Continuing the story of Hercule Poitou and his friends, I'd like to introduce Danielle and her daughter Iolanthe. Danielle was the first pure-bred Poitou to be born at the Sanctuary back in 1991, and Iolanthe is her daughter, also a pure-bred. They are like a pair of bookends – rarely apart and almost identical to look at. Danielle and Iolanthe are often found standing by the fence together waiting to see any visitors who may come up to Buffalo Barn. Both of them are quiet, affectionate donkeys who enjoy being fussed and groomed – just as long as they are standing close together!
Which brings me to another observation about this group of Poitou donkeys as a whole. They love to squash in close when you're grooming, presumably so they can keep a close eye on the proceedings. Unless you are accustomed to working with large animals – this could be a bit intimidating. So for anyone reading this who is considering applying as a Quality Time Volunteer, don't worry you will not be expected to work this closely with the Poitou donkeys! Phil and I both have experience at working with large animals and we asked to spend time with the Poitou donks. We were also carefully watched and guided by Pete their groom, until he was happy we were confident with the Poitous, and they in turn were happy to have us in their yard and shelter!
Another pair of friendly donkeys who are closely bonded are Hennie and Hirondelle. They are actually step-sisters as their father was Torrent – our much-missed Poitou stallion. Hennie is Vicky's daughter. When we groom Hennie, Hirondelle gets quite jealous and tries to step between us and Hennie, so we've found it's easier to groom them both at the same time. I'm not sure if Hennie would dare to do this with Pete or Tracy, but I've noticed that she also has a peculiar habit of threatening to sit down if you try and get her to go where she doesn't want to go - which is quite alarming if you happen to be where her rather large hairy rump is due to land! Both of these donkeys also spend a lot of time with their rather naughty, attention-seeking brother/step-brother, Inky.
Inky demands attention and if he doesn't get it he will make a big fuss. He, like Gilbert, will try and nudge you with his hoof – a substantially large hoof as hooves go! The best way to deal with Inky is to ignore him until he decides to behave – and then groom him. Sometimes when he presses in too close, we have no choice but to push him out of our space – which usually results in an Inky sulk. Inky is an irrepressible cheeky character who loves to meet visitors at the fence or gate.
Erin is another part-Poitou donkey who was born here at the Sanctuary. He worked for a while at the EST Centre (sister charity to The Donkey Sanctuary) but unfortunately his feet are a weakness and he had to retire and move in with the rest of the Poitou group.
Erin loves to know what is going on and will invariably come and poke his nose into anything that attracts his attention. He enjoys being groomed and having a fuss made of him – but as soon as you stop and turn your attentions to another donkey, Erin gets jealous! He will try and push his way between you and the donkey you are trying to groom, as if to say, “Hey, you haven't finished me yet!”
As a foot-note - it was either Inky or Erin who opened the adjoining gate with his teeth, and let all the Poitou donkeys out and into the barn occupied by our miniature donkey Cobus and his friends - causing a great kerfuffle! Although neither Erin nor Inky has held up his hoof and confessed, they nevertheless remain chief suspects!