How Tiptoe, the loving seeing-eye donkey, rose to stardom among Minnesota seniors

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Tiptoe the donkey meets residents at a senior community in Minnesota. —Erin Larson
Tiptoe the donkey meets residents at a senior community in Minnesota. —Erin Larson 

In the heart of Minnesota, Tiptoe, a unique donkey, is making a remarkable impact by serving as a seeing-eye companion for a blind horse named Ty, People magazine reported.  

Owned by Erin Larson, a 39-year-old fundraiser for We Can Ride, a therapeutic riding organisation, Tiptoe's journey began when Larson adopted him after learning about his story on Facebook.

Originally a guide for a blind donkey at a local rescue, Tiptoe found a new purpose when Larson's blind horse lost an eye. The instant connection between Ty and Tiptoe turned them into inseparable companions, fondly referred to as brothers.

Weighing around 225 lbs, Tiptoe had a challenging start in life, being orphaned and trampled by his mother. Rescued and raised by a caregiver, he developed a bond with people, thinking of himself as one. 

This resilient donkey, once fighting for his life at the University of Minnesota's veterinary ICU, now spreads joy during weekly visits to senior living and memory care facilities.

Describing Tiptoe's interactions, Larson says he taps into something deep within the residents, facilitating conversations and bringing smiles. The affectionate donkey also engages with school children and participates in STEM lessons, gaining a following around the Twin Cities.

Larson emphasizes Tiptoe's special ability to connect with people, describing moments when he seeks hugs, kisses, and snuggles during his visits. She marvels at his resilience and gentle kindness, seeing his journey as a source of joy for both Tiptoe and those he encounters.