IN THEIR HOOVES – Tourists Are Called On To Help

The first time that I remember seeing, really seeing, a working donkey was during a trip to Egypt. We were in the center of Cairo, riding in a car, along with many thousand other cars, moving on those hot, dry, dusty streets. Right in the middle of all of that traffic, a donkey was walking at the side of the road, laden with so many hundred pieces of wood that it was difficult to see his head or his torso. As we rolled past, I stared at his sagging body while the image burned itself into my mind. And I have never forgotten.

Looking back from today, I can appreciate the radical importance for me of the sight of that working animal.   The colossal effort he was making could not be overstated; asking a donkey or mule to carry such weight was just, plain wrong. In the years since, I have witnessed many other donkeys, straining under loads, loads which were too often heavy human beings, people on holiday, visiting the sites and apparently oblivious of their weight pushing down on the animals’ backs. On occasion I would comment out loud and address the donkeys’ owners but I was too often ignored, dismissed as being an emotional woman.

With all of that in mind, in recent years I have become aware of other voices calling for change; more and more people expressing distaste for the animals’ abuse. Now, in recent months a major step has been taken, initiated earlier this year by The Donkey Sanctuary headquartered in Sidmouth, England. That organization has launched a hard-hitting, responsible tourism campaign called “IN THEIR HOOVES”, which encourages tourists who may not always be aware, to take a step back and think how they might feel working in the same conditions as the donkeys and mules they come across in their travels.

The initial focus of this campaign has been Santorini, Greece, where 200+ steps are required to be climbed in order to visit a renowned monastery. All day long, in the blazing sunshine, donkeys carry tourists up and down those stairs. The Donkey Sanctuary has joined forces with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry’s trade association. The animated film in this link is being shown to passengers on CLIA member cruises before they disembark on the island: 

Guided by the 5 questions below, passengers are urged to look out for signs of stress and if they are seen, to report the situation at the nearest police station or municipal office.

  1. WATER – Is fresh water accessible?
  2. SHELTER -Is there shelter for rest periods away from the sun?
  3. OWNER BEHAVIOUR – Is the animal being mistreated?
  4. WOUNDS – Are there open wounds or signs of injury?
  5. WEIGHT – Are the animals being asked to carry an acceptable weight?

All those times that I complained about the over-worked animals, I never reported my concerns; I didn’t think it would do any good.  Now, however,  things are different and campaigns like “In Their Hooves” inform me that my single voice, directed to appropriate authorities, will join those of other people and help to protect the donkeys and mules we see on our travels.

Sandra Pady, Founder

With Gratitude to Jack

Jack with Marci

Recently, as some of you are aware, twenty-seven year old Katy, a Miniature donkey, died peacefully at the Sanctuary Farm.  When that happened, I was reminded of Jack Hallam, Katy’s former caregiver,  whose concern for her welfare, and for that of her three companions, prompted him to arrange to have them transported to us in 2001 from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

Jack, a lifelong bachelor, cared for many, many animals over the years.  The several acres that he owned on Salt Spring were set up for his dogs, cats, rabbits and donkeys to enjoy.  They lived most agreeably all together and it was only the increasing limitations of encroaching old age which compelled Jack to part with his donkey friends by requesting their admission to the DSC.

It seems like yesterday that we began to monitor the donkeys’ progress from the moment that their trailer left Salt Spring.  The ferry ride to the mainland was on calm seas and then the three night road trip began.  For much of it, we were told that the four donkeys munched away, swaying with the trailer as the thousands of kilometers passed by. There were many telephone calls along the way.  On the early evening of the animals’ arrival at the DSC, Jack was here, too.  He had flown to Ontario and then made his way to the Sanctuary so that he could greet them.  We raised a cheer as Katy, Gemmi, Peter and Marci trotted down the ramp.

The Salt Spring 4

Over the years until his death in 2016, we had many opportunities to enjoy Jack’s company.  He was a generous man who visited us often and who helped with the costs of the donkeys’ ongoing care.  Their future welfare was important to him and so he made sure to inform us that a bequest in his Will had long been made to the DSC.  Jack was always thinking ahead, aware that ‘the future’ can become ‘the present’ in the blink of an eye while ‘carrying on’ means just that.

We invite those of you who are reading this post, people who care about animals and their long-term welfare, to consider leaving a bequest to the DSC in your Wills, too.  Upon request, we would be glad to send along the DSC Guide to Legacy Giving which might assist you as you make up your mind:

Like Jack, everyone who notifies us that the Sanctuary is listed in their Will is welcomed into the DSC Green Fields Circle.  Such long term commitment means much – needed  help will be there in the future and we are grateful to be able to acknowledge this generosity in this way.

