that her life has been one of many upheavals. In her 21 years, Elsie has called 4 different places home before she arrived here. No more insecurity for this jenny, her forever home is with Buster at her side.

Would you like to sponsor Elsie?

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Fernie

Fernie was part of a wild herd that lived on an antelope preserve until Fish and Wildlife felt they needed to be relocated. Living at a rescue for almost 3 years, Fernie saw her closest donkey friends leave for their adopted homes, while she was left behind. Fernie was depressed and lonely until Buster and Elsie, a paired set of donkeys, decided to let her in their group. In her fourth year, Fernie watched as a couple came to visit Elsie and Buster in hopes of adopting them. As the couple bonded with Elsie and Buster, Fernie stayed close to the couple. When the woman was told Fernie’s story, she agreed that Fernie should not be separated from her friends again and they adopted her too. The trio left for their happy home with their new adoptive owners. Unfortunately, almost four years later, circumstances dictated that the couple had to move, and the donkeys would not be able to come with them. All three were returned to the rescue.

Although Fernie had been taken care of and loved at her adoptive home and was returned to the same rescue she had once lived at, the one too many moves took its toll. She seemed wary and unsure. She stayed close to Elsie and Buster, ignoring some of her former pen mates. With the humans, she was stand-offish and did not seem to want any contact, unless it involved a treat. It seemed she wasn’t convinced she was really “home” again.

Fortunately, Donkey Dreams adopted Ferny so she could remain on the ranch she was returned to. Fernie has since warmed up to her former self. She is one of the first to come up for attention when anyone approaches. She has decided to become a member of the “herd” here and interacts with her fellow donkeys constantly. She loves the freedom to roam outside the pen and mingle with the other herds but wanders back to her own for the night. Fernie knows that at last, she is really home!

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Lava

Lava is a beautiful wild burro who came into captivity pregnant. She gave birth to Obsidian who is also one of our sanctuary donkeys. Like many of the wild burro mommas who came into captivity pregnant, she is still learning to trust humans. We have found once the wild burro mommas see how loved by humans their babies are, they appear to be more open to connecting with humans. However, since Donkey Dreams is committed to allowing each of our donkeys to live the life their accustomed to, in Lava’s case, as a wild burro, we give Lava lots of grace to find her way with humans.
Read Obsidian's story

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Obsidian

We like to fondly refer to Obsidian as the little teddy bear because shortly after he was born, he turned into a black fuzz ball with the cutest teddy bear-donkey face. When he was born, his fur was pitch black with a white nose so he was name Obsidian. We have known Obsidian from the day he was born. At first he was not trusting of humans and then one day, Edj, our co-founder, was able to touch Obsidian and he fell in love with human touch which makes him even more like a teddy bear because now he loves his human cuddles. Obsidian was born to Lava, a wild burro who came into captivity pregnant. We adopted Lava with Obsidian so the two of them could stay together.

Read Lava's story

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Ralphie

Like many of the young donkeys we have adopted, our co-founder, Amber met Ralphie the day he was born. Ralphie was born with an extra dose of spunk. He also came into this world with what appeared to be no fear. From the start he was all in. So much so that when he ran up to you, he often ran right into you. And so he was name Ralph (aka Ralphie) from the movie Wreck it Ralph. Ralphie’s zest for life has led him to have lots of fans so he is often the favorite in the crowd. Like with many of the young donkeys we have adopted, we also adopted his wild burro mom, Vanellope (also named after a character in Wreck it Ralph) so they could remain together. Ralphie and Vanellope are very close and will get to spend the rest of their lives together here at Donkey Dreams. And since Ralphie is one of Pink and Eli’s friend, Ralphie will not only get to spend his life with his mom, but he will also get to hang with his buddies forever too. Based on what we know about Ralphie, this feels like Ralphie’s donkey dream come true.

Read Vanellope's story

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Peggy

Peggy is the most unique looking donkey we have here at Donkey Dreams. We believe her to be a descendant from the rare breed of Poitu donkeys who were facing extinction until recently. Peggy has the sweetest spirit with a heavy heart. Our interpretation of her behavior is that she often seems sad. We believe at one point she lost a foal and was separated from her bonded pair. She also experienced some trauma from a human, but still remains to be sweet towards humans. Peggy also has some lifetime health issues that require daily medical care, but you wouldn’t know it by interacting with her. Our hope for Peggy is that she finds a new lifetime buddy here at Donkey Dreams. This is our donkey dream for her. In the meantime, we give her lots of love and it seems to lift her spirits.

Would you like to sponsor Peggy?

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Lila

Lila came in as a wild Jenny from Death Valley, California pregnant at barely two years old. She had a very difficult birth before we met her. She had so much hip pain from her birth she rejected her newborn foal who became a bottle baby because she never took to him. It took Lila almost a year to heal from her birth which is about the time she met her 28 year old boyfriend, Pete. When they met, Pete was depressed because he had just lost his best friend and Lila was still in a bit of pain. Maybe they trauma bonded or just fell in love ,but no matter the reason they took to each other quite quickly. They are an odd couple, a three year old super model “pink” donkey and 28 year old gelding, but their love for each other is an inspiration to us all.

