Dotty, the mule, rescued after being left behind at the Appleby Horse Fair, has now joined a thriving herd of equines living the good life in a Donkey Guardian home.
Dotty, who was abandoned in June 2018, is now a cherished member of a herd at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, an established Guardian home situated near Ramsbottom in Lancashire.
The sanctuary's herd includes six rehomed donkeys and mules Molly and Marty. Marty has been living at Bleakholt since January 2018.
Donkey Welfare Adviser Keira Benham says: "Because Dotty is a hybrid – the offspring of a stallion donkey and a pony mare – she has the tendencies of both ponies and donkeys. It was important to look for a prospective new owner with experience with both species to understand how the mule's behaviour may be displayed.
"I was therefore delighted when Bleakholt opted to take them, as they have years of experience caring for mules and supporting equines with specific needs in terms of their handling and behaviour."
When Dotty was left behind in 2018, she was given immediate refuge at Appleby Police Station, where she was contained safely in their yard and provided with hay and water. Keira and Derbyshire Farm Manager Chris Pile collected her from the police station and transported her back to our Derbyshire sanctuary.
In the months that followed, the Derbyshire team spent time working on a behavioural training programme to build her confidence.
Then, in 2019, Dotty met the woman who would eventually offer her a loving home. Sheila Linley, an avid supporter of The Donkey Sanctuary, manages the equine unit at Bleakholt, which rehomed four donkeys in 2014, and welcomed another two in 2016.
Keira says: "Bleakholt takes on a range of equines. They have always embraced any animal which comes to them, and they never shy away from a challenge. They are very aware of each part of every animal's welfare and how they all interlink together.
"Sheila and her team fell in love with Dotty as soon as we introduced them at an open day at our Derbyshire centre held in 2019. Three years on, their story would have the happy ending she so wished for."
To help prepare Dotty for her move to Bleakholt, she was reintroduced to Sheila and members of her team in October this year.
On 2 November 2021, Dotty and Molly moved to Bleakholt, and the pair haven't looked back since.
Keira adds: "This was a match made in heaven. I had always known that Sheila had a keen interest in Dotty when they first met at the open day.
"She was so excited to be able to meet her with the potential of rehoming her. She was determined to give this deserving mule a loving home, and I was blown away by how well Dotty settled in.
"She needed a knowledgeable handler who understood her individual characteristics, and Sheila and her team of dedicated grooms were a perfect match.
"They have shown they can enrich other mules' lives, and I know they will do the same for Dotty."
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