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The Donkey Sanctuary welfare team provide donkey care courses throughout Ireland catering for all abilities, levels of knowledge and interest. On Saturday past eleven enthusiastic individuals gathered in my kitchen to learn more about the wonderful world of donkeys! It became clear to me that there were four distinct groups present:
Group 1 – exuberantly enthusiast persons, keen on learning more about donkeys but had never cared for an animal bigger than a Labrador dog.
On Sunday night last I got a phone-call about a slot that had opened up on the RTÉ Today Show on Monday evening. I spoke at length with Denise the researcher and we got the ball rolling! Denise wanted a donkey to come to the studio but after explaining that donkeys require companionship she quickly agreed that two donkeys would be more suitable and we knew the two girls that would be right for the job- Molly and Ginny.
I first met Comet and Eclipse in July 2015, two stunning skewbald donkeys, mother and daughter. Although their elderly owner cared about them, he could no longer care for them and contacted The Donkey Sanctuary for help rehoming his donkeys. They made the long journey from Meath to Cork where they received much needed attention to their hooves, teeth and other routine treatments. Although gentle and friendly, both mares were nervous and had received only limited handling. It would take some time to return both to full health and build their trust in people.
Daisy and Derrin came into the Sanctuary’s care in April of this year as the result of their owner passing away. The gentleman’s widow sadly was not able to cope with managing the donkeys as she herself was in her mid 70’s and found looking after them on a daily basis too demanding.
Daisy and her daughter Derrin proved to be very kind donkeys and as we worked with both ‘girls’ over the summer their lovely personalities and confidence shone through.
One of the aims of The Donkey Sanctuary is to spread the word about how best to care for donkeys far and wide, we officially do so more than once a month in the form of our Donkey Care Courses. After completing the course you will receive a certificate to prove your attendance and your donkey knowledge. We have so many different groups coming from all over the country from private donkey owners, donkey lovers, potential donkey guardians, work experience students, new staff, the list is end-list.
Not to be outdone by our own Donkey Welfare Adviser team that attend equine fairs for The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, I made the journey all the way to Barabanki close to the India-Nepal border! An annual extravaganza over one week long with some 5500 horses, mules and donkeys walked or trucked from surrounding areas to be traded: onward as store animals (an investment) or put straight to work as pack or riding animals in the fields, on the roads, building sites and in the brick kilns of India and Nepal.
The Donkey Sanctuary India (DSI) oversees the welfare of some 1500 donkeys working on building sites in Delhi and surrounding neighbourhoods. I visited one such site in Gurgaon on October 18 in the company of DSI veterinarian Dr Surajit Nath. These animals work five to six hours per day labouring to move loads of gravel, sand and cement from heaps placed in the broiling sun into the shaded interior where plasterers await fresh building materials.