The Donkey Sanctuary is continually working to highlight the importance of behaviour when assessing the individual welfare and health status of donkeys and mules.
The stoic nature of these animals means they do not show pain and fear as noticeably as other equines. Sometimes small changes in behaviour or body language are the only indicators that something serious is wrong.
The phrase a dull donkey is a veterinary emergency, and is one that I have heard repeatedly since I joined the welfare team last year. Sadly, I saw the reality of this phrase unfold as Beattie, the donkey foal I wrote about a few weeks ago, became ill just after New Year.
Beattie is usually a bright, bouncy and inquisitive foal so when her grooms said she was not herself and seemed quiet; we instantly knew something was not right. A vet was called immediately but despite their efforts Beattie showed no signs of improvement and later that day she was referred to a specialist equine hospital.
Beattie had stopped nursing from her mum and relied on round the clock care from the vets and hospital staff to ensure she was getting enough fluids and nutrition to keep her alive. After a very tense and long week, Beattie rewarded the veterinary team for their hard work as she started to feed for herself again.
After 10 days in at the hospital the vets gave the go ahead for Beattie and mum, Rhubarb, to travel home. Everyone on the yard was so happy to welcome them home; even Chris the farrier was on hand to help unload the precious cargo!
A few weeks on and I am pleased to say that Beattie is back to her playful self. She has definitely put the troubles of January behind her and is enjoying racing around her paddock whilst Rhubarb looks for her favourite spot to roll.
I hope you will all join me in saying a well-deserved thank you to the amazing team at Rainbow Equine Hospital for all their efforts in looking after Beattie and Rhubarb.
Also I owe a huge thank you to all those who helped ensure Beattie's road to recovery ran smoothly including the grooms, transporters and of course our fantastic supporters without whom none of our work would be possible.
Here is to a happy and healthy 2016.