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Woman with MS turns to Bella the donkey for support
Published Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6:05PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, April 24, 2019 9:57AM CST
A Saskatchewan woman has an unconventional form of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Joni Straker relies on her pet donkey, Bella, to get outside and stay active during her battle with MS.
“You kind of start to feel like you have an MS billboard on your forehead,” said Straker about her diagnosis in 2017.
“Slowly, seeing Bella every day, it sort of switched my purpose.”
Bella acts as the perfect distraction from MS, according to Straker.
Straker first tried to distract herself from her MS diagnosis with a new vehicle – but only Bella could do the trick.
“Then I bought a really nice pair of shoes and that didn't do it, so I thought I'd just upgrade to a donkey,” she told CTV News on her acreage near Saskatoon.
Straker and her sons spend time feeding the donkey carrots and painting her hooves with polish.
Bella’s breath always smells like garlic and she has a history with breaking through her gate, but the donkey seems to always make Straker and her family laugh.
“Say I had a bad day, I would just come out to see Bella and she would just brighten the rest of my day,” said nine-year-old Jonathan, Straker’s son.
Straker said kids on a school bus route, which passes her home, consistently yell for Bella when they pass by.
“She’s just like a big puppy dog. She just loves people and wants attention all the time,” she said.
Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of MS per capita in the world. It’s estimated 3,700 people in the province are living with the disease.