Saturday, 2 November 2013

Supporting The Donkey Sanctuary

If you have never been for a visit to The Donkey Sanctuary main headquarters in Sidmouth, Devon it's well worth a visit for a brilliant day out  and suitable for the whole family, including dogs.

Image from the Donkey Sanctuary Lady and Little Pippa

The Donkey Sanctuary Needs Your Help
For all you crafting bloggers out there, did you know you can help raise funds by knitting little donkeys that are sold in the shop and used to help with education in other countries? I'm afraid to say my attempts at knitting would produce something that looked like it has passed through a donkeys digestive system. However I know how clever you all are, so if you have any spare time and some wool it would be great to see your creations on a blog post.

Woolley image from the Donkey Sanctuary
You can check out the donkeys at Sidmouth anytime via the webcams, inside the barns and outside in the fields and paddocks. Any donkey that goes to the sanctuary remains with them for life.
Donkey Assisted Therapy
The Donkey Sanctuary currently has six specially designed Centres across the UK; these are based in Belfast, Birmingham, Ivybridge, Leeds, Manchester and Sidmouth. Each one has been set up to bring children together with donkeys and provide a fun, relaxed environment where they can benefit from donkey assisted therapy and interaction with animals. text from the Donkey Sanctuary
Dr Elizabeth Svendsen
Sarah from the beautiful blog Down By the Sea has also spoken about the Donkey Sanctuary and its founder Dr Elizabeth Svendsen, a wonderful and inspirational person who devoted her life to saving donkeys around the world.
image from the Donkey Sanctuary
Working Donkeys Around the World
all text below from the Donkey Sanctuary
Millions of the world’s poorest people rely on donkeys to keep them supplied with the basic necessities of life and enable them to earn enough money to support their families.
 Brick Kiln Donkeys Image by the Donkey Sanctuary
Whether these donkeys are collecting a household’s supply of clean water, transporting their owner’s farm produce to market, or enabling a family to earn a living in a brick kiln or on a building site, they are providing a vital service to people who can only afford to give them minimal food, shelter and medical care.
 Bangladesh Welfare Training Image by the Donkey Sanctuary
Donkeys are hardy creatures and well-adapted to life in hot climates and inhospitable environments, but in many ways their toughness works against them; their high pain threshold and stoical nature prevents many owners from noticing when their donkeys are sick or injured.
The Donkey Sanctuary works all over the world rescuing donkeys and educating the population on how to look after their donkeys. They teach better donkey care and working practices to owners and handlers. They also go into schools and local communities with educational programmes to change attitudes to donkeys and give their owners the knowledge and skills to look after them better (which is where the knitted donkeys come in handy).
Ethiopian veterinary supplies ready to be shipped image from the Donkey Sanctuary
Beach Donkeys
Did you know that the Donkey Sanctuary works with many of our UK beach donkey owners?
Jasmine at Weymouth image from the Donkey Sanctuary

An estimated 900 donkeys work the beaches every year. The Donkey Sanctuary offers advice, training and support to the owners and local councils, although not all take this wonderful opportunity.   The Donkey Sanctuary has a Code of Practice for Working Donkeys and every year owners of the working beach donkeys receive awards for the high standards of care they provide for their donkeys.
In 2011 Paignton Beach Donkeys won this award image from the Donkey Sanctuary
A Sad Story with a Happy Ending-Molly
All images and text below from the Donkey Sanctuary

Quiet and withdrawn, Molly was a very poorly donkey when we rescued her. Left in a muddy paddock with no shelter she had painful rain scald covering her back and ears and her skin was crawling with lice. But most distressing of all was the length of her hooves and the pain this caused her. Such was her discomfort that she sank to the concrete floor on arrival at The Donkey Sanctuary holding base in Northern Ireland.


Her carer, Welfare Officer, Jane Bruce told us: "Molly is making good progress and can now be turned out daily with her friends Pauline and Jill in the good weather to enjoy the sunshine. She trots out of her stable in the morning and has even kicked up her heels, which is amazing to see considering the chronic condition of her hooves when she first arrived. When there has been the odd rain shower she is normally the first to be found in the field shelter! Clever girl!"
Molly has had a number of farrier treatments and x-rays as well as her first dental treatment. She is now much more comfortable eating, and her coat is sleek and glossy.
A brilliant story from the Donkey Sanctuary-I'm sorry the first picture is so distressing, but I thought this was a great example of the work of the Donkey Sanctuary. It's hard to believe this is the same donkey. 
And finally.....a wonderful story about two rescued donkeys George and Keith, told by Jane Bruce Welfare Officer.
A Lesson in Friendship (all text and images from the Donkey Sanctuary)
The donkeys had been abandoned at the foothills of the Newry mountains and had been taken in by a local farmer. The farmer had allowed the donkeys to graze on his land for a few months but did not have the time or expertise to continue to manage them with the winter approaching and had asked for our assistance to remove them.
We were surprised to find two large, substantial donkeys running over a large area of hilly terrain with sheep. The donkeys had caught sight of us crossing the land and had shot out of sight snorting and trotting defiantly into the distance at our presence.
When the donkeys had been herded into a smaller field and we gently approached them in the unrelenting rain to catch them for loading. The first of the donkeys was a magnificently built black coloured donkey standing short of 13hh – it took five of us to manually load him into the trailer.
Soaked through, I turned round to view his companion. I noticed that this donkey was always standing with his near side facing me. What was he trying to tell me? Most equines are used to being handled from the left handside, nothing unusual there. He was trembling somewhat when we gently loaded him into the trailer with his companion. Both donkeys stood shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip in the trailer. Hmm... here were two strongly bonded donkeys, I wondered what their previous life had entailed.
It is easy to fall into the trap of pre-judging donkeys before spending time handling and assessing them. Here were two donkeys (stallions at that) that had been aloof and wayward when viewed in their previous abandoned situation. I had expected them to be feisty and somewhat of a handful when I went to handle them in a ‘stabled’ setting but my predictions couldn’t have been further from the truth. George, the bigger of the two, was a sweet gentle giant and Keith was a quiet unassuming donkey, standing in George’s shadow. They are a pure delight to work with. Sometimes we need to have the ability to look beyond our initial observations and assess each animal on its own merits. Lesson learnt!
The following morning I went to feed the donkeys and it was then that I saw Keith ‘look up’ and the light catch his off side eye and I knew instantly there was a problem. The eye was clouded over. I moved in closer to have another look. My worst fears were realised when I waved my hand over his eyes a few times and he did not blink – he was blind in his off side eye.

