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Smokey the Mule gains attention in Talkeetna

by KTNA Staff ~ May 16th, 2012

By C’ebrina D. Tollefsen

In 1944, Bing Crosby posed this question in a song: “A mule is an animal with long funny ears / Kicks up at anything he hears / His back is brawny and his brain is weak / He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak / And by the way, if you hate to go to school / You may grow up to be a mule”

Smokey, the 11 year old mule, is the newest addition to the Susitna River Lodge.  Smokey’s owner, Howard Hunter, has had an interest in mules for over the last half-decade. About a week ago Hunter found Smokey though an online classified, and brought him up to Talkeetna where people have noticed him on the spur road just outside of downtown.

Mules are a cross between a male donkey and a female horse.  The “long funny ears” that crown their head make them exceedingly alert. Mules are intolerant of dogs, and will even kill them in some cases. This trait makes mules ideal for flocks, and frequently used for protecting sheep, so “Fido” may want to keep his distance.

True to the song, Smokey, at 14.3 hands high, can be positively stubborn.  Thus, he is enclosed in an electric fence. Hunter says Smokey’s zebra stripe-like markings identify him to be among the highest quality of mules. He enjoys hay and oats, but he is not a picky eater, and enjoys twigs as well.

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