Day 14- Nuzzle a donkey

It’s day 15: I’m half way through! Thanks so much if you’ve been following the blog and hopefully you’ve found some inspiration to make some small changes for a more positive month. After talking wet-wipes and urging you to vent your grievances and moan at people, I’ve a nice one for you today. Should you need cheering up on this mizzly morning, and who can forget, it’s Wednesday, therefore ‘hump day’, have a quick look at this little guy:

Who doesn’t love a good donkey? Well, apparently lots of people which is why they are so poorly treated throughout the world. They are worked to death in Nepal, bred for medicines in China, and forced to carry over-weight tourists uphill in Santorini in Greece. I talked to the lovely Janet Hume at The Donkey Sanctuary in Templepatrick on Sunday and she gave me a few facts about donkeys.

  1. Donkeys and mules are often said to be stubborn. This is nonsense- lies perpetuated by donkey dissenters everywhere. They are actually extremely clever and excellent risk-assessors, hence they think carefully before springing into action, as they don’t want to hurt themselves. (Maybe we all should ‘Be More Donkey’, especially my children who are always clattering off things.)
  2. The average age of a donkey is 25-30. My pal David, down at Belfast 89 has a pet donkey who is 45 years old! That must be one well-looked after creature.
  3. Donkey’s hooves and coat are not waterproof. At the Donkey Sanctuary, their hooves and eyes are cleaned every day, and they make sure they don’t get soaked as they take ages to try when wet. Poor wee pets. They should therefore always have a place to shelter, or at least wear a coat.
  4. They can also get sunburnt. Janet told us that Ledger, a piebald breed, wears a reflective coat in the summer months, and staff put Factor 50 on his ears everyday, before he heads out and about in the paddock.
  5. Donkeys grieve. I thought my poor husband was going to break down when Janet told this story. Donkeys form strong attachments to other donkeys, and they usually hang out in a pair. Should one of the pair die, (choke, sob) it’s best to let the donkey stay with them, so they can process that their friend has passed and won’t be getting back up again. This helps them process the loss. (What is wrong with me? This is supposed to be a chirpy post!)
  6. Donkeys are extremely good with children. Somehow, people have the notion that donkeys are grumpy. This is not the case, and children with autism find spending time with donkeys to be extremely therapeutic. At the Donkey Sanctuary, children have the opportunity to connect with donkeys in a safe space, because of their ‘zen-ness’


We had a lovely time at Templepatrick. It was heartwarming to see how pleased the donkeys were to see us, and our kids played happily in the little park and enjoyed stroking the donkeys’ velvet noses. Stevey seemed to bond especially well with Archie, who gave him a good nuzzle. He’s mad about the animals, my husband. It’s a bit like being married to St Francis of Assisi, except he’s agnostic and I imagine drinks more.

I bought some Christmas presents in the shop, (the kids went berserk, picking up Donkey related items for their little chums, ah feck it, I thought, it’s a charity). Then we had a cup of tea, basking in the glow of happy donkeys and contented children. Make it your ‘Do One Thing’ to check visit this place (ring first or check their website). It will warm your heart nicely of a weekend