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.
My next meeting with Eclipse and Comet was this week when I had the privilege of introducing them to their wonderful new home. Guardians Marie and Michael Kealy have worked tirelessly to learn about donkey care and ready their home for the new arrivals. Their last few weekends have been spent building a fantastic cosy shelter complete with safely installed Christmas lights! Their very excited three year old son, John, has been practicing for their arrival and does a very convincing ''hee haw''!
Although we do not provide donkeys as Christmas presents, in this particular circumstance the Kealy family had finished their preparations and had time off work to help settle the donkeys in to their new home. There is however something particularly poignant about a home coming at this time of year. I can't quite find the words to do justice to the feeling I had watching this wonderful family, smiles beaming, as they watched their new family pets take their first tentative steps down the ramp and take in the surroundings of their beautiful new home.
What a wonderful example of what it is we strive for at The Donkey Sanctuary; rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming. How lucky I am to have been present at the beginning of the process and witness the happy ending as it came full circle. The stars certainly seemed to have aligned perfectly for Eclipse and Comet to make it home for Christmas and as I turned to leave I could see them grazing peacefully against the backdrop of the mountains as twilight fell, the fairy lights on their warm shelter twinkling softly, their new guardians watching over them, my Christmas was well and truly made too.