I looked at the course details when I arrived at The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth.
Three days of training, I thought, Surely there will be nothing left to learn at the end of that!
Yet as ever, despite learning much more about donkeys, veterinary procedures, even my own human behaviour, the three days of training with my fellow Donkey Welfare Advisers from Europe, Ireland and the UK just highlighted how much there is to learn.
A Donkey Welfare Adviser needs to have a range of skills from an in-depth knowledge of all things donkey, the ability to relate to people and their problems, animal welfare law, donkey and mule behaviour and how to train others in donkey care. To name just a few. It's also important to keep up to date with the latest in donkey care, veterinary developments, and how to harness our IT! Our mission is to reach donkeys in need and do this we need to be multi-skilled and utilise everything we can to get the best for donkeys and mules.
Luckily we have access to a range of experts at The Donkey Sanctuary but we still need to go out into the field equipped with our own personal “tool box” of knowledge so that we can do our best for donkeys and people in our area.
So these three days saw us interacting with the donkeys at Sidmouth and evaluating their behaviour - taking a fresh look at how we train others in donkey care and trying to see the training from a complete novice's point of view. A very varied but fulfilling week.
There is also another sort of learning when people from Spain, Italy, the UK and Ireland come together. It’s fascinating to learn about the welfare challenges in different countries and to learn about the life of a donkey in Ireland for example. Many Irish donkeys end up being rescued or rehomed with us and some go out to the foster homes which I look after. Learning about their needs is enlightening.
There's plenty of follow-up reading to be done and you never stop learning as long as you live.
Did you know that The Donkey Sanctuary offers training courses to people interested in fostering donkeys and to existing donkey owners?