Early last week, during the night and on his own terms, Earl Grey died. This singular donkey had been living at the DSC for twenty years. For most of that time he was a solitary creature, disinclined to frolic with the other equines, more apt to be seen grazing by himself in the fields, always a little apart from the main herd. ( After many years here, though, Earl did befriend Donkeschoen, a jennet of the same age, and he was her loyal companion until her untimely death in 2014.)
I remember as if it were yesterday, the cloud-covered dawn when Earl Grey arrived at the Sanctuary after having been rescued from an equine auction in Central Ontario. He was in a miserable state, clearly unsettled by the chaos of the auction environment and by the lengthy transport that followed. His solemn hooded eyes, matted coat and mangled hooves evoked the neglect that had marked his previous living conditions.
As I look back, I am reminded that at the time of Earl’s arrival, we were still very inexperienced in animal care and rescue. We had the desire, the enthusiasm, but our hands-on knowledge was limited. In some ways, Earl Grey was a test case for us: we were very much learning as we were giving him remedial care. In the weeks that followed, as his condition improved gradually, we were relieved that our efforts were meeting with success.
Twenty years is a long time and I am proud to relate we have become much more capable and experienced with the intricacies of donkey treatment and care. And while we have been learning, Earl Grey has always been nearby. His was a gentle, quiet presence, supportive and dependable. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Sandra Pady, Founder