Playful foals Jackie and Stephanie made quite an impression at The Donkey Sanctuary when Jackie was administered for care at our then brand-new hospital. Last October, aged 2-and-a-half, the pair found their forever home. We catch up with their Guardians to hear about their progress.

Jackie's journey

Spritely foal Jackie needed urgent treatment after she injured her leg in an awkward area - the inside of her elbow. Every time poor Jackie moved her leg, the nasty wound would open again.

At first, grooms tried to manage Jackie's wound on the farm with antibiotics and bandaging. In spite of their efforts, it soon became clear that the hospital would offer a far more controlled environment for her to be treated in than her usual barn.

"Young donkeys love to play and Jackie is known to be quite clumsy!" says Abi Sefton, an Intern Veterinary Surgeon caring for Jackie at the time (pictured above). "It's the location of the injury that has made this case unusual and challenging."

"We therefore brought her into our new veterinary hospital and put her in a heavy bandage that made her leg three times its usual diameter."

Specially designed so that bonded donkeys needn't be separated during treatment, the brand-new hospital allowed Jackie's best friend Stephanie to be right by her side throughout. Being on box-rest is challenging for any donkey, and particularly so for young and energetic donkeys like Stephanie and Jackie. Thankfully, the two - who are also aunt (Stephanie) and niece (Jackie) - had each other for entertainment and comfort.

Watch our vets in action with Jackie and Stephanie:

A new chapter for faithful friends

Fully recovered, and ready to take the next big step in their journey together, Jackie and Stephanie (nick-named 'Stephie' by her new Guardians) moved into their new forever home in October last year.

After over a year of guardianship, Jackie and Stephie's family reflect on how the pair have truly come out of their shells:

"They can both be quite mischievous - especially with the large feed wheelbarrow, which regularly gets tipped over or commandeered before we can empty it!

"We live on a farm, so over the winter the donkeys have cows and calves as neighbours. They can see the cattle through metal gates and often spend time staring at each other. On one occasion we noticed that Jackie was standing very close to the gates whilst a queue of calves waited their turn to lick her. She is quite happy to stand still and let the calves groom her (I’m not sure what they get out of it) - the evidence was her slicked back coat covered in cow saliva."

"It took about 5 months to get them settled in, and we now see a difference in their behaviour towards us. If they have been in the field, they now come back when called, without us having to use treats. Sometimes they come back to the yard when they hear us talking, which is really touching.

"Our yard has a small paddock area with a hard stone base, so it sort of replicates the dry stoney ground that is a donkey’s natural habitat. They have made a scrape area in which they can lay in or have a roll on, and they also have access to a field where they can graze the grass that the sheep have left for them.

"Every fellow guardian will recognise the routines of mucking out, making the straw bed and feeding. For us these are not a chore but a privilege - it has made us recognise how lucky we are to have Stephanie and Jackie to look after."

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