Continuing our eye-opening trip with the DS-UNAM team in Mexico, Mauro took us to a small town called Tlahuelilpan, where he was very keen for us to meet a special little donkey who is close to his heart.
The donkey in question was a cheeky little stallion named Chaucho. Mauro first met Chaucho through his owner José, who approached Mauro after receiving some handling tips from him. José owned both Chaucho and his mother, and the plan was for Chaucho to become a working donkey like his mother. He worked for a couple of months when he was only a year old, on loan to some local people, but José was appalled with his condition when he was returned. This is when José decided it was not the fate he wanted for little Chaucho, so he approached Mauro asking for help to find him a new home.
Coincidently Mauro had met a gentleman named Guillermo around the same time who owned a nearby horse-assisted therapy centre. Guillermo was interested in finding out the benefits of using a donkey for therapy alongside the horses and spoke to Mauro about finding one that would be suitable.
So Chaucho’s fate was decided and the day came for him to leave José and start a new life providing therapy for emotionally and mentally disabled children. José was overjoyed at such a special and stimulating new home for Chaucho where he will be safe from harm or being over-worked.
Chaucho had been at the therapy centre for nine months when we visited, and seems to have landed on his hooves and settled into his new life.
He is now an important part of the therapy carried out at the centre, where the children enjoy spending time grooming and lead-walking him. He provides this therapy only at the weekends and has the rest of the week to play in the paddock with his horse friends. He has even become friends with a pig named Fredrika, who was casually grooming Chaucho over the dividing wall when we arrived.
Guillermo, the centre owner, commented at how surprised he was at Chaucho’s difference in personality compared to his horses and how many of the children who attend the centre enjoy working with Chaucho because they are less intimidated by his size.
We asked Guillermo about his relationship with Chaucho and he said ‘Our relationship is built on loyalty, when Chauhco needed rehoming at the exact time I was looking for a donkey to join my centre, I believed it to be coincidence but now I see it was destiny.’
Chaucho means ‘a piece of’ and we feel that he is living up to his name by ‘giving a piece of himself’ to the children, and in return the children are clearly benefiting from being with Chaucho – another shining example of what donkey assisted therapy can offer.