It rained very hard last night and early this morning. When I walked up to visit with friends who had come to the Sanctuary for a Wednesday Open Day, the air was heavier than usual. As a result, voices in the paddocks were muffled while all around it was coloured either green or grey. The mist softened everything, though, giving the scene the aura of an Impressionist painting.
There were fewer visitors than usual and they were spread out in the paddocks patting and talking softly to the donkeys. After a few conversations it was clear that everyone had really wanted to visit with the animals today; even the forecast of more rain had not dissuaded them from making the trip. A small group of children were so excited to meet Valentine, the donkey, whom they had decided to sponsor. They had spent several afternoons making and selling lemonade in order to raise the sponsorship funds. Their quiet pride for that achievement made them glow a little bit. Another group was made up of the staff from the Canadian office of World Animal Protection. They had opted to visit the donkeys during their staff appreciation day. It was so encouraging to hear about some of their work. World Animal Protection is a global organization that sponsors both national and international projects. Pride in their achievements was evident as well.
While these conversations and so many others were taking place, DSC Staff and Volunteers mingled amongst the visitors, answering questions, sharing their enthusiasm for the donkeys, while watching all the while to make certain that toes weren’t going to be stepped on by the animals who moved amongst the groups. DSC personnel are always quietly alert on Open Days; they feel a very real responsibility for visitors and animals alike.
To complete this enchanting scene, several donkeys ambled around. While most eyes were upon them, their attention was being given primarily to the sweet grass at their feet. Nevertheless, I observed that they would stand very still whenever hands reached out to pat their sides. It was nice to watch Speckle and Juanita, in particular, two donkeys who have been with us since 1991, looking so much at ease with all of the attention. They used to be skitterish, rather hesitant around people. Our respectful attention to them over the years has made a difference.
One is fortunate to experience times like this.
Sandra Pady, Founder