It’s official – summer is on its way! The Donkey Meet and Greet Team are back in action on the yard! Jubilee led his team out for their first day of duty on Sunday morning and the old hands – or old hooves – slipped easily back into their routine of greeting visitors and pausing for photographs and cuddles. New donks on the block like Tuppence, were visibly excited but soon settled and began to weave their own brand of charming magic over the visitors to The Donkey Sanctuary.
George, at 40 years of age, is the oldest resident donkey at Slade House Farm and has been part of the Meet and Greet Team for an undisclosed number of years. George has his own routine when on yard duty. He carefully checks each stable for any left-over food in the feed buckets – waste not, want not! He then circles the yard to check all the visitors are happy and then he parks himself by the gate and waits…
You see, George loves to go for walks, to get out and about around the Sanctuary. Most of the time he’ll be patient enough to wait for one of us to escort him, but occasionally he’ll try and hurry things along by slipping out of the gate when visitors enter the yard. Luckily there’s another gate at the top of the ramp, so George’s plans for solo walks are generally thwarted.
So today when Phil and I decided to take a couple of donkeys for a lunch-time stroll, George was ready to go, together with one of his friends, Sally. Off we went towards Walk A and once hooves hit grass – both George and Sally broke into happy trotting – which in George’s case swiftly developed in to a gently lopping canter! Fantastic!
Now unbeknown to George, careering towards him on the other side of the fence at about 90mph was our youngest donkey at Slade House Farm, his little namesake – 5 month old George! Both Georges ground to a sudden halt as they spotted each other – 2 donkeys meeting for the first time, both called George, our oldest donkey and our youngest donkey separated in age by over 39 years. Phil, Sally and I, and half a dozen visitors all stopped to watch as they eyed each other and then greeted each other. It was a touching moment - with baby George showing remarkable restraint and respect towards George, perhaps sensing he was in the presence of an elder statesman of The Donkey Sanctuary.
Their meeting was brief but significant- and then the two Georges went their separate ways. Baby George raced off to torment his endlessly patient and loving mum, Bonny. And George continued to enjoy his walk around the Sanctuary with Sally – pausing for a few photographs and to sample some tasty nibbles in the hedges, before heading back down to the yard to re-join the rest of the Meet and Greet Team. Yes, winter is over and summer is a-coming!