When I first saw Tommy, he was in a pitiful state, skinny, scruffy and suffering from severely overgrown hooves. His stable was filthy with nowhere clean or comfortable for him to rest. Tommy’s sad eyes met mine as I tried to reassure him. I knew in that moment that his life would change forever that day but he had no idea of what the future held for him.
Can you imagine what it must be like to wake up one morning and find that every car in your town or village has been stripped of its engine and wheels?
No vehicles – no means of transport for you or anyone in your community. All those journeys we take for granted – the school run, getting to work every day, the food shop – suddenly becoming arduous or impossible tasks.
Cold, damp, miserable. Three adjectives that perfectly described the day when I was called in to help the plight of a small stallion donkey and some other equines. I arrived at the site and looked out on rolling fields, as far as the eye could see there was just mud, no longer any grass, just churned up mud. Loose strands of barbed wire pretended to be some kind of boundary amongst the rusting heaps of metal, rubbish and debris that constituted the squalor that these animals were forced to live in.
Last month I was lucky enough to be working from our Devon Sanctuary at the same time as the Carols by Candlelight service. I joined colleagues and friends to experience my first Candlelight service since joining The Donkey Sanctuary 18 months ago. The atmosphere was magical and, as you would expect, one of the most popular songs of the evening was ‘Little Donkey’ which tells of the long dusty journey to Bethlehem.
Christmas is always a very busy time for all of our donkey assisted therapy centres and particularly so for the Outreach team. Here at Sidmouth we increase the amount of visits we make, from three days a week to five, for the whole of November and December. Our donkey interaction visits are very popular all throughout the year and even more so in the festive season, when there is certainly something magical about having a visit from a Christmas donkey.