As we come up to our 21st year as a therapy centre, here in Birmingham, we look back at the various donkeys who have called the Sanctuary in Sutton Park their home.
We have seen many donkeys become residents of the Sanctuary in the middle of the forest. The donkeys have all previously been housed at one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s farms, either in Devon or around various holding bays throughout the UK. Staff at the Sanctuaries will identify donkeys who they think are suitable for donkey assisted therapy.
Those donkeys who join us at the centre have usually been well treated, either having previously lived as pets, on farms or been working or riding donkeys in before they were relinquished to The Donkey Sanctuary. We find that donkeys such as these have the best temperament for working with children and providing therapy rides.
Some extra special mentions must go out to Dinky and Black Nose Ben, two of the original donkeys who started the mobile rides in 1989, and lived for many years at the Sanctuary, proving favourites with staff and children alike.
Also to Pascoe, a donkey that Amber (riding instructor and manager Sue’s daughter) had since she was a little girl. Pascoe was known to roam the centre like a dog, greeting visitors and giving special cuddles to the children who loved him.
Unusually for a donkey assisted therapy donkey, Birmingham is also home to a special donkey called Shocks. Shocks is a rescue donkey that came to the centre in 2011. Shocks’s injuries from his poor treatment were so bad that the staff initially thought he would not recover. But, not only has Shocks grown to become a confident, loving donkey, he also won the ‘Animal Hero of the Year’ award in 2013 for his services to therapy.
Over the years our donkeys have not only given therapy rides. They have been to shows, starred in Christmas parades, appeared in books and on TV and one even went on stage for an opera performance! But most of all our donkeys provide the most amazing animal therapy to children with additional needs. Meet the wonderful children who have ridden at Birmingham in the next blog.