Back in 1991, a year before the DSC was established, I took in a motley group of donkeys who were in desperate need of a home. In physical terms they were very different from one another and as they walked down the ramp of the trailer I couldn’t help remarking upon a dark brown, Mammoth jennet with the most beautiful, enormous ears. The hair on her body was as lustrous as velvet and so that became her name. Trailing behind Velvet was her equally dark-coloured foal, just a few months old. We called him Panne, after the same-named fabric that is a variety of velvet.
Pane grew steadily over that year and the next and before we knew it, he was 60″ at the withers. In appearance, he developed into an elegant, imposing donkey, but his capacity for getting into predicaments countered any first impressions of staidness. There were many cuts and scrapes to his body over the years because Panne was curious and particularly drawn to the greener grass on the other side of a fence.
In those early years of the DSC’s operations our modest income meant that we had to ‘make do’ with things and one of those areas was with regard to fencing. There were split rail fences everywhere, charming to look at but weak in spots and easily breeched by a donkey of Panne’s size. We never forgot the telephone call from a neighbour over on Sideroad 20 who had been quietly watching television until he heard a thumping sound and turned to see Panne’s nose pressed against the window. We had no sooner replaced the section of fence through which he had pushed when Panne was found nibbling on the tree seedlings in a next door field. The strong oak fencing that runs through the property today was built in great part to ensure that this roaming donkey stayed at home.
Panne’s most memorable escapade, though, happened one summer afternoon, when he was about 10 years old, right inside our old barn. Most of the donkeys had ambled out to graze and we guessed that Panne had been dozing in a corner of their loafing area when they departed. He never liked to be by himself and so it was an unusual situation. Meanwhile, a plumber who had been called to repair a leaking pipe arrived and when he walked into another part of the barn, the man could hear a thrashing noise and deep moaning groans. He followed the sounds and came upon the sight of Panne, upside down in a large hay feeder, on his back with all four legs in the air! After the call for help, staff members came running. The feeder had to be dismantled so that Panne could roll out. It took him no time at all, once he was right side up, to trot out to the field where he went directly to his mother’s side.
Panne lived a full, contented life at the DSC and it was not unusual to discover him in one predicament or another. He was just that kind of being. His health had always been generally good but then staff noticed a decline in his bearing about 6 months ago. By that time Panne was 25, which is well into the senior stages for an equine of his size. Arthritis had developed in his hips and back, and he was obviously sore when he moved around. Muscle wasting became evident, too, and so with much regret we knew that it was time for him to be euthanized. The autopsy revealed that his stomach had stopped emptying.
We were fortunate to have shared so many years with Panne. His lively, curious nature will long be remembered and I miss seeing him amongst his gelding companions, roaming in the pastures.
Sandra Pady, Founder