It happened in February, 1995, when this group of three people attended an equine auction in rural Ontario. There were horses of all sizes and colours in pens inside an enormous barn and as our friends walked around, they spotted a grey Standard donkey standing forlornly in a corner. His hooves were so dramatically overgrown that he could barely stand. As they watched, he sank to the ground in obvious pain. They called over an official to express their concern but were told that the animal would be put into auction in spite of his condition because the owner wanted the highest price available.
The auction began and about half way through the number of animals being sold, the donkey was half-carried by two handlers into the ring. Our friends recognized the first bidder who was a representative of a slaughter house and so, with that fate in mind, these caring people entered a higher bid. The auction ended and the donkey was their responsibility. Within minutes a call was put in to the DSC and we were able to comply with their request for admission. By the time a trailer had been borrowed and the long drive had ended, it was just before sunup on a foggy day that the donkey, whom they had named Earl Grey, was transported to the Sanctuary.
Nineteen years have passed since that gloomy morning and Earl Grey has lived at the Sanctuary ever since. He has always been a very unassuming, gentle donkey, most inclined to stand apart and observe. Now that he is almost thirty, though, older age has brought a greater relaxation to his demeanor. These days, he lives in the barnyard with the other oldies and his medications include a low dose aspirin-like substance to help with stiffness due to arthritis. In addition, he is given daily doses of Vitamin E to further assist his mobility.
I was just down in the barnyard a few minutes ago with Earl and, since it is an Open Day, there were several people patting him as he nibbled grass in the Learning Centre paddock. To my eyes, he could not have been more relaxed. His coat is wonderfully shiny these days and his body condition is very good.
Here’s to you, Earl Grey, and the toast is being made with a cup of tea!
Sandra Pady, Founder