Apple and Custard came into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary with their best friend Rhubarb and Apple’s foal, Pie. The foursome, affectionately known as The Yorkshire Puddings, were rescued by our welfare team in collaboration with the RSPCA and Humberside Police.
Both these donkeys had overgrown hooves but Custard was also found to be suffering from laminitis - a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues that bond the hoof wall to the pedal bone in the donkeys hoof. Apple was busy looking after and feeding her foal but she was also the most cautious by nature and took longer to adjust to her new surrounds and to trust new people.
"By working with The Donkey Sanctuary we were able to ensure that these donkeys were removed to a place of safety where they would be cared for properly. I went to see them after they had the correct veterinary care and farriery treatment and was happy to see them looking more comfortable. Working with the welfare team has been a great experience abd knowing I can call on them for help, support and advice can only increase our chances of improving welfare for donkeys in need." Claire Mitchell, RSPCA Inspector.
Donkeys commonly ‘pair bond’ and it soon become obvious that Custard was strongly bonded to Rhubarb. Separating bonded donkeys from each other can be a cause of stress and associated health problems so when we found out the Rhubarb was expecting, we had to consider how best to manage their housing arrangements leading up to and after the birth. The staff at our temporary holding base adjusted the stabling so that a partition separated Rhubarb’s foaling box from her friends but still allowing them to see, smell and groom one another over the wall. When baby Beattie arrived, understandably she received Rhubarb’s undivided attention - thankfully Apple and Pie were on hand to provide companionship for Custard - as good friends are during any break up.
Their antics have proved popular with our supporters with videos of them having fun in our holding base hitting tens of thousands of views when they were shared on our Facebook page - clearly you think they are as amazing as we do!
After making the journey down to Sidmouth earlier this year, Apple and Custard have been placed with a group of other mares, including fellow rescue donkey Maddie - whose story features in my recent blog ‘Collaboration creates change for donkeys in need’. It is lovely for us as welfare advisers to keep up to date on what the donkeys are up to and how they are settling in. Here is what their groom had to say about them.
"Apple and Custard are two beautiful girls and now they have got to know us they love to be fussed and groomed. They are still very closely bonded, they now live in a small group of six girls, four of which are confirmed to be pregnant. It's lovely seeing them enjoying the sunshine in the field." Jennifer Littley, Donkey Sanctuary Groom.
I am sure you will join me in wishing Apple and Custard all the love and happiness that the Sanctuary can offer over the next year and beyond. I have put together a little video of their journey so far as a thank you to all the staff and supporters, whose hard work and dedication means we can continue to provide these animals with the lives they deserve - I hope you enjoy it.