Meet Bartley who recently joined Aidan at his new home in Devon. Bartley, as part of his preparations to join Aidan, required a routine clipping and bathing to ensure that he was lice-free before going into his new home. Bathing a donkey literally drowns any adult lice and another bath is given 2 weeks later to ensure that any eggs that may have hatched are also drowned.
As Aidan has been on his own for a while we were keen for him to have his new friend as soon as possible. Therefore, to allow Bartley to join him at the earliest opportunity, I was asked to carry out the second bath in his new home.
To make sure that the weather was going to be warm and dry, Ray and I carefully watched the weather forecast and yesterday seemed the perfect day. I arrived at the home armed with perfume-free baby shampoo, sponges and a copy of "Donkey Bath Time" plus ginger biscuits as a treat for afterwards.
I had spoken to Bartley’s foster carers and asked if they could provide some watering cans with a rose head, a hose, buckets of warm water and plenty of towels. Before bathing your donkey, it is important to collect all the equipment you are going to need before you start. Most donkeys enjoy the bathing experience but for some it can be a very strange sensation and we wanted to be ready to make the experience as pleasant as possible for Bartley. As the saying goes ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’.
On my arrival Bartley was in the paddock with his new best friend. Call it sixth sense but Aidan slowly took himself a little way from us when he saw all the equipment on the lawn. Whatever was going to happen, he didn’t want it to happen to him! Luckily Bartley was most inquisitive and once he had his head collar fitted, behaved perfectly whilst I started to slowly pour warm water from the watering can over his back. Anyone who has bathed a dog knows that its best to leave the head to last and the same applies to donkeys.
Aidan watched from a safe distance but by the look on Bartley’s face it was clear that he was enjoying every second of all the attention and pampering. He had his loving foster carer on one side and me on the other massaging the shampoo into all the areas that lice love to live in and could have stood there all day soaking up the all the compliments about being such a good boy.
I gently washed his face, paying attention to behind his ears and the hollows above his eyes and after making sure that all the shampoo had been rinsed, we patted him dry with warm towels which Margaret had put on the Aga earlier.
After lots of praise and admiration of his shining clean coat, Bartley received some treats and Aidan, who had been giving moral support from the side lines, now eagerly joined in.
Once all the equipment had been removed from the paddock and the donkeys had wandered off to explore the hedgerow, the very wet humans sat down to a much needed cup of tea and a slice of delicious cake. Margaret and I eyed the rolling patch and wondered how long it would be before our handiwork would soon be undone!
My work as a welfare adviser is always varied and sometimes sad but yesterday was a good day albeit a little wet thanks to the gentle, adorable Bartley. I wish him and Aidan, who is equally as adorable, a happy lice-free life together!