When I arrived at Dante’s pen this morning there was something wrong, fortunately not with Dante but rather with me. One of the biggest influences on equine behaviour is the mood and mindset of the person working with the animal. That is why it is so important to check yourself before you begin working.
Having been involved with donkey-related welfare issues in Spain since 1986, our first European rescue centre was opened 2003 and is based at Fuente de Piedra, a 45 minute drive north of Malaga.
El Refugio Del Burrito provides permanent refuge to any donkey or mule in need of sanctuary.
Formerly used for horses, the centre has 18 stables and 15 acres of irrigated land and is able to provide home to at least 100 donkeys and mules.
So having woken up at 5am to think about what to do today to help Dante as you do, I got to El Refugio del Burrito early to see Dante’s behaviour before the morning routine began. Seeing him at different times of the day and in different situations means I have a better picture of his behaviour so I can be more certain about possible causes.
So I thought I better send a quick update on Dante’s behaviour. Working with this type of problem always has you up nights thinking about what the right course of action is and what plan we might use to help Dante. The answer is of course always to let the donkey tell you what the right thing is to do.
So how do you know what a donkey is thinking? Well, first you ask a lot of questions, and then you let the donkey tell you for themselves. Working with behaviour requires you to have a passion for uncovering the truth, it’s not that people lie or deliberately mislead me, it is simply that we all have our own perceptions of the same situation.
"We have a problem right now with one of the donkeys from Fuente de Piedra." As the Sanctuary's behaviourist this is always the worst start to an email I can get. There is a confused donkey perhaps in pain or scared that is in need of urgent help, it is in a different country and our European staff who care for this animal need help and support as soon as possible.