Topper was left heartbroken after losing his best friend. Find out how we helped to mend his broken heart.
Topper, a fourteen-year-old Poitou – one of the largest donkey breeds – lived with his companion Amber and their owner, Sarah-Jane Newton, in Wiltshire. Unfortunately, Vets needed to put Amber to sleep after she succumbed to cancer, leaving Topper alone and pining for his best friend.
Sarah says: "Topper was clearly in distress at being on his own, and I was extremely concerned for his welfare, even to the extent that the whole family slept out in the garden summerhouse right next to his stable, to keep him company at night."
At around the same time, a donkey named Dolly had been brought back into our care after a previous rehoming had not worked out. She had lived with two other donkeys, but unfortunately, had not bonded with them, and everyone felt that it was in her best interests to find her alternative companionship.
Donkey Welfare Adviser Justine Thomas could see that Dolly was unhappy and believed that someone out there could provide her with the love and attention she deserved.
After hearing about Topper's plight from Sarah, Justine worked with the rest of the team, particularly New Arrivals Manager Sara Blair-Salter and Senior Veterinary Surgeon Alex Thiemann, and made arrangements to introduce Dolly to Topper at his home near Marlborough.
Justine knew that Sarah, who is vastly experienced and knowledgeable in donkey care, would help Dolly settle in.
Measuring an average of 14.2 hands high (142-152 cm), Poitous are distinctive for their size and long shaggy coats. Although a regular breed of donkey, 14-year-old Dolly is remarkably tall, matching Topper's stature perfectly.
Justine Thomas, Donkey Welfare Adviser at The Donkey Sanctuary, says: "Donkeys form strong and long-lasting friendships and much prefer the company of their own kind, so it was very important that we found Topper a new donkey companion. Dolly turned out to be the perfect partner."
Reflecting on the move, Sarah says: "The Donkey Sanctuary was amazing. Justine and the team pulled out all the stops, and Dolly soon arrived. Topper was beside himself with happiness when he saw her. Although Dolly needed some time to settle in and get used to her new environment, they both desperately needed a best friend and bonded almost immediately."
Sarah-Jane added: "They are inseparable now, and it has been wonderful to watch their relationship blossom. Dolly is a wonderful donkey with a huge personality; they are the perfect match for one another."
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