I know that part of the writing process includes cutting any extraneous elements to give the narrative a more cohesive feel, but there is one in particular I really do not want to lose. Early on in the book, my main character encounters a Donkey tied up outside a seemingly abandoned farm. She frees him and he accompanies her for a while. He's a silly little creature with lots of endearing mannerisms and a loveable personality, and since I'm writing a YA book I like having him there to offset some of the darker themes. Now the problem is what to do with him. He was originally a way for my characters to travel with more luggage than they themselves could carry, but recently I've just decided to drop talking about their luggage unless it's important to the plot (I get tired of writing what they do with their bags at every tavern, town, campsite etc so I just stopped mentioning it, letting the reader assume that they do something with them). Anyway, my character travelled to a town, had a little adventure in the town and then travelled to another town. I ended up leaving Donkey (yes, the donkey is called Donkey) at this town for a while, while my adventurers go off to continue the plot (because soon after they are in a town which is attacked, and I don't want to get bogged down with details of them going to save Donkey). Anyway, the next town turned out to take up roughly 1/3 of the book, all Donkey-free, but now they've left I'm left with the dangling plot thread of what to do with him. I've re-introduced him in a sort-of convenient way, but he no longer serves a purpose in the plot other than being a loveable pet and source of mild comic relief. And yet soon my characters are going to be in yet another situation where they cannot take Donkey with them, so he will end up left behind again. My only real options are either killing him off (which I would never do because it would be a major event when I'm already struggling to keep my book from being over long. Plus it would be really, really sad), or cutting him completely (which would pain me greatly because Donkey is beloved, both by the characters and those who have read my work). Thing is, right now he is baggage, a thing I have to mention every so often to show he still exists, but he also helps lift the mood of a character who has received some worrying news, so he serves some purpose. I'm rambling. Sorry. I guess another possibility is giving him his own storyline, say, finding a new home belonging to relatives of his old owners or something, but there's no real arc there. Any suggestions would be fantastic help. I'm sure most would advise I cut him out, but there may be another angle I can take which I cannot think of.