Some of you may remember the rescue of little Filbert and Columbo last year. They were in a pitiful state with overgrown hooves, lice and poor body condition. Both donkeys were found to be very elderly, in their 30s, and too frail to travel to The Donkey Sanctuary but could travel the short distance to my home to receive immediate veterinary care and lots of TLC.
Well that was a year ago and I’m thrilled to say that Columbo and Filbert (now called Bertie) are thriving. Both donkeys have had extensive farrier and dental work and tons of love which has transformed their lives.
I have 3 jenny donkeys of my own and whilst I like to think it has been my care most of the credit goes to my girls for the renewed interest in life.
After being kept separate for several months to help with their recuperation, the time came to introduce the boys to the girls. Through the post and rail fencing much kissing took place and a cacophony of braying so loud that my neighbour rang to check everything was OK. My girls rarely brayed except for the odd shout at tea time but boy did they find their voices this time.
Once I was sure that all 5 would be safe together, I opened the gate and they have lived together ever since. It is a very rewarding sight to see two old gentlemen living out their days with their ‘girlfriends’. However, sometimes jealousy rears its ugly head, I just don’t have enough hands to cuddle all 5 at once and at tea time the boys have supplementary feed due to their teeth, or lack of them. The girls feel very miffed at just barley straw. The boys have their own stable which has extra deep matting and bedding to keep them comfortable and warm especially through this dreadful winter. Due to long-term neglect both donkeys had problems with their hooves but with remedial farriery and careful management both appreciate the comfort of a deep bed and are very agile. Especially when the girls are in season!
It seems a long time ago since I spent a sleepless night in their shelter on the day of their arrival wondering what will become of them. They have brought great joy to our home and hopefully will still have some happy years to come.
If you have an elderly donkey or one with dental problems please refer to our Donkey Care and Welfare fact sheets or contact your local Donkey Welfare Adviser for advice. Donkeys with dental problems require special feeding and all donkeys should see a registered equine dentist (BEVA approved) at least once a year.