Newsletter Autumn 1998
Beth was the first little person to join us this summer, arriving on April 1st, but believe me this was no April Fool. Beth had been purchased by a sympathiser at a local horse fair, because he felt sorry for her, in the hopes he could sell her on to a good home. Fortunately the first couple to go and look at her put us in touch. A whip round reimbursed the current owner and Beth was collected immediately and brought into our donkey version of intensive care.
She is a small, dark brown mare of around 28 years who has, at some time, been severely abused. Our farrier soon confirmed that chronic laminitis and general neglect of her hooves has caused the bones to drop. In one front hoof the pedal bone is dangerously close to piercing the sole. With expert farriership and padded bandages when the ground is hard, that day will be delayed for as long as possible for if ever there was a grateful little donkey, it is Beth, soft and gentle in every way.
She was so heavily infested with lice her skin was raw over her neck, shoulders and ribs. Gradually she lost the remainder of her coat until she was almost completely naked, and, to our horror, revealed a crisscrossing of lash type scars over her lower back and rump. It is too painful to imagine what may have been her burden, when with hooves too painful to walk, she was beaten into submission.
It is due to the goodness of people like yourself that we can guarantee Beth's remaining years will be spent in comfort and care. She has gained weight now and no longer falls over when she tries to walk. She can hold her own well with all but the very bossy donkeys and is obviously a happy girl. She seems to have made a special friend in Amos who arrived on the 25th April.
Amos was walked up to the Sanctuary from a neighbouring farm and handed into our care. He is a huge, pale grey, raw boned donkey who arrived severely underweight and with the usual neglected hooves. As with Beth he was heavily infested with lice and it took several treatments to clean him up. Unlike Beth he was having no part of scissors, grooming, or any of your old fuss, even proving difficult with the farrier who was initially uncertain if he could save one of the back hooves. He did, of course, with an almighty struggle from Himself! To this day Amos looks a real tat-bag as despite surreptitious snips with the scissors and swipes with the grooming brushes, he still adamantly refuses to be properly groomed. But he's happy and that's what counts. Very affectionate at the head end and cantankerous at the rear, he has become the 'character' of the Sanctuary and will be severely missed, when for their own sakes, he and Beth will be transferred to the 'Golden Oldies' section of The Donkey Sanctuary, Liscarroll, Co, Cork where they will winter in a big airy barn with deep straw under them, veterinary care on hand and plenty of food and companionship.
Amos and Beth - golden oldies.
Parting of the ways
There is always heartbreak involved in parting with donkeys for whom one has cared, sometimes for several years, even to such a safe home as Liscarroll. Such is the case with Susie. who's hoof problems will benefit from daily farrier attention, to say nothing of deep litter bedding in Liscarroll's 'geriatric' barns. And as Susie's two special friends are Jilly and Biddy, it was decided they should not be parted from each others' companionship. Biddy, of course, is deeply attached to her filly foal Star.... and so it goes on, until eventually we decided it was best to send the entire group. Star will miss some of her younger friends, but being only three years old and gregarious she will soon make new friends. Amos and Beth, Ziggy and Eli will complete the numbers. All will be sadly missed but we know that they will have the very best of attention at all times and enjoy a kinder winter climate in Co, Cork than they would here on the mountain.
Ziggy was next to arrive early in May, voluntarily relinquished by her owner who realised that she had advanced laminitis and needed urgent special care. It is now understood that it is the sugar in fresh spring and summer grass that causes laminitis, as it destroys the natural bacteria within the hoof. The result is an agonising condition which most often affects the two front feet but can affect all feet, as in Ziggy's case. After several days of severely restricted diet and homoeopathic and veterinary care she began to respond and what was a very touch and go situation had a happy ending. Unfortunately her feet are permanently damaged and she will require careful attention to prevent a recurrence. She is a tiny, pale grey mare around thirty years old, with a pretty sticky-up mane and the loudest bray for her size you could ever imagine! Her owner visits her when possible and is delighted to see her looking so well and happy with all her new friends. It is worth noting here that laminitis can be caused by any stress situation including starvation, overweight, loading and travelling, bullying and loneliness as well as the more usually accepted cause of too much rich food.
When our farrier saw Eli's hooves he said 'Every time I leave here I think I've just trimmed the worst donkey's hooves I've ever seen. Then you call me back and there's an even worse one!' A beautiful, affectionate, long haired gelding of around 30 years old, Eli holds the current record for deformed hooves. Apparently abandoned in a field not far from Sligo, the condition of his feet precipitated a call to the Sligo SPCA who involved The Sanctuary. With the help of the Sligo Gardai who have the powers of seizure, Eli was handed over to us. As you can see from the photographs his hooves were distressingly overgrown and mis-shapen, to the extent that, with one hind hoof, our farrier, Chris Glossop, was truly perplexed. It was impossible to see where the original hoof was! Fortunately Eli was patient as Chris painstakingly trimmed away the hoof, little by little until he found the heel.... half way up the inside of the leg. The insides of the hooves were full of dried blood, old abscesses and even a maggot or two! Amazingly, Eli was never unable to walk and even through his period of painful readjustment where he literally had to learn to walk on different feet, stretch shortened ligaments and contract others, he never complained. Initially he lay down a great deal and was often found with Amos, Beth and Ziggy, presumably comparing notes about their new home. He adores being groomed, allowing even the most stubborn knots and furballs to be unravelled or cut out, so is looking considerably smarter than his irascible friend Amos!
