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OAK GROVE — A Carroll County couple has respect for service animals, even unusual ones.

Robbin (Martin) Plumlee has always been a kind, compassionate animal lover. Her collection of animals over the years has included stock and show cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ducks, chickens and even a “miniature” pot-bellied pig which now weighs well over 250 pounds.

But the animal that recently gave them national publicity is Violet, a “seeing-eye donkey” that was purchased as a companion for a blind calf.

Robbin, a native of the Yellville area, lives with her husband, Cory, and their 1-year-old daughter, Allie Sue, in the Oak Grove area. The Plumlee family has lived in the Berryville area since the 1840s.

A couple of years ago, Robbin found out about a blind heifer calf that someone had for sale. Photos of the calf seemed to show that it didn’t look really healthy, so without asking her husband, Robbin jumped in her vehicle, drove two-and-a-half hours and purchased the calf. She brought the calf home, named her Molly, and placed her into a corral, at one of the farms belonging to their family.

It soon became apparent that the calf seemed lost and wasn’t adapting too well. So, the Plumlees had an idea. They heard about a miniature donkey that was for sale. They knew that a donkey has an instinct to be a companion animal, so they purchased Violet, who they called their “seeing-eye donkey.”

The two animals soon bonded. Violet has a bell around her neck, so Molly can always find her. Once Molly became sick for a few days and Violet refused to leave her side, even to eat or get water.

Eventually, the two animals were turned out into a 10-acre pasture, where they now thrive.

About a year ago, Cory’s parents, Terry and Louetta Plumlee, who also live in the Oak Grove area, had a horse they had raised from a colt. It had developed an eye disease and became blind. They decided to place it into the pasture with Molly and Violet. Soon Raz the horse also bonded with Violet. Today, all three animals enjoy life on the Plumlee farm.

Recently, Robbin learned about a contest, the “Pet of the Week,” being promoted by the ABC morning television show “Good Morning America.” She wrote an essay about Violet and submitted it to the show. She soon got a phone call from New York City. Violet had won — She would be the “Pet of the Week.”

Initially the producers at GMA asked if they could bring Violet to NYC to appear live on the show. It would take nearly a 20-hour drive, which didn’t seem feasible. They checked into flying her via a chartered plane, but that would cost close to $15,000. Then once they got to the airport, they would still have to figure out a way to get her to the TV studio. So, the Plumlees told GMA that physically bringing the animal to NYC was just not an option.

GMA said, “No problem, we’ll come to you.” So, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, a film crew came from Little Rock, to do a preliminary interview, and shoot videos of the animals in their home environment. Then on Friday, Jan. 31, the film crew returned, with a producer, and a live interview was done for the show.

Violet was introduced to the world and proclaimed the “GMA Pet of the Week.”

You can visit www.facebook.com/violetthedonkey/ to follow or learn more about Violet.

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