This week I'd like to tell you about two donkeys who are special to Phil and I. Both of them are blind, they live in Shelter 3 along with the other blind and partially-sighted donkeys, and their names are Peter and Jenny.
When we first met Peter he was very wary and would walk quickly away from us, often bumping into things in his haste to avoid us. Fortunately he wears a padded head-bumper which means he doesn't hurt himself, but even so it was upsetting to watch him. Gradually as the weeks went by Peter began to associate our voices with being groomed and cuddled. He started to recognise Phil's voice as he called him across the paddock, his ears would prick up and he would scan around to try and track where Phil was, and then while Phil continued to call his name, Peter would pick his way across the paddock for a cuddle.
Now after several months of working with these donkeys, as soon as Peter hears our voices, he navigates his way over to us and is often the first donkey to come and say hello! This morning he came over to me for a cuddle and then he went straight to Phil for his grooming. Phil, in particular has spent a lot of time with Peter, always removing his head-bumper to give Peter's face a brush and to wipe his eyes. Peter and Phil have formed a genuine friendship and it's lovely to see how much Peter's trust and confidence has grown.
It has taken us much longer to earn Jenny's trust. At first we could not get anywhere near her, as soon as she heard us approaching she would try desperately to get away from us. After about three months of trying unsuccessfully to get close enough to Jenny to even give her a pat or a scratch, I decided to spend a good part of an afternoon standing by the fence talking quietly to Jenny as she grazed in the paddock. Slowly she came closer until I was able to stroke her while she grazed. That was a special moment for me, and maybe for Jenny too.
The following week I managed to get close enough to Jenny to put a headcollar on her. She was as good as gold while I groomed her, but as soon as the headcollar was off - so was Jenny! This continued for a few more weeks...
Until last week when Phil and I walked into the yard - and there stood Jenny. She didn't run away as I called her name, in fact she stepped forward! Little blind Jenny let me groom her, check her feet, and I was able to remove her head-bumper for the first time and see her lovely face!
Today the first two donkeys Phil and I groomed were Peter and Jenny. They had heard our voices and both came over without hesitation to receive some love and attention. It's those little donkeys like Peter and Jenny, who deserve some special quality time just for them, that makes our job as Quality Time Volunteers so worthwhile and rewarding.