One part of my job is promoting, processing new applications and checking existing homes on the Sanctuary's Foster Scheme. I currently have 28 foster homes and 3 ready for delivery of new donkeys. Saturday was a long day visiting homes in the West Yorkshire area... 10 hours and 174 miles!
At foster visits I measure the donkeys to keep an eye on their weight. Donkeys being from the desert tend to become overweight in this country on the lush grass. They quickly pile on the pounds over summer and hopefully shed a few over winter. We condition score them and give a brief examination for lumps and bumps and anything unusual or different since the last visit. It’s also a time for the foster wwner to ask any questions they have.
My first call was to Otley to see Debbie with Boo and Yogi. Debbie has had her two donkeys over 10 years now and knows them really well. Yogi has had some unexpected “funny turns” in the past (usually on a Bank Holiday), but this year hasn’t had any Vet call outs so we’re keeping everything crossed it stays that way. He did have some very rare saliva stones removed last year which may have been the cause.
Next to Silsden to see Michelle and her twin daughters, Jade and Kirsty, who foster Mars and Molly. This is a relatively new home and the donkeys have settled in really well. Molly is quite a feisty little character. On visits I also take dates of when the routine treatments have been done and I issued lots of faecal sample kits and information as it’s that time of year again. The Sanctuary offers a free faecal sampling scheme to foster and private homes which helps with planning worm control. Normally I would collect the samples and post them off, but being a Saturday didn’t want to leave them in the post all weekend.
Onwards to Carleton in Craven near Skipton to see Margaret with John and Ned. I could see Ned having a good roll in the field as I arrived. The first spell of rain for a while obviously made rolling much more enjoyable as he was plastered when I got there. These donkeys only moved in this April, but they have settled fantastically and are loved to bits. Margaret’s husband has a building company so a bespoke home was built for these lucky boys. They had both slimmed down as have most donkeys this year due to the lack of rain and hooves are looking great with the dry conditions we’ve been enjoying.
Next call, Cragg Vale, Hebden Bridge to see Mike with Roy and Thomas. Roy lost his little friend Eli in April after a short illness and we delivered Thomas soon afterwards. They live in a very rural location so when we delivered Thomas we had to leave the horsebox about a mile away and lead him the rest of the way. As I was in my husband’s unsuitable car I did the same and walked, luckily it wasn’t raining. Both again had lost weight (yay!) and are the best of pals. I think Roy even looks younger now he has a new friend. It was lovely to see them so happy together and Mike obviously chuffed to bits with them.
Finally, I went to see Heather with Paddy and Tinkerbell in relatively new foster home. Heather absolutely adores these two donkeys and revealed that Paddy is starting to bray or at least trying to! He manages a funny squeak. Another slimming success and lovely hooves winner.
Anyone interested in the fostering scheme can find out and apply on the website or ring the welfare team. It is very rewarding, donkeys are great characters and you are supported by your welfare officer all the way.