Volunteers Day At Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary May 2016
On Tuesday 10th May 2016 donkey sanctuary volunteers throughout the Country were invited to a day out at the Sidmouth Headquarters as a way of saying “thank you” to all the volunteers who give up their time to help in lots of different ways for this wonderful charity.
About 15 of us from the Ivybridge DAT (Donkey Assisted Therapy) Branch made our way up to Sidmouth (which is approximately an hours’ drive from Ivybridge). However there were about 100 volunteers from all over the Country who attended.
We had a drink on arrival and then saw the yard where the Simouth DAT donkeys were enjoying some free time. Included in this group is a wonderful little donkey called “Wonky”. Why that name I hear you ask, but dear little Wonky was born with a deformed bent ear. Naturally he is a big favourite with any adult or child that sees him.
We then went up to an area where donkeys were in training to become DAT centre donkeys and we are hoping that in the not too distant future we will be getting one of these donkeys at Ivybridge to replace dear old Pip, who was our oldest donkey (26 years of age) at Ivybridge and had been with us since 2007 when we opened. He was my favourite donkey and we went back a long way as I had worked with him even before he came to Ivybridge so he was very special to me.
Due to a problem with his teeth he unfortunately had to go back to Sidmouth to retire fully a few weeks ago, and I travelled up which was quite an emotional day. However, I did manage to find a little time on this day to go and see him to find that he was happy and contented with his new female friend Dora which was lovely. They only met a few weeks ago, but have become inseparable. If you continue reading I state that most donkeys have a best friend, but Pip was a bit of an exception, and although he had lots of friends at Ivybridge he didn’t have a very special friend, so after 26 years he finally has one, and she is female!!!. We have no female donkeys at Ivbridge, so he is making the most of female company in his old age!!! It was their last day in isolation as when donkeys move around from one centre to another they have to stay in isolation for a period of time before they can join a regular herd, so Pip and Dora should now be enjoying life on one of the farms in Sidmouth.
A new hospital are is currently in the process of being built but we were shown around the existing facilities and the state of the art equipment used to treat any donkey related health problems, including castration and also a dentistry section. We were shown the padded room where the donkeys are sedated first in readiness for any operations and the lifting equipment used to lift them up on to the operating table. There is also a waiting area for their buddy (most donkeys are part of a bonded pair and where one goes the other has to go too, so as neither of them get stressed). If a donkey has to go to the hospital area then their friend goes with them, which keeps them calm and the buddy waits in a special waiting area until the other one comes round. The care these donkeys get is unbelievable.
Next it was a barbeque lunch with a quiz to keep us occupied followed by talks and power point presentations by various members of the staff, which were very interesting. Included in one of these presentations was the advert about the little donkey who wanted to be a dray horse for Budwiser Beer. If you haven’t seen it please take a look here. Shows what determined little animals they are and I defy anyone not to have a lump in their throat after watching it.
After the talks we were treated to a tractor and trailer ride to the Poitou donkey area. Poitou’s are the largest breed of donkeys and originate from France and they really are shaggy gentle giants. My best description of them would be like highland cattle without the horns, but with huge ears but the same shaggy coats.
I fell in love with one called Guinness, and he just stood there all the time we were there his head over the fence soaking up all the pats and cuddles. It was a very humid day, so like me it appears that he was having a bad hair day, but he was still very handsome. It was a shame he was a bit too big to fit into the car!!!
The day ended with tea, coffee and cake and then said our goodbyes and back down the road to Ivybridge, having spent a very enjoyable day.