Knysna - The special bond between Judith Hopley, 76, and her beloved 38-year-old donkey Genevieve, has come a long way."I grew up on a farm in Kenya's Rift Valley and all I wanted to do is go back and farm. But I ended up with my donkeys instead," Hopley said.Throughout the years she cared for many donkeys, but Genevieve was close to her heart, Netwerk24 reportedGenevieve recently retired at Happy Hooves, a haven for horses near Knysna, because Hopley is no longer able to look after her.It was traumatic for both of them, and for the first few days, Genevieve didn't want to eat or have anything to do with anyone."She was pining to death for Judith," Annerie Graham of the haven said.She let Hopley know that her donkey-child was very unhappy. Hopley then took a down blanket and a book and went to lay with Genevieve in her stable the whole day and read to her. "After that, she accepted that this was her home now," said Hopley.'The good old days'Her love affair with donkeys started in Knysna about 30 years ago. She fetched Genevieve, who was in a very bad condition, from people in the area. "In English a female donkey is a 'jenny' and in French 'vivre' means life. That’s how she got her name – I didn't know if she would survive."But I also had Violetta and Luciano [named after Pavarotti]. My donkeys all had pretty names."Known among local residents as the "donkie tannie" (donkey auntie), Hopley said her father had farmed with horses. As a child she'd wanted a horse, but her mom had refused and she had to make do with a donkey."But it was a terrible donkey that kicked and terrified me. My love for donkeys would only come much later." Now she knows that a donkey will do anything for you as long as you treat it well."A donkey is humble and walks behind you. A donkey is a symbol of peace, while a horse is one of war. That is why Jesus rode on a donkey and not a horse." Most of her other donkey-children have long since died.Genevieve has lost many of her teeth because of old age and gets special supplements for her stiff joints."She goes just where she wants to, and all she wants is love," said Graham. When Hopley comes to visit over weekend, Genevieve brays her joy at seeing her. Then she puts her head on Hopley's shoulder and they talk about "the good old days".