What do you do when you can no longer look after your donkey? If you lose your job, a loved one, or your home? What if you can no longer cope with your difficult donkey? All these and many more reasons are why people arrange for their donkeys to come into the Sanctuary's care.
I recently went to see Andrea who, with the best possible intentions, bred a foal from her donkey called May so that she and Sioux, an older donkey, would have company should anything happen to either of them.
So along came Eli. From the start he had a difficult time. He would not feed from his mum and Pam Moon, my Area Welfare Officer for Lancashire, had to visit early on to give Andrea advice about feeding and weaning him. I was injured at the time, but Pam has lots of experience breeding and bringing up donkeys so was the best person for the job.
Eli grew up and one disadvantage of having a bottle fed donkey is that they are very confident around humans, hasn't really learned how a herd works or to respect your personal space. Eli had not yet been castrated so was also being an absolute menace to his mother and annoying the older donkey Sioux. Typical “colty” behaviour is biting and mounting other donkeys or anything else for that matter!
Andrea made the heartbreaking decision to relinquish Eli to the Sanctuary and I went to meet them both. Eli is now 14 months old and a very handsome little donkey. May had to go and stay with a friend to keep Eli from pestering her. Andrea spent a lot of the time in tears, but having volunteered for the Sanctuary and visiting the centre in Devon in the past, knew she was creating the best possible outcome for him.
As we knew Eli’s history having been well looked after, no medical was needed. Very early on Wednesday morning I met with Mark Mingo with his lorry in a lay-by near Harrogate and off we went to collect Eli. He had to park a short distance away as the lorry was too big to get down the lane. Luckily Andrea and her husband Neil led Eli up the lane to meet us. This was the first time he had ever left the premises so was a little worried. He loaded onto the lorry with a little help from us. It was an emotional farewell for Andrea having had Eli from birth.
Eli arrived safe and well in Devon on Wednesday afternoon and is settling in well. Andrea is going to collect May today and bring her home as Sioux is now starting to miss donkey company. What is not missed is Eli braying his head off at 7am wanting his breakfast!