Today, Christmas Eve, it is above freezing at the Sanctuary. The snow is sticky and during my morning walk with the dogs, the trails were crusty in places. Wreaths are still hanging on the buildings and fences, all of those having been created for our December Open Days. Their big red bows contrast so well with the whiteness of the snow.
Starting today, there will be fewer people around the DSC and so the rhythms and sounds of the animals’ world will move to the forefront. Lindsay and Jeanette, two volunteers, came in to work with Lesley and Sarah, two of the animal care staff. The lower barn is still decked out with hundreds of lights and even a little Christmas tree twinkles next to the cats’ bed. As I was making the return trip down the lane, Doug and his partner arrived to lend more volunteer support. They were drawn too, I think, to the soothing stillness that is blanketing the shelters and yards.
Each year at this time I treasure the Sanctuary’s peaceful world. For me, it brings to life the optimism and gentleness that is at the heart of the Christian message. Around the world, the human condition is battered these days and it is a relief to be able to turn away from it and concentrate on other ways to be. At some time during the next 36 hours I hope that you, too, can experience a period of peacefulness.
Happy Christmas and may you have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the natural world.
Sandra Pady, Founder
There is an aura of sadness around the Sanctuary these days because Little Sable died earlier this week. Her quiet company is sorely missed by staff and volunteers alike. Sable was a slight, rather delicate Miniature donkey, always a little shy and always at the side of her devoted companion, Pansy. At night check on Monday all was well with the animals but then in the morning, Sable was found on the ground next to one of the feeders, a sign that her passing had been sudden. Pansy was standing quietly at the side and remained there until the body was taken away.
As all of us who work with the donkeys know, they are companionable creatures often seen leaning lightly against one another. At the same time, – and with the exception of close mother and foal bonds – it is unusual for most of the donkeys to have a particular ‘friend’. In light of that pattern we came to marvel at Sable and Pansy because they were really quite inseparable. Side by side they grazed together, ate from feeders together and rested together. Always, they were a charming sight.
I note that Pansy is 33 years old now, a considerable age for any donkey. For her sake, we are hopeful that she will choose to favour another companion, perhaps Katy, whose mate, Peter, passed recently as well. Communication between the equines is generally too subtle for us to interpret, however, and so we will have to just wait and watch Pansy and Katy as they move around in days to come.
Sandra Pady, Founder