Eli with his freshly trimmed hooves
Josh and Tommi
These two young donkeys came for their summer holidays when their owners had to move to another country and were unable to take the donkeys with them, and often had us in tucks of laughter with their antics. Tommi is a shaggy coated yearling, a cross between a Yeti and an animated rug, and Josh is his big 'brother', all of four years old and knows everything - including how to shove the visitors around in search of attention! He is the proverbial naughty boy donkey but great fun. It is very enjoyable to look after young, healthy, happy donkeys even though the role of the Sanctuary is obviously to help those in need, and we thank Frauke and Simon for the generosity they showed to their two little charges when they were no longer able to keep them.
Thanks to the many concerned people who contact us when they see a donkey they think may be in distress, we have continued to network throughout the district to find farriers and vets for donkeys suffering from overgrown feet, lice infestation, midge sores etc. Another problem which seems to be on the increase is over tight head collars, It is dangerous to turn out a donkey wearing a halter or head collar unless you are checking the animal several times a day, as it is so easy for the collar to become caught in branches or on wire, with the result that the panicking donkey can injure itself. Animals should NEVER be turned out permanently wearing any kind of rope or harness, especially a young animal. We have seen several cases where the donkey/pony grows and the head collar doesn't, with painful and damaging results.
This nuisance problem was prevalent during the early months of this year when the weather was muggy and damp and midges were hanging under every bush in clouds. Two products have proved very useful in helping to combat the condition, the first a homoeopathic remedy developed by one of our leading homoeopathic vets Nick Munnings. It goes under the code AJRB/27891 and is available from Galens Homoeopathic Pharmacy, Lewell Mill, West Stafford, Dorchester, England OT28 8AN. Tel: 0044 1305 236996 or Fax: 0044 1305 250792. This product is available in tablet form and is best started early in March/April to prevent initial onset.
The second product is a spray called Front Line, which was originally developed for cats and dogs against fleas and ticks but has since been found to be helpful against sweet itch. It is available from most veterinary pharmacies.
For general prevention of fly strike there is an excellent tea tree oil spray in a range of new products recently brought in from Australia and available from Fred Molloy, Farrier, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Tommi & Ashtar
After a very busy summer September saw the Sanctuary with 22 donkeys in care and the task of reducing numbers to around a dozen for winter care as we have insufficient housing for more than 14 maximum. So it was with mixed feelings we received an urgent phone call from donkey lovers who's old donkey had died suddenly, leaving the younger one pining, miserable and depressed. Something had to be done immediately. The bereaved donkey was a small brown mare, very quiet and shy, so we shipped our much loved Misty over to keep her company and see how it worked out. Both donkeys are delighted with the arrangement and we are happy that Misty has found such a loving home in idyllic surroundings, even though she was on our adoption list with no plans for rehoming. I hope those of you who have sponsored Misty over the year will not begrudge her her new found status and will not mind selecting another donkey friend to help for the remainder of your sponsorship period. New certificates can be provided, of course.
Then we had another call from a couple much nearer to home who had acquired a donkey mare on the understanding that she was in foal, and had subsequently discovered that she was not. With the expectation dashed of her having her foal for company they, too, were desperate for a companion. Neddy Flat Tyres was the only available donkey without a special friend so he was given the chance to see if he enjoyed being part of a smaller family unit with every opportunity to apply his skills towards being spoiled rotten. He is an affectionate, intelligent donkey, fond of his tummy and who loves human company, a great character but gentle and caring towards his new companion, Peggy. It Seems Cupid has struck another bullseye as Neddy and Peggy have become best friends.
A stock of white, short sleeved T-shirts, bearing the Santuary's logo on the left shoulder, were kindly donated by Mike Carey, 5 The Square, Darley Abbey, Derby, DE22 3DN, UK. Mike has offered to dispatch orders direct from his address at £10 per shirt, including postage, donating the entire profits to the Sanctuary. A very generous offer indeed and one which is deeply appreciated.
Long sleeved navy-blue T-shirts bearing the Martin Byrne's woodcut design are available direct from The Sathya Sai Sanctuary, Castlebaldwin, Co, Sligo, Eire, at £12 each including postage within Ireland and UK. For the Continent please add £1.00 extra per item; elsewhere in the world please add £2.00 per item extra.
These are available from the Sanctuary at 40p each (packs of ten £4.00), and locally from Tir Na Nog, Sligo. They feature Biddy, Star and Jilly 'having a meeting' and goodness knows who they are discussing!
On this seasonal note we wish you a peaceful, healthy winter and thank you all, as always, for the very special support you have given to the Sanctuary throughout the year. Particular thanks to Gwen Pearce for a spectacular collection of knitted and hand sewn toys, made by herself and donated to raise funds for the animals; and to Jill Tritton for her donation of magnificent hand painted silk scarves; and to Penny Litsz for her beautifully crafted patchwork bedspread. These items will be sold nearer to Christmas. Many of you have given generously of both time and money to say nothing of moral encouragement.