Newsletter Autumn 2001

There is no need to remind anyone of the problems of Foot and Mouth which kept the countryside closed for the Spring and early Summer this year but thankfully our visitors returned with enthusiasm once we were able to open the gates again in June and added to the spirit of a very busy summer.

Tessa with her sore knee


Our resident four leggeds have all had a good summer with the possible exception of Tessa who hurt a front leg late in September. It was her mate, Benny, who alerted us to a problem when he came to the gate braying, nagging and insisting someone followed him. On granting his wishes he went straight to where Tessa was lying with a nasty cut on the outside of her left knee joint. Benny stayed with her while wound dressings were fetched, nuzzling her and gently nibbling her neck. The leg was obviously extremely sore, so although Tessa was persuaded to get up she was reluctant to try and walk down to the yard and stable where she could be treated properly. No amount of pushing, pulling and gently persuading was having any effect but Benny sussed out the situation, moved in behind Tessa and nipped her bum and heels to get her hopping then stayed behind her administering the occasional timely nudge until she was safely down in the yard! Once satisfied she was in good hands he cleared off back up the field to his mates but that evening ,and several evenings afterwards, he arrived back down to spend the night with his little friend. Tessa is recovering but slowly. The wound was deep and heavily infected so required regular cleaning and dressing alongside two courses of strong antibiotics. X-rays show there is no obvious damage to the bone but it may be painful for some time to come. Our thanks go to Evi for her excellent veterinary care.

Much of Tessa's nursing fell to Emma who generously spent her holidays Sanctuary-sitting to give us a week's break before the winter. Emma is manager of one the farms for The Donkey Sanctuary UK where she is responsible for over 400 donkeys and 8 staff. By comparison looking after this Sanctuary was child's play but it says much for her character and dedication that she swopped a life of working with donkeys for a holiday working with more donkeys! We owe you a big 'thank you' Emma.


Followers of the Donkey Sanctuary, Ireland will have read about Joxer. Joxer was found wandering loose on the road by the Gardai who reported him to the Sligo SPCA and hence to ourselves. His misinformed owner had tried to cure a heavy lice infestation by pouring diesel and tar over his back which had, not surprisingly, severely burned the skin. A secondary infection resulted in him being very sore indeed. Fortunately the Gardai found the owner who was happy to relinquish the little fellow into care. As Joxer was a young (12 year old) stallion he was too active to risk bringing here with all the elderly mares, so we asked Chris, voluntary welfare officer for The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland to intervene.

Joxer was in perfect hands. Chris and his wife, Helen, run boarding kennels and recoursed to one of their very expensive anti-bacterial dog shampoos to remove the gunge that was encrusted on his back. £25 worth to be exact! Once cleaned up, his sores treated and his overlong hooves properly trimmed, Joxer was transferred to the main Sanctuary at Cork where he is recovering well.



Two older stallions were relinquished to the Sai Sanctuary throughout the summer. We had been caring for these donkeys in the wings for several years as their owner was a sick mani himself and often unable to look after the donkeys properly. When he finally went into hospital we were pleased to take them into permanent care. One of the donkeys is possibly too old to geld so we are currently searching for an appropriate foster home where they can stay together. Although most stallions are gentle and friendly they do require excellent fencing to keep them at home when interesting ladies are nearby.


A third stallion, Bob, came to us through a sad Sligo SPCA case which necessitated the rehoming of several animals and fowl. Fortunately this fellow, though elderly, is in good health apart from the inevitable neglected hooves which had broken off very short and split vertically. Despite coming out of appalling conditions his spirit remains intact as he demonstrated on meeting his new friends Lob and Nob, a pair of much younger stallions in a permanent foster home. The resulting cacophony of brays must have been heard for miles around as the donkeys sniffed and snorted, pawed the ground and flicked some well aimed buck-kicks in the air. Once the showing off subsided Bob set about exploring his new home and very quickly gave his seal of approval in the time honoured way.


Shelley joined us on Saturday 13th October from Curry. She owes her relocation to modern technology as her owner's family found the Sai Sanctuary on the web and rang up to see if we would be able to take her! (Thanks again to Martin for all his work setting up the site). Shelley is an exceptionally gentle old mare who has spent her life with the one family, working and carting for them over the years. She was dearly loved but since the death of her owner, the lady of the family was unable to look after her properly and feared for her welfare during the winter. Shelley's main problem, as usual, was her hooves, which through lack of a skilled farrier had not been trimmed for some considerable time and were grossly overgrown and distorted, to say nothing of being painful. On arrival she made straight for the sand pit which was cool and soft to her sore feet and refused to budge from that spot come rain or hail. An emergency call to our long suffering farrier brought him to her aid immediately and the pictures tell their own story. After trimming poor Shelley was lost without her "snowshoes" but within the hour she adjusted to her new designer hooves and is now able to compete with donkeys half her age.


On Sunday, August 12th The Sai Sanctuary, in conjunction with the Sligo SPCA hosted the Crazy about Creatures Sponsored Walk on Streedagh beach near Grange. This event was organised by Antjie from Galway, who gave an enormous amount of time, energy and expertise into organising, publicising and following through, not just on the day but afterwards when she took on the task of compiling an information database, writing thank you letters etc. It was a huge job and both charities are immensely grateful to Antjie for her infectious enthusiasm and hard work.

