Old Bill poses for pictures with Writers and Director of Trouble on the Train, Nancy Arnold and Sue Kjellsen when they went out to meet their new charge. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Theater in Mesquite has become new and exciting again. The Virgin Valley Theatre Group members recently closed a production you may have heard of, “Trouble on the Train or How the Virgin Valley Got its Name.” The show was a huge success and sold a record number of tickets for the group.

In that production were a bunch of crazy characters including a character named Donkey Shane. The Donkey Shane character required a costume which was loaned to them by Joan Dunkle, owner of the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR) in Scenic, AZ.

Teri Nehrenz who played Hedda Cabbage in the production went to PVDR to pick up the costume and met ‘Old Bill’, a 30+ year old donkey.

Nehrenz is also a current contestant for the 2019 Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant. Contestants raise money through ad sales and after the pageant the money is split between the women and given to charities of the contestant’s choice. After meeting Old Bill, Nehrenz decided that PVDR would be the recipient of her fundraising efforts this time around.

The cast took up a collection to place an ad in the Ms. Senior Mesquite program book wishing Nehrenz and the other five ladies luck, but there was a bit left over. With the extra money the cast decided they would foster Old Bill during the time before the funds were to be dispersed.

The additional money collected was enough to foster Bill for one month and on Saturday, March 30, cast members gathered at PVDR to meet their new charge.

The meeting was a complete success and Bill was an instant hit among the group. Sucking up all the attention they wanted to give, Old Bill won their hearts and Trouble on the Train writers Nancy Arnold and Sue Kjellsen gave some extra to foster Bill for two additional months.

Old Bill was brought into PVDR about two months ago. He was one of two that was sent over from the Wild Burro Project (WBP) just across the road.  Old Bill and his donkey pal we completely untamed wild creatures, but they were old and not quite as wild as you would think.

It didn’t take them more than a couple of days to realize that PVDR was the best thing that happened to them and they took to people right away. Bill is quite the charmer and one very smart donkey; he comes when his name is called an even walks into the pen that contains his feed with just a word or two to get him going.

Cast members were treated to a special introduction to a new momma and her two-day old daughter across the road at the WBP; neither of the donkey’s have names yet.

The Wild Burro Project receives donkeys from BLM land all over the country and never know what to expect. This baby was born on March 28 just two days before the picture was taken to a wild burro. The baby was born small and is under careful observation to ensure her survival; it’s touch and go right now but volunteers are taking extra care with her bottle feeding to supplement her nutrition and keeping her close and indoors at night for safety. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Kjellsen was also enamored by the new baby and wanted to take her home but instead gave a little extra for the baby’s care as well. The baby is under the careful eyes of the volunteers and manager of the Wild Burro Project because she was born very small for a standard donkey. The baby is about the size of a new born mini donkey and they are worried about her survival. The manager of the WBP takes her home each night to hand feed her making sure that the young one receives all the nutrition she needs to grow big and strong like her momma.

Old Bill is set for a while thanks to the efforts of one crazy family of actors and animal lovers along with the generosity of Dunkle; they never would have known about Old Bill if Dunkle didn’t loan them the costume.