In our constant quest to rehome donkeys we must never lose sight of why we do it. Last week was a wonderful reminder of just how beneficial our Rehoming Scheme is to both our donkeys and our fantastic Guardians who dedicate themselves to the animals in their care. Jack and Jerry have had sarcoid trouble in the past and when we spotted the return of some growths on both donkeys we decided to transport them from their idyllic abode in the Dublin Mountains to the veterinary hospital for treatment.
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We are saddened to hear about Moses passing away this week in Hannigan's farm, he has been a true favourite through the years. Moses came to The Donkey Sanctuary in June 2001 as a 14 year old gelding from a private home in Co Kilkenny, he had two permanent rope marks embedded on his neck indicating he was abused at some point in his life. His owner relinquished him to us as he felt he was dangerous to his cattle and to people.
Yara (meaning loved one) and five others found themselves in an equine pound in County Longford in May 2016 after being abandoned. Their hooves were extremely overgrown and distorted, resulting in severe pain each time they took a step.
Thankfully, the pound called us and told us about the plight of these poor donkeys. An immediate plan was put in place to bring them to safety and to help end their suffering.
Yara is a skewbald mare who was underweight and infested with lice and worms, with horrifically painful hooves. She is bonded to other donkeys Lyanna and Meera.
I have been working at The Donkey Sanctuary for a long time, twenty years plus, mainly at Knockardbane Farm where it all started from a leaking caravan and a few staff.
I can honestly say there never has been one day the same, every day comes with something different- be it happy or sad stories and endings. I recently got the task at short notice to arrange to move two of our donkeys across the water to their new home.
Sound travels considerable distance in the still of a summer Sunday afternoon. Massey, Forde, Ruffles, Rory, Ted and Ryan are listening to the sounds of cheering and groans coming from the open window of a house as the various expressions of emotions reveal Ireland’s progress during the Olympics. But these six boys are quite content to be missing the action.
'"He's a lovely donkey'' is not a phrase one expects to hear at the vetting gate of the Royal Dublin Society during horse show week. A reply of ''he's an even lovelier mule'' raised a few eyebrows swiftly followed by a raft of mule/hinny related questions from the vets. This seems to set the tone for the rest of the day as myself and the mule maestro Eugene Butler displayed Sanctuary mules Bohea Lad and Kendon on a showery Sunday at the prestigious venue.
What comes to people’s minds when they hear the word mule: stubborn, aggressive or even dangerous? Mules can be perceived as all of these things but it is in fact our perception and how we work with and respect these animals for what they are. When treated with kindness, patience and understanding they learn to trust and obey. If they are treated with force they are most likely not going to obey as they can sense danger. This is where people’s perception of mules as being aggressive comes into play. But it is a defence mechanism for them, to protect themselves.
Education is without doubt a key part of the answer to improving the lives of donkeys and mules in Ireland and running donkey care courses in new venues throughout Leinster is something high on the priority list. We have held successful courses in Wexford and Dublin in established guardian homes and at My Lovely Horse welfare organisation in Kildare. Courses have been well attended and the feedback has been positive and encouraging.