As you come through the main entrance to the Sanctuary, there is a large shelter on your right - Shelter 1. In here you will find the "weight-watchers" group of donkeys. These are donkeys that for one reason or another are slightly over-weight or have foot problems - or both! They are a lovely bunch of donks and always enjoy a bit of extra attention - so that's where Phil and I headed this morning.
The first donkey to come and ask for a grooming and a cuddle was Tom Harrison. Tom is an ex-adoption donkey who worked for our sister charity, the Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys (EST). In fact as I was grooming him, two people came over who used to adopt him thereby helping to support EST! They were very pleased to see him and Tom posed perfectly for the camera shots. As I was finishing with Tom, Tapestry - another ex-adoption donk, wandered over for her grooming. Would you believe it? Another group of visitors pitched up who used to adopt Tapestry! She, like Tom, took all the photos and posing in her stride!
Lizzie has always seemed a bit wary and has taken a while to get to know Phil and I. But today she came over and watched closely as Phil was grooming Henry, and I was grooming Tom and Tapestry. She then stood quietly while Phil groomed her and then she continued to stand next to us, nudging us every now and then as if to remind us she was still there. In fact Lizzie stayed with us for the whole duration of our time with this group of donkeys! What a lovely little donkey is Lizzie!
Harlequin is the son of Bridget, and they are very closely bonded... a fact I forgot to mention to Phil. As I was busy grooming Cinders, I heard a kerfuffle behind me - it was Harlequin stamping his feet and generally giving Phil a bit of a hard time as he tried to groom him. "What on earth is the matter with Harley?", said Phil.
"He needs his mum!", I replied! Yes, Harlequin may be 17 years' old but he really does not like to be groomed unless mum Bridget is nearby! So Bridget was swiftly found, Harlequin calmed down and quiet, peaceful grooming was resumed!
There is a recent arrival in Shelter 1 called Alvin. It took a couple of weeks, but Alvin now feels brave enough to come over to say hello and ask for a grooming. I know when Alvin is feeling relaxed, as he likes to rest his chin on the back of the nearest donkey as he is being groomed. The more relaxed he becomes, the more his bottom lip seems to slip sideways and the heavier his eyes seem to become! He really is quite a character and I've become very fond of Alvin.
There are many other little characters in Shelter 1, such as Thistle, who likes to do things in her own time and in her own way; Jack P who's very quiet and loves having his cheeks gently brushed and Bella who likes nothing more than to give us Quality Time Volunteers the run-around!
So if you come and visit the Sanctuary - do go and say hello to this lovely group of donkeys in Shelter 1.