The Saga of Pepeto the Lonesome Donkey

I was managing the Sears home improvement department which also included the farm store with things like garden tractors, chainlink fence and farm supplies. One day shortly after Christmas, this guy walks up to the catalog sales desk and tells them he has a return and asks where to bring it. They tell him to just bring it to the desk with his order papers. That's when he asks if they really wanted him to bring a donkey into the store.

At that time the catalog listed a number of animals; chickens, ducks, pigs, calves, dogs, monkeys and "Mountain Canaries". The catalog described them as gentle, loving, hard working and would eat grass or most anything. Ideal as pets for children and loved to be ridden. Their "call" was no louder than a dog's bark. They could be bought with or without saddle, blanket and bridle. (Shipped via express from factory in Arizona)

He explained that bought it as a Christmas present for his kids but the thing bucked them off and would kick and bite. It would also start braying at about three in the morning and the neighbors called the cops who told him he couldn't keep farm animals in town. He also said someone had looked at it and it wasn't a Mountain Canary but a plain old donkey.

They wrote him a refund for the animal and the express charges which came to a little over $1000. The catalog manager brought the refund transfer to my office and told me the donkey was tied to a pole next to our outside display area. It was now in my inventory and my responsibility.

I put it inside a chainlink fence display, filled a water tub and bought a bale of alfalfa hay for it. It was now able to eat, drink, bray and shit all it wanted to, it was one happy donkey. I asked the store manager what to do with the damn thing since it was totally unsaleable as far as I was concerned.

We decided that it would be a great sales gimmick so they ran an ad in the newspaper along with a photo of "Pepeto" which they named him. The drawing would be Saturday night just before the store closed. Tickets to register for the drawing were put at each register and a big box with a slot in the top was put in the center aisle. An announcement was put on the music loop telling everyone to be sure to sign up for the big drawing for Pepeto.

Saturday night came so I put the saddle and bridle on him and led him to the box where the drawing would be held. At ten minutes to nine, the store manager opened the box and found a grand total of three slips of paper in the box, two from one person and one from another. We decided that the man who was willing to fill out two entries deserved him so his picture was taken with Pepeto.

He drove around to the outside display area, pulled the saddle and bridle off, tossed them in the trunk of his car and drove off, leaving me, the store manager and Pepeto standing there.

On Monday morning I went back to the truck tire department and asked which salesman was going north that day. One said he was so I told him to load that jackass in his truck and take it out to where the road crossed the Canadian River and kick him out.

They charged the thousand bucks off as a store advertising expense so I wouldn't have to eat it and we never saw him again. He probably lived out the rest of his life wandering along the river looking for a mate.

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Copyright 2009 by Jim Foreman