Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gosh, I Love Donkeys

 When I was five years old, we were living in Kuwait. I was sent home to London after school ended for the summer as I didn't seem to be faring well in the extreme heat. One day my aunt and her boyfriend took me to The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon, which has become a model for donkey sanctuaries around the world. It was founded in 1969 by Dr. Elisabeth Svendsen and you can read more about how it came to be right here. I still remember that visit, learning that donkeys were still being horribly overworked and badly treated in many parts of the world, including Britain. I learned that when they were admitted to the sanctuary, they were paired up with buddies, which not only offset loneliness but also helped keep the donkey calm if it had to have veterinary treatment; if their buddy was with them, they were more relaxed. I also remember one particular field where there was a miniature grey donkey, rather like the one below on the left, and a larger white one. We walked with them and I can still remember my arm over the larger white donkey and how rough and warm his back was.

Several years ago my mum and I visited The Donkey Sanctuary in Guelph, Ontario, which has been set up along the same lines as the one in Devon. It's a beautiful spot. The donkeys have so much room, and are excellently cared for by the staff and a slew of volunteers who do an excellent job as docents as well as more of the behind-the-scenes tasks.

Two friends and I were back this summer and it really is a special place. We hung out in the barnyard with some donkeys and even got to brush them. I knew their ears were big, but I was surprised at how lovely and furry they were, quite thick and rough. Check out those bangs!

All donkey sanctuaries need financial aid and support in other ways, like fostering donkeys on your property, sponsoring donkeys (I'm helping support Ruby who is just about a year old!), volunteering, and signing petitions, including this one that will be presented to the mayor of Santorini to ensure higher standards for the care of donkeys who act as taxis for the town.

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