The day was a deluge, yet in spite of gales and torrential rain a good sized crowd of hardy campaigners, some with their equally hardy dogs, turned out to walk the 12 km and earn a commendable £1,400 to be shared equally between the two charities. We were delighted - and very grateful to everyone who helped to make the sun shine for a few more donkeys. Antjie hopes to be available to help us repeat the occasion next year but in view of this year's August weather we are going to opt for May!

The new sand area at the north end of the hayshed
The new sand area at the north end of the hayshed


The Sanctuary received two other large donations this summer, one of £1,000 from faithful donkey devotee Toni Spear and the other of just over £1,000 which was raised in a pub whip-round in Dublin and delivered personally by the pub's owner, Michael White. To receive such a combined lump sum is remarkable as most of our donations come in much smaller denominations which tend to disappear in day to day expenses almost before they see the bank. So it was special to be able to annexe this money, add it to the £700 from the Crazy about Creatures Walk and use it to build a small sand arena with direct access to the new wintering quarters. The 9m x 12m arena was dug out, levelled, filled with gravel, then a tough membrane was laid which allows water to soak through but keeps both gravel and growth from pushing up. Finally, a four inch layer of sand was added so the donkeys have their own playpit - and love it as they can dig and roll to their hearts' content.

The arena was built by Suresand of Drumfin and is fenced with heavy duty post and rail fencing with a small access gate at one end and a larger tractor gate at the other (for wheeling barrows of manure out to the manure pit). It was arranged so the older donkeys now have their own private access to a small paddock in the bottom field which is separate and safe from the ebullient antics of the more active gang. To complete the project a double fence with access gate was erected between this paddock and the remainder of the field which will be planted with a variety of trees and bushes for shelter and wildlife. Judging from the use given to the paddock area by Flynn, Meggie, Biccy and their cronies, the scheme has made a big hit.


The back gate entrance has been widened to 18ft to allow access to even the biggest load of hay or straw (or worst driver). Likewise the entrance over the cattle grid has been made more accessible by adding a 6 ft gate to one side which can be opened to allow larger vehicles to drive through and four legged people to walk through. Thanks go to our neighbours for their co-operation on this latter.

The hay barn has been repainted and last but certainly not least the new workshop building in the yard was completely stone faced with the old stone from the original building. This work was completed single-handed by Joost and looks absolutely splendid as well as providing an excellent facility from which improvements and repairs can be effected.

All we need now is a vocational person or couple to take the Sanctuary to heart with a view to perpetuating its future when I am too decrepit to carry on (there are days when this seems awfully close !) It is important the work continues, especially for the very elderly and otherwise non-viable animals who may even be excepted within the philosophy of some animal sanctuaries. Here we believe that any donkey, regardless of appearance, who is inherently happy and not in constant or extreme pain has the right to live in dignity and comfort until they decree otherwise.

donkey foal

One of our Christmas cards - Three Wise Men?


Early in the year we were offered summer grazing for four donkeys at Rosses Point, as companions to two other donkeys who had too much grass. Luke, Morestina, Josh and Tommi were elected to meet Scooby-Doo and Amy and after much initial showing off with heads and tails stuck out like banners and accompanying snorts and squeals of delight they all settled down to become one of the main tourist attractions of the area.

On July 12th a surprise awaited us. Amy had had a foal!! Although suspected it was still a lovely surprise especially as little Noddy is such a delightfully friendly and entertaining little chap. Dark brown, fluffy and with a gentle, affectionate nature he soon became the highlight of the neighbourhood. Thanks go to Redmond for the grazing and to May for the many cups of tea and cake she provided on our weekly check-up visits.

Thanks also go to Alec and Betty who offered grazing, which unfortunately we were unable to use at the time. There are many, many others who also deserve recognition for help and support throughout the year: Gerry and Eugenie for 20 bags of feedstuffs (over £100 worth) and for collecting monies in Japanese Yen, French Francs and American Dollars during their summer as tour guide operators, Yvonne and John Monaghan for apples, carrots etc from their market stall; monetary donations from both regular supporters and casual visitors - without your help the Sanctuary would cease to function.


Flynn's hooves were becoming a problem. Since his increased mobility he is reluctant to let the farrier trim his hooves when he is lying down, but because of his severely damaged front legs he is unable to stand on three legs long enough to trim the fourth. So it was decided the farrier should bring his own vet with him to sedate Flynn for a period sufficient to trim his feet properly, after which much can be done with regular rasping to keep them in shape. The 'operation' was a huge success. With his neat new front feet Flynn now regularly presents himself in the yard where he orchestrates a plaintive symphony of brays until extra food is delivered. Once replete he toddles off back to the haybarn for a luxurious sleep. These little forays on the hard surface of the road also help to keep his hooves in trim so all in all we hope to see Flynn enjoying life for a while yet.




We have three new card designs this year, two, "S'now good" (top left) and "Three wise men?" (above) with Christmas greetings and the third of Nellie emulating the famous 'Eeyore' which simply says "Wishing you peace, love and rainbows" (left). The cards sell at 70p each plus postage.

Which leaves us thanking every one of you for your continued support and wishing you peace, health and happiness for the season and the new year.

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