A donkey who lived on his own in a shed is now thriving at a Guardian home with a new best friend called Pedro.
Mary Almond discovered Harry when she was arranging the purchase of cows from a farm in Lancashire in 2018. When it transpired that the cows’ paperwork was not in order, Mary turned her attention to the 18-month-old Harry, who she spotted in a nearby shed ‘looking sorry for himself’ with no other donkeys to keep him company.
Mary says: “I was delighted to learn that this donkey was for sale, and as we had an empty trailer, I felt compelled to offer him a home.”
Once Mary led Harry to her trailer, he was transported to her smallholding near Hadrian’s Wall.
Having lived in Sudan, Uganda-born Mary had grown an affinity for donkeys, who often traverse the country’s dusty roads – and this was her opportunity to give one a safe, loving home.
Although she had undertaken her Level 1 Introduction to Donkey Care course with The Donkey Sanctuary, the task of caring for the 18-month-old stallion was not easy.
She says: “I found myself on an exceptionally steep learning curve with only the knowledge I had gained from my courses in Devon to help me, together with many years caring for a wide variety of pets.
“It was Donkey Welfare Adviser Charly Wain who saved the day and helped me through some very difficult times when I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew.
“I will always be grateful to both Charly and Donkey Welfare Adviser Sally Bamforth, who have both been wonderful allies and taught me a great deal in a constructive and encouraging manner.”
As time went on, both Mary and Harry’s relationship continued to strengthen. However, as winter began to sweep in, Mary noticed he was getting bored on his own in his stable.
She says: “Initially, Harry had no voice and was very quiet and easy to handle. But as he got bored over winter and I had run out of entertainment resorting to singing carols to him one evening, we knew we needed to find a friend for him.
“My partner Chris set about constructing a lovely lean-to next to a barn, and our fencer created a network of paddocks.
“After having Harry for over a year, we set about finding a suitable companion with the help of The Donkey Sanctuary.”
The search proved fruitful – Mary was notified of a donkey named Pedro, living in the nearby town of Hexham with two other donkeys. Pedro had not bonded with the pair and needed a new friend to share his life with.
Although Harry and Pedro are very different in size and appearance, they immediately bonded, and a friendship blossomed.
Mary says: “They are well matched in terms of their character and standing, and they play in the usual donkey way, with both of them initiating energetic games and chasing each other around the paddock.”
DWA Sally Bamforth adds: “Throughout my time working with Mary, I have seen such a big difference in both Harry’s confidence and behaviour.
“This is a testament to Mary’s willingness and ability to act on the advice and information we have given her so she can provide the best life for Harry.
“Bringing in Pedro was a big turning point. We know that donkeys thrive when living in the company of other donkeys, and in Harry’s case, he seems so much happier than the donkey I originally met.”
Mary and Chris have since sold their smallholding and moved to the picturesque village of Thorngrafton in the Tyne valley.
Mary says: “Both Harry and Pedro are visited regularly by walkers and horse riders, who can admire them over the wall. They are very lucky donkeys!”
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