This week saw the culmination of several months’ hard work between staff and patients at Dundrum mental hospital and our welfare team, with the arrival of guardian donkeys Fergus and Foley in their new home.
Nestled in the heart of Dundrum village, the hospital stands on 30 acres of mature grounds that include gardens, poly tunnels, animal enclosures and paddocks. Staff member Jacqui Cahill began introducing animal care to the rehabilitation of patients staying on site. What started as Jacqui bringing her own dog in to meet those interested in animals has now developed into a diverse and interesting mix of animal husbandry and gardening which according to the residents I spoke to during my visits, is a valuable part of their lives. With the successful introduction of hens, ducks, rabbits, reptiles and bees, Jacqui felt that the hospital was ready to consider larger animals and contacted The Donkey Sanctuary to learn more about the requirements of caring for donkeys. Jacqui travelled, along with her colleague Pat, to our very successful donkey care course at the home of Stephen and Fiona Lambert in Wicklow. By the end of the course Jacqui was confident that rehoming two donkeys would be a positive step forward in the development of the animal care program at the hospital.
On Tuesday Eugene and I delivered Fergus and Foley to Dundrum and were delighted to see them settle in and meet the small crowd of very excited people who had been eagerly awaiting their arrival. The donkeys were beautifully turned out and behaved impeccably as they settled into their purpose built new home. The shelter, fencing and hard standing were all built and installed by Jacqui and the team at Dundrum, it is clear that Fergus and Foley will want for nothing here.
We plan to allow the ‘boys’ some time to adjust to both their new surroundings and new handlers. Work will then begin to gradually introduce them into the rehabilitation program for patients. It is always a rewarding feeling to know that the donkeys that we work so hard to rescue and rehabilitate have found wonderful new homes but there is something even more special knowing that what were once two unloved, neglected creatures will now play a significant part in enhancing the lives of the people at the hospital.
Following on from the placement of Fergus and Foley we received the following feedback from Jacqui Cahill who runs the animal project for the resident at the hospital:
‘’The introduction of Fergus and Foley to the project here in the CMH has really enhanced the therapeutic value of the animal assisted activities that we provide. None more evident than the positive feedback which we receive from our client group. Be it from a simple walk to the paddock to say hello to the day to day care of the donkeys that is incorporated into each individual’s activity schedules. Common themes that transpired from the feedback were increased self-confidence/ self-esteem, satisfaction in being able to provide care for an animal who has experienced neglect, an amazement and enjoyment at how sociable and affectionate that these animals can be following their experiences of miss treatment.’’
We are delighted with the outcome in this instance and the positive benefits that two of our
rescued donkeys have brought to the lives of the residents at the hospital.