Now that Lila lives with Pink and Eli, she appears to have taken on the roll of big sister to Pink and Eli. While Pete takes his many naps, she frequently plays with the younger donkeys. She appears to have it best of all worlds.

Pete

We got to know Pete shortly after his best friend died. When donkeys lose their bonded buddy they can fall into a deep grief cycle where they often stop eating and some actually starve to death. When we met Pete this is what was happening to him so Edj (Donkey Dreams Co-Founder) started spending lots of time with him. Edj even played his guitar for him. Soon, Pete started to show a will to live again. Simultaneously, we introduced Pete to different donkeys to see if we could find him a new friend. After trying a number of different donkeys, we finally found Pete’s next bestie, Lila, a three year old tall, beautiful “pink” female donkey. We were surprised to see them connecting since Pete is 28 years old and Lila was recovering from a difficult birth at a very young age. They were an odd couple, but appeared to really connect and have been together ever since.

At Donkey Dreams, Pete seems to really enjoy his life. He grazes on all of the natural flora on property, enjoys breakfast with Donkey Dreams Co-Founders, gets nose smooches from his human friends and roams the property with his gorgeous girlfriend, Lila.

Rizzo

Rizzo is Eli’s mom. She came into captivity pregnant as a wild Jenny from Death Valley, California. She helped us save Pink’s life by nursing Pink when she was just a couple of days old. Since she nursed Pink from such a young age, she became a second mom to Pink. She loves her kids so much and always knows where they are at all times. We believe she is content being a mom and doesn’t crave human interaction like other donkeys. She also appears to really enjoy her grazing. We think that when she eats she goes to her happy place. She actually looks likes she’s smiling. Even though we have seen a significant increase in her comfort level around humans since she has been at Donkey Dreams, we anticipate that Rizzo will be one of the sanctuary donkeys who is here to enjoy her donkey life instead of a life rich with human interaction. We are completely fine with that because we desire our donkeys to live the life that they were designed for.

Read Eli's story

Sandy

Sandy is a wild Jenny from Death Valley, California who came into captivity pregnant. She is Pink’s mom. When Pink was born she seemed to be a little overwhelmed by motherhood but fortunately, Rizzo, one of her herd mates and Eli’s mom, nursed Pink for her. Eventually, Sandy settled into motherhood and has taken on the roll of “fun mom” with Pink and Eli. We often see her playing with Pink and Eli and doing dirt rolls with them. Even though Sandy is wild, she appears to really want to trust humans. The more time she spends around the two leggeds, the more comfortable she seems. Since we believe in an organic training process with our sanctuary donkeys, we will follow Sandy’s lead for training.

Read Pink's story

Eli

Eli is Pink’s bestie. We also believe him to be Pink’s half-brother because Pink and Eli were born one day apart and their moms are from the same herd in Death Valley. Often in the wild, one Jack (male donkey) will impregnate multiple Jennys (female donkeys) in a herd during their visit. Plus, Pink and Eli look so much alike and neither one of their moms have the pink coloring Pink and Eli have. Eli met Pink when he was only a couple of days old because his mom and Pink’s mom kept inadvertently baby swapping. Since Pink’s mom was not consistently protecting or nursing Pink in her first couple days of life, we decided to put Eli and his mom, Rizzo and Pink and her mom, Sandy in a private enclosure in the hope that Rizzo would nurse Pink until Sandy was ready to be a mom.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened. The four of them shared a private enclosure for months and became a bonded family. Eli is a little more reserved than Pink, but loves going on adventures with her. Because of Pink, Eli got to explore new things on a regular basis. While Pink is the adventuresome one, Eli has always had a regal confidence about him. We called him Prince Eli early on because he seemed to have a quiet confidence in his role as the alpha Jack of his herd. At a young age, he has learned to protect Pink, his four legged moms and even his two legged mom, Amber (Donkey Dreams Co-Founder).

Read Rizzo's story

Pink at sunset
Pink in the hay
Sandy and Pink
Sandy looking over Pink
Pink close up
Amber Pink and Eli
Pink looking to the side
Pink and Amber
Pink in Amber's lap
Pink laying next to Amber
Amber with Pink's head in her lap
Pink with visitor
Nancy and Pink
Pink and Edj
Edj loving on Pink
Pink in the shop
Pink and Eli at sunset
Rizzo and Pink
Pink helping Edj work
Edj and Amber with Pink in the background
Pink with her head in Amber's lap
Amber and Pink snuggles
Pink and Amber peaceful time
Pink and Edj enjoying the view
Pink trying to share Edj's coffee
Edj kissing Pink's nose
Amber and Pink love and kisses
Amber hugging baby Pink
Baby pink snuggling Amber
Young Pink
Baby Pink in Amber's lap
Little Pink
Amber assisting baby Pink
Baby Pink and Eli
Baby Pink and Eli backsides
Baby Pink and Eli nap time
Amber and Baby Pink
Baby Pink laying inside
Baby Pink being bottle fed
Baby Pink loving her bottle
Top view of baby Pink
Baby Pink on her ride home