Since the dramatic rescue in Colleferro, Italy, at the beginning of the year, our Italian Sanctuary Il Rifugio degli Asinelli has been working hard to bring their new arrivals back to health and used to being around humans. The rescued donkeys and mules had been left to fend for themselves without food or shelter but have received months of expert care to train them in being handled so that they can settle in to Sanctuary life and receive the veterinary checks, farrier care and dental treatments that they need.
On a recent visit to Il Rifugio degli Asinelli, Isobel Nash was given a very special task by Lil, who is an expert in mule behaviour training at Town Barton Farm...
When I was asked by Lil, one of our specialist Mule Grooms from Town Barton to deliver a special parcel to a mule called Giuliano on my recent visit to our Italian Sanctuary, Il Rifugio degli Asinelli, of course I said yes! It was such a lovely gesture which resulted from the special bond Lil had developed with Guiliano when she helped with his behaviour training in October.
I was really excited to meet the mules after all the blog updates from the staff that have been working with them since their rescue in Colleferro earlier this year. Bico was the first to come up to the gate and say hello followed closely by Giuliano, in the heaviest rain, we all looked like the proverbial drowned rats!
Lil said “All the mules at Il Refugio Degli Asinelli will always be in my heart. I had an amazing two weeks there, and had such a close bond with them all, particularly with Giuliano. Marianna has done amazingly well, especially with Giuliano who has now been weighed for the first time. I decided that as it is Christmas, I would buy them a special gift which they could use while working together, that will always remind them of the wonderful time we all had during my visit”.
Marianna, who you may remember is one of Giuliano's grooms in Italy, had spent two weeks in the UK working alongside Lil at Town Barton Farm, learning about how to handle some of the 150 mules they now have there. Lil was Marianna's mentor then spent two weeks over in Italy helping transfer those skills to the mules and both ladies have kept in touch. Marianna has shared her new knowledge with the rest of her team as mules are such clever animals and a lot of time and patience is needed.
Marianna was very excited when she heard there was a present for Giuliano and helped open his special parcel, a head collar, personalised gift tag and some polos! Giuliano was such a star he stood patiently allowing Marianna to put this on him before proudly posing for photos in his smart new head collar. It was a special moment seeing the trust he is learning from humans again after all the horrific conditions he faced earlier in the year, when he was rescued in Colleferro during one of our biggest rescue cases of the year.
Giuliano will be a special mule to me too as I don't often get to work closely with mules but spending time with him settled me too as he was happy and trusted me to be in his space and was even content to have a little cuddle too. Thanks Lil, Marianna and Giuliano for letting me share your special story.