Some of you may remember Woody the mule, affectionately known as Mr Woods, who featured on our social media pages after finding and settling into his new home.
Woody had endured a difficult past, and when his previous owner could no longer care for him, our team knew he would struggle to adapt to life as part of a larger herd at the sanctuary.
Luckily, Donkey Welfare Adviser Jenna Goldby was on hand and came up with a heartwarming plan to secure him a happy future with one of our wonderful Guardian families.
Woody has since formed a strong bond with his Guardians Gene and Ruth at their home in Liskeard, Cornwall, despite his wary nature.
Donkey Welfare Adviser Jenna Goldby says: “On my routine visit in June, Gene and Ruth were keen to tell me how Woody had recently been a hero and saved the life of their ageing goat Monica.
“Gene and Ruth have a fantastic camera system, so when they are at home or out for the day, they can still monitor the animals via a camera link to their phones.
“One evening, they were checking the cameras and saw Woody stood in the yard staring intently at something out of shot in the goat paddock, which is adjacent to the donkeys’ paddock.
“They kept checking the cameras and, for 15 minutes, Woody stood transfixed, ears pointed at the same place.”
Woody’s donkey companion was up in the field grazing. Knowing this was very unusual behaviour, Gene and Ruth trusted that Woody was trying to alert them to a problem, so they grabbed their boots and rushed to the yard.
It turns out that Monica, their 14-year-old pygmy goat, had fallen onto her side and got stuck just outside of her shed.
If Woody had not alerted them to this, they are sure that Monica would not have survived the night.
Taking on a donkey or mule in need of behaviour support requires time, patience and commitment. Over the past year, Gene and Ruth have helped Woody grow in confidence, and he is now thriving in his new home.
Gene says: “We have faced many challenges, but thankfully we have been in a position where we could put a lot of time into building a relationship with Mr Woods.
“Although he has his moments, which do make us laugh and smile, we would not be without him as he is a member of our family.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of caring for Mr Woods has been how settled he has become and how he responds to his daily routine.
Ruth adds: “It has been very gratifying to see his behaviour change from nervous to calm, from scared to confident, and from not wanting to be touched to approaching us to be groomed.
“Mr Woods looks forward to seeing us every day and greets us with an enthusiastic bray.”
Our Guardian Homes are an incredibly important asset to The Donkey Sanctuary.
Some of the most experienced homes can provide one-to-one care for equines that require close attention to help them gain confidence and build trust.
Jenna says: “Being able to place Woody in this safe and nurturing environment allows us to free up space for donkeys and mules who are in desperate need of sanctuary.
“Gene and Ruth have our heartfelt thanks, and we hope they continue to enjoy caring for Woody for the foreseeable future.”