I checked his nearside eye and there appeared to be full vision in it. This was later confirmed that day by my vet who believed that Keith had suffered some trauma to his eye in his earlier days. In all other regards Keith was assessed as healthy.

All of the subtle signs were there for the reading – Keith’s favouritism for standing facing most situations nearside on, his obvious anxiousness at being loaded and his deep bond and friendship with George. George always stands at Keith’s nearside (his seeing side) and is never more than a few feet away from him. I believe that George intuitively aids Keith and is aware of his ‘limited’ condition. I have watched George stand and watch Keith in the field and walk over to where he is grazing for reassurance and guidance.

George is brilliant at looking after him. Wonderful, intuitive kind friends. They are amazing. I could watch them interacting for hours –These donkeys have taught me so much. They have an amazing bond and friendship that could in fact teach us all a lesson.

George and Keith
Well I hope you have enjoyed this post. A little different to my usual posts I know, but I love these animals and the work of the Donkey Sanctuary, so I hope you like the stories and images.
Brilliant sunshine here today but very windy. I'm off into Brixham later to take a walk around the shops and see if I can get a frame for Griffins sketch



  1. They obviously do some great work. Thanks for telling us about it.

    1. Thanks Amy, love my visits to the sanctuary. You can get married there now and I would have loved that.

  2. Cripes! I didn't know you could get a double-headed donk.

    We have them roaming wild in the forest here. gorgeous little things, very friendly.

    Sadly, my knitting is not up to donkeys (would that it were!). The sanctuary does great work, well done for publicising it :-)

    1. Ha ha CT, I didn't realise how that photo does look like a two headed donkey! Wish I could knit as I'd happily sit and watch some TV drink a little wine...and hopefully a Woolley would be produced.

  3. I think donkeys are adorable and I get very upset by how they're often treated. But I always love to read happy ending stories. The people who look after them and run sanctuaries for them (when money is often tight) are wonderful. You have some lovely photos of them here.

    1. Thanks Wendy, hopefully I'll get over to the sanctuary soon and get some of my own photos for next time.

  4. Wonderful post - They do some great work there. We visited The Sidmouth Sanctuary when we were on holiday in Dorset in the summer and it was a superb sanctuary. Some sad stories but nice to see the happy endings. I adopted a donkey from a local sanctuary for my son on his birthday. One of these days I'll find the time to go along and visit. A really worthy cause to support :)

    1. How lovely, I would have loved to keep a couple of donkeys and we did give it some serious thought when we were locating to Devon.

  5. The Donkey sanctuary has done so much to much to improve the lives of donkeys all around the world and is such a worthwhile cause. Thank you for making others aware of it and linking into my post too! We still have donkeys on the beach in Weymouth, their home is closeby and we often walk up that way to see them.
    Sarah x

    1. Hi Sarah, I feel a lot better about our beach donkeys now that I know many of the owners are working with the sanctuary.

  6. I've been meaning to visit the Donkey Sanctuary since we moved to Devon (Scotland was a close second). Lovely stories and a great post!

    1. Oh you must go before it gets too cold. Some wonderful walks around the fields too, and plenty of wildlife and the café is very nice. They have recently secured an environmental grant which will last for the next 10 years. They will be able to restore hedgerows, grasslands and a lot more, so visiting will be even better over the next few years.

  7. I am happy to have surfed into your blog this evening. I used to visit Brixham many times when I lived in Torbay between 1965 to 1975, and ten years before that when my family and I holidayed there every year before we eventually moved down to Devon after my Dad retired. So it has been a marvelous visit looking at all your wonderful photographs. I look forward to coming back.

    1. Hello Denise, thank your for visiting the blog and I'm delighted you have some good memories of Devon. Brixham is looking good after quite a lot of investment since the late 1980's when it was in decline. Lots of lovely people investing and working hard here and it's beginning to show at last.

  8. Oh! My favourite place!!! We found the Donkey Sanctuary on our honeymoon - 30yrs ago now! We have visited it every year since, so my boy's have grown up with at least one yearly trip!! I would love to do one of their 'Donkey Days' a whole day making a fuss of the 'Donks'!! Bliss!!! Thank you for the trip!

    1. How lovely to be visiting after all these years. I know I am very tempted by one of their Bray and Stay events. On 13th Dec they are having a candlelight evening and carol service which I think will be beautiful.

  9. I'm ashamed to say I've never been. OB is not interested so I've never managed to drag him there. I need to find a time when he's away with a friend so I can go on my own! Great post - thank you!

    1. It's a real joy to visit Em, you could do some nice sketches afterwards too!

  10. Lovely informative post :) I do love donkeys! I used to feed and clean up after a couple at a farm. They would come up behind me and nudge me before turning up the wheelbarrow full of their poo that I had carefully picked up!

    1. Thanks Lou. How lovely to have worked with donkeys, such characters too. Doesn't it just show that they have a sense of fun and playfulness...not dumb animals at all.


Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment.