When I walked up to see the donkeys this morning, Speckle and Juanita were standing side by side, as ever, tucked into the corner near an entry to the Donkey House. Come to think of it, on most days they are standing there, out of the way, more secure with two walls behind them, I think.
These two donkeys, mother and daughter, have always been retiring in nature, in spite of the fact that they have been in our care for over 24 years. Speckle was pregnant when she was rescued along with several other donkeys in the year before the DSC was established. Then on a cold winter’s night in 1992 she gave birth to the foal we named Juanita.
From her first hours in the world, Juanita was bonded closely with her mother. Over the decades this attachment has not lessened. With other jennet-foal relationships that we have witnessed there comes a time around the end of the first year, when the mother weans the offspring, at the same time physically pushing it away and encouraging independence. When Speckle behaved in this manner with Juanita, however, the effort met with no success. Instead, Juanita persisted and she has only ever been comfortable at her mother’s side.
For several years, these two donkeys lived at a DSC Foster Farm where they received a great deal of attention. This did not change their behaviour, though, and they continued to be shy, albeit always very agreeable. When the circumstances changed at the Foster Farm and Speckle and Juanita were brought back to the Sanctuary, they resumed their solitary habits, preferring to stand at a distance from visitors on Open Days or grazing together but at the same time apart from the rest of the herd.
Now, with Speckle’s age at 31 and Juanita at 24, these two donkeys are well into the senior stage of life and if all goes well they will be with us for many years more. I am so grateful that the DSC could provide them with the opportunity to experience their quiet, full lives. Would that all animals could have such a chance.
Sandra Pady, Founder