Tiny Tim is small for a donkey, but not for a pet.
The spirited cutie is 70 pounds of adorable spunk, and he calls a farm near Peterborough, Ontario, home. Though the Canadian donkey loves to play outside, Tiny Tim acts more like the animals who live inside the house: his two canine siblings.
“He takes on characteristics of dogs. He fetches a ball, licks plates as I load the dishwasher and sleeps on a dog bed,” owner Jody Topping told PEOPLE.
That’s because Tiny Tim was raised inside the Topping home with the dog duo, spending his early, formative days watching the pooches play and interact with Jody and her husband, Ted.
The donkey came into their lives through a surprise birth. Not realizing that two of their donkeys had bred, the Toppings entered their barn one day in June 2017 to find newborn Tiny Tim, a mini donkey, lying on the floor. He was 10 pounds, about the size of a cat, and in desperate need of help.
“His mother rejected him, we tried to get them to bond but she was very violent with him and we had to intervene,” Jody said.
The intervention meant taking the little baby into the house and feeding him from a syringe every 20 minutes. A week later, Tiny Tim only needed feedings every hour, and, over time, like a human infant, the donkey learned to sleep through the night.
“The first four months my husband carried him up to our room each night and he slept in a play pen in our room, as he was like a newborn baby and ate a couple times during the night. When he reached 50 pounds, he was too heavy to carry upstairs so now resides in the mud room,” the retired postmaster said.
During the winter, that is where the seven-month-old mini donkey continues to reside; spending most of his summer days outside trotting around the Toppings’ 113-acre farm.
Can’t get enough of cats, dogs and other furry friends? Click here to get the cutest pet news and photos delivered directly to your inbox.
His unusual upbringing has its perks. Tiny Tim is house-trained, loves to cuddle and play with his pup friends. He also adores pillow fights, pulling off all the couch cushions to make a fort for himself and rearranging the patio furniture. Understandably in love with Tiny Tim, Jody decided to start a Facebook page for him, and was shocked to see the page take off, racking up over 5 million video views in less than a week.
“He is so small, about 70 pounds and 23 inches at the shoulders at 7 months old, but he has a huge personality and loves to make people laugh. He’s very affectionate and super smart,” Jody said about why Tiny Tim has touched so many people.
Along with Tiny Tim’s newfound popularity comes plenty of questions from fans about how they can get a mini donkey of their own. As far as Jody knows, her unique pet is “one of a kind,” but she knows there are other little donkeys out there that need care. However, before you go out and get a donkey for yourself, she warns, you should be prepared for the commitment.
“Tiny has definitely changed our lives. We can’t travel like we had planned; it’s hard to get a sitter for a donkey,” Jody said of her unique pet, adding that “miniature donkeys are very sweet and loyal, but they are a lifetime commitment. They live much longer than dogs, and even horses. So, though they are cute, you have to think a long way down the road to provide for them. They will give you companionship, love and they are very loyal. You just have to love and care for them.”
Tiny Tim and the Toppings are currently working towards getting a therapy animal certification so they can bring smiles to people offline as well. Until then, the mini donkey makes regular visits to the local library, so his fans can meet him nose to snout.