Sometimes even our staff get very upset when a donkey has to be put to sleep and it turned out to be a very difficult day for Alan Brown and his team over at Trow Farm when the decision was made to put Fred Snook, a very popular donkey, to sleep.
Every day our farm staff have to deal with such eventualities should they arise, and most times they are professional in their jobs and handle such a difficult time.
Jen Littley and Sandra Somers, Fred's two grooms, are no exception but on this day it proved not to be a very easy day for them.
I went over to see them and they told me all about Fred and the things he would get up to.
“He used to come up to you when you were sweeping and he'd come over and grab the broom. We even tried to show him off to the vets, but Fred would have none of it. You could see him eying people up to see how far he could push them. Not with us two though.”
Fred had been relinquished to the Sanctuary in 2006 and his owner, Mr Snook, used to telephone daily to find out how Fred was. Even up to the end, Mr Snook used to phone once a week.
Both Jen and Sandra remember the times when Fred went into hospital for operations on his feet. He was prone to abscesses which caused constant infections. They remembered a time when they and Alan watched from the viewing area in the hospital while the vets carried out an operation. All the way through, the vets kept turning round to give the thumbs up to say all was going well.
Fred Snook was quite a celebrity at the Sanctuary and it's understandable why. Mr and Mrs Snook kept Fred in a paddock by a bus shelter and public footpath, so Fred used to meet lots of people. When they found out Fred was living at the Sanctuary, many of them came along to visit him regularly.
Fred's two donkey friends were Albert and Harvey. Jen and Sandra both recalled that only over the last couple of months had they seen Fred playing with his friends. Jen went on to say: “Most of the time he was with us he had bandages on one front hoof because of the constant abscesses making him prone to infection. Apart from that, he was a very healthy donkey who loved his food!”
Sadly, due to his severe foot problems, the decision to put Fred to sleep was made. On the day itself, Mr and Mrs Snook came up to say goodbye.
Jen told me “On the day he was put to sleep, Mr and Mrs Snook said they had never danced for Fred. So they danced the Rumba for him.”
Clearly Mr and Mrs Snook thought the world of Fred and he was a huge part of their lives.
Fred has left a big hole in many hearts.