It never gets any easier saying goodbye to one of our four-legged friends and I often wonder when is the right time to say goodbye to our beloved animals?
It is so easy to become wrapped up in our own emotions that you can quite easily say “just one more day”, but when you are a part of a large organisation which is supported by thousands of people around the world, you always have to put the care and welfare of the donkey first.
When you work for The Donkey Sanctuary, the donkeys become an extension of your family. They are on your mind and they naturally become second nature. Before you know it, your job becomes a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week journey.
I have seen many donkeys come and go over the years, but only a small number have passed away. Today is one of those days and sadly we have said goodbye to our much loved Donk Dean.
Goodbye from all your friends, both two-legged and four
Donk was only 4 years old when he first arrived at The Donkey Sanctuary where he stayed in one of our holding bases for 3 months before arriving here at our donkey assisted therapy centre in Birmingham in April 1991.
He was previously owned by an elderly couple who could no longer cope with such a strong-minded young donkey.
Donk was a part of a group of donkeys that lived with me and my family at home before moving to Sutton Park in 1994 when the Centre was opened 21 years ago.
He was also one of the original four, along with Blacknose Ben, Dinky and Pascoe, which first started our adoption scheme.
Our Founder, Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, chose Donk because she thought he was a strong handsome donkey and boy was she right!
Donk Dean was definitely one of the boys. He was so much more respectful of men. I remember when we first started to train him at home. He was just too strong for mom (Sue Brennan, Centre Manager) to handle so he was mainly trained by my dad (Phil Brennan) and shortly they built up a strong bond and mutual level of respect between them which lasted a lifetime.
Donk was a very independent donkey with a strong masculine presence and was head of the herd for many years. He would always make you work twice as hard when having his routine dentals, clip or any other treatment and knew exactly how to keep us on our toes! This made him part of our team with a strong sense of humour and a workman-like manner.
He injured his tendons in his front leg earlier this year whilst playing out in the field with the other donkeys. Donk was examined and scanned by our vet who advised he should go onto limited movement and rest for 6 months to allow the tendons to heel but she also advised us that due to his age (28) the tendons may not fully repair.
This was a chance we had to take and we worked closely with our veterinary department and followed all guidance to give him the best possible outcome.
Towards the end of the summer, after 6 months of long rest, Donk managed to spend some time with fellow friend Charlie C grazing on a small restricted paddock with the sun on his back.
I remember smiling to myself thinking this has been a long journey but at least he has had a chance to enjoy some of our small but beautiful summer. Although Donk was well enough to enjoy this time it was looking more unlikely that the damage to his tendons would fully repair.
Over the last couple of days we noticed Donk had started to struggle with his pain and was clearly starting to lose that strong powerful image he had portrayed over the years.
So back to my question “When is the right time to say goodbye to our beloved animals”. I can clearly say there is never a right time, you just know you are doing the right thing.
Goodbye from all your friends, both two-legged and four.