I’m based in Yorkshire and have been the Welfare Adviser helping with some elderly donkeys called Derry and Jenny since I started in June 2009. Since then they lost their friend Gordon to old age and their retired owner, Fraser, has had knee surgery and so isn’t as sprightly as he once was.
Derry has needed expensive drugs for his breathing difficulties and I have had to visit regularly with a Vet to issue prescriptions and check his state of health. At the visit in November Derry’s breathing sounds were worse and he was given a course of antibiotics – not always easy to give to a donkey especially if you’re not great on your feet! On the follow-up visit Derry wasn’t any better and to make matters worse Jenny was lame. Fraser’s friends were also incapacitated with various ailments so it was decided that they should be admitted to Vet Hospital. They stayed there for a week and then went to a temporary shelter for extra care.
I had to have a difficult chat with Fraser about the donkey’s future. Jenny did not belong to The Donkey Sanctuary and was rescued by Fraser in 1990 at Christmas as she was being beaten up by some men. She had a foal soon after at New Year. He was very attached to these two donkeys, but struggling to afford treatment and physical day to day care. He agreed to sign her over to us.
I thought a good compromise would be if they came to live with me nearby where he could come and visit and this was approved by the Sanctuary and they arrived in early January.
For donkeys in their 30’s they are quite a feisty pair and enjoy their new shelter and patio. Jenny is the boss and food-orientated so after a long day at work when she walked passed me and their feed into the shelter I knew something was wrong. I called the Vet and Jenny started a week of intensive pain relief, antibiotics, blood tests, dental visit and hand feeding with anything I could get her to eat.
We were all very worried about her and I called Fraser to let him know she was poorly and the prognosis was not good. He got a friend to whizz him over and I could see she recognised his voice straightaway and she ate a piece of bread from him! She was up and downhill all week and I almost rang the Vet on two separate occasions thinking she had reached the end of the road, but she surprised us when I moved her into a field with longer grass and a hedge she could pick at she slowly began to eat normally again.
What a relief – If you saw the last episode of Happy Valley which aired that week Sgt Catherine Cawood said near the end “What a (bleep bleep) week!” It was definitely one of those for me too.
Long term Jenny maybe has some underlying problem, but I’m managing it and as long as she’s happy, doing well and eating then so am I.