BROCKPORT — Margaret McCarthy felt drawn down a path she never expected she would find herself on, and it brought her and her donkey, June Bug, together in a heavenly way.
Margaret and Rocky McCarthy are the owners of Heavenly Hee Haw Therapy. Four years ago, Margaret found herself overcome with a desire and calling to get a donkey to use for therapy. She began the hunt for the right donkey, which would take a couple of years to find.
She and her husband met with Tom and Beth Crawford, who were selling a donkey. When their first found their name, they were too late and the donkey had been sold. When they called the next year, they spent several weeks going to see the donkey. Margaret felt something telling her this just wasn’t the right donkey, so they passed on this one.
The next year when the Crawfords called them again, she felt she had found the right one. They spent weeks going to visit the donkey, and at 4 months old they brought her home with them. June Bug became a member of the McCarthy family.
“It was just like, this is the one. This is the one I need to get,” Margaret McCarthy said.
This was two years ago that they first brought June Bug home, and the training began. Margaret said the training was difficult. She had worked with horses her whole life, but donkeys are very different.
“The Lord lead me to a young lady in Missouri, and she has been my coach and my mentor. When she said anything that works with a horse is not going to work with a donkey... As she coached me June Bug and I went in leaps and bounds,” Margaret McCarthy said about the training.
They had to teach June Bug how to jump in the van they got for transporting her. She learned to carry a flag, fetch her dish, go up and down steps, and is registered as a therapy donkey.
She has gone to churches for Palm Sunday, and the McCarthys gave a message to the congregation about why Jesus chose a donkey to ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
She’s also been to the Highland View nursing home and Pinecrest in St. Marys. She’s also gone to vacation bible school for the children to see her.
They spent the last weekend at the United Methodist Church in Johnsonburg, and will be at the Holy Trinity Church in Ridgway this weekend.
“This has definitely been a calling for me. I feel that we live in very critical times in the world today, and you can do amazing things with a little donkey, because you can open the word of God through a donkey, and with any other animal you can’t. With a donkey you can open all kinds of doors,” she said.
They try to take her to facilities that will benefit people the most. They have seen June Bug brighten the day of many people in the nursing homes to which they’ve taken her.
Margaret shared a time when a young boy came to their home who is in a wheelchair, and unable to see. She said the animals are used to seeing people pull into their parking lot, but when the boy’s mom pulled his wheelchair out, June Bug came running across the pasture and hollering. She ran right into the barn to be haltered. When the little boy got to rub the top of her head, he just lit up.
“Donkeys are very calming, and they’re used especially for autistic children. They’re very humble animals, their not high spirited.”
The McCarthys have many great stories of people being touched by their donkey that they’re eager to share.
“This one time at Pinecrest Manor, this one older fellow in a wheelchair came down. They said he hadn’t smiled very often since he’d been there. He went down and June Bug went to him, and he reached out and touched her. He lit up; he had a big smile on his face. He followed us around then,” Rocky McCarthy recalled.
They had many stories like this one from the many trips they’ve made with June Bug. The McCarthys are happy to be able to make this much difference in the lives of people in the area.
“If you listen carefully, the Lord does speak to you, but you have to get into his word to hear him. That’s what I’m trying to deliver the message for. Get into that Bible. Know what the Lord has to say to you, because he can take you amazing places and bless you. We have been so blessed and our life is just so content because of her,” Margaret McCarthy said, with tears in her eyes.
She believes God was calling her when she felt drawn to get a donkey all those years ago. She is so grateful to have listened, and started searching for a donkey. They are touched by the interactions they have every time they take her out someplace.
When they go to churches she gives about a 15 to 20 minute ministry service with June Bug up by the altar with her. She has a special vest with a cross on it for when they go into churches.
“If I were to go into a church and give this message without June Bug, they’re not going to remember. But you walk that animal down the aisle, and you connect with people. And she connects eye-to-eye with people... they will not forget that message,” she said.
McCarthy also said part of her secret is that all donkeys have crosses on their backs. This has to do with the message she gives in churches. She doesn’t like to reveal the message behind it because this is what she shares in churches. She said there are not many people that know it; they had even talked to a pastor who didn’t know about the cross on donkeys.
Margaret said she doesn’t have any education in ministry that guides her with this mission. She only has the bible and the word of God to drive her.