Some of you may have read one of our previous blogs about a donkey called Spider. For those of you that haven’t, the story started in 1979 when a four month old foal called Spider came into the life of the late Dr Elisabeth Svendsen.
She wrote about him in a book called In Defence of Donkeys and this is how Spider's tale began:
To almost all animals being in a market is a terrifying experience. Having been uprooted from familiar surrounds, the animal suddenly finds itself surrounded by other terrified animals being herded by blows and shouts. Spider, a four-month-old foal, was put into a West Country market in September 1979 and was surely no exception. He had been transported to market in a large box containing a mixture of horses, ponies and donkeys and up to the time of actually being herded into the pen, had managed to keep fairly close to his mother. However, unfortunately for Spider, his mother was herded into a separate section of the market and poor little Spider found himself alone, being consistently pushed and kicked by the other donkeys with him. Although he brayed pitifully for his mother, and could in fact hear his mother calling out to him, Spider never saw her again from that moment. About four hours later he found himself pushed into a small ring where he was poked and prodded with sticks whilst people began to bid for him.
At this point, Spider’s luck began to change, as he was purchased for £28 by the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society. The society was extremely worried by the conditions in this market, particularly for the young animals which had been abruptly separated from their mothers and were being sold unweaned, and it was only the fact that he went to a knowledgeable home that saved young Spider’s life. The same society had previously rescued a donkey called Timothy who had been severely vandalized by having both his ears cut through. They had sent Timothy to us and had been delighted with his amazing recovery. From being so anti-social that he attacked every person and animal in sight, Timothy had settled down with the sanctuary, and the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society felt sure we could help Spider in a similar way. He was kept by them for approximately five weeks before being sent to the sanctuary. When he arrived he was unnamed and as I walked into the box and saw this pathetic little animal I felt ‘Spider’ was a suitable name, as his life even then seemed to be hanging on a thread. He was extremely small and weak and his forcible weaning had certainly taken its toll. We immediately set about continuing the skilled care he had been receiving and this, plus the love and attention he got, soon began to show results.
Extract from Elisabeth Svendsen’s book
“In Defence of Donkeys” published by Whittet Books, 1979.
34 years on and Spider was loved and adored by all who came to see him. He was well known for his crazy ways and every morning after having breakfast he would come trotting over to the feed room and wait for his ‘cup of tea’ - a bucket of nice warm water.
Unfortunately Spider's health took a recent turn for the worse and the decision was made by all of us and the vets who cared for him to kindly let him go over the Rainbow Bridge.
It feels like the end of an era for us as we knew Dr S was very fond of Spider and used to ask how he was whenever she visited. We just hope that he has arrived safely to the Sanctuary in the sky and that Dr S is surrounded by all her old favourites. Both will always be fondly remembered xx