Although Katy is missed by many staff, volunteers and donors (Peter died in 2017),  Gemmy and Marci are still living at the DSC, roaming in the fields as I write.  At the same time we are confident that Jack Hallam’s spirit is here along with them, enjoying the peacefulness of their animal world.

Sandra Pady, Founder


WORKING ON YOUR BEHALF: Animal Justice and Humane Canada

Animal Justice is an organization dedicated to leading the legal fight for animal protection in Canada. Its lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push for prosecution of animal abusers and fight for animals in court.

Humane Canada is the federation of SPCAs and humane societies across the country.  For more than 25 years this organization has worked to persuade  government to amend animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code. 

Their persistent, dedicated work is making a difference and in recent weeks they have had cause for celebration.

In early June, when Parliament passed Bill S-203 (the ban on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity), Bill C84 (amendments to the Criminal Code pertaining to bestiality and animal fighting) and Bill C68 (the outlawing of the trade in shark fin products) – bills which had faced delay and obstruction through every step of the legislative process – it was due to the combined efforts of Animal Justice, Humane Canada, 20 other stakeholder organizations, and dozens of scientists from the relevant communities.  The passing of these Bills was an historic moment for animals in Canada, major steps along the road to an ultimate goal: the parliamentary  recognition of all animals as sentient beings.  

Our praise goes out to these and all of the other non-profit organizations that are working to improve the lives of animals in our society.

For further information: and

Sandra Pady, Founder


Improving Animal Welfare: a government-sponsored public survey

As  many are aware, in March the OSPCA announced the curtailment of their animal welfare protection services in Ontario as of June 28, 2019.  This dramatic action, which could have a major impact upon animals in need of intervention and help, has precipitated an announcement by the government  that it is now “working towards a new, permanent enforcement model”.

Subsequently, on May 17, 2019,  the Ontario government released a public survey intended to be a “next step” in the improvement of the animal protection process. It is important that all of us who are committed to the improvement of standards of animal welfare take this survey which must be completed on or before June 6, 2019.:  .

Additionally, since the development of a new enforcement model will be no doubt a lengthy process, a government regulation has been posted enabling affiliates of the OSPCA, such as local humane societies, to continue enforcement as would be necessary.

Along with the completion of the survey, please contact your local MPP to express your concern about this situation. Effective animal welfare protection services, carried out by people specifically trained in this regard, should exist province-wide and they must be supported with adequate funding.  Your telephone call or email will encourage these results.

Thank you for helping the animals,

Sandra Pady
Continue reading Improving Animal Welfare: a government-sponsored public survey

A 4 Minute Film That Says It All

A few days ago, we received the link to a mini-documentary produced recently about the work of the DSC.  The film has been made available for our use and we are proud to share it with you.

Our gratitude goes out to the team at P-Your Vision Inc., Toronto, ON who are responsible for the conceptualization, creation and production of the film.  We think it captures with sensitivity and clarity the vision and mission of The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada.

As they say……..enjoy… and do share this with your friends.

Sandra Pady, Founder



A polar vortex swirled through our part of the world last week. While we groaned about the temperatures day after day, the frigid air was busy making ice on the DSC pond and come Sunday (yesterday) the sheet was 6″ thick.  Added to that, there had been limited snowfall in the period and so the ice’s surface was like a mirror. 

By 2 pm DSC volunteers Sheila, Leigh, John, Gavin and David had put on their skates and were flying across the 2 acre pond.  What a glorious sight!  There is nothing on earth so appealing as an expansive sheet of ice, 90% of it smooth, on a still winter’s day.  John shared his formidable hockey skills with Leigh, a fledgling player, while Sheila glided around on her figure skates. For their part,  David and Gavin took a bit of time to call up their long-unused skating techniques.  Before anyone realized, between skating and hot chocolate an hour and a half had zipped by.

Hot Chocolate and Cookies – MMMMMMM!

After I had taken these pictures, I walked over to the parking lot and looked up at the Donkey House.  Our fields are so icy these days that no donkeys are foolish enough to venture out.  Nevertheless, I was delighted to see three of them, hugging the north wall, with big ears pointed straight up.  I realized in a moment that they were watching the moving figures on the pond.  Few things happen around the DSC without their awareness, of course.


Winter in our beautiful country is so special.

Sandra Pady, Founder



DRABBLE (n.): In creative writing, a drabble is a work of prose fiction exactly 100 words long, excluding the title. A drabble, although short on words should be a complete story that contains a beginning, middle, and satisfactory ending.

Let’s all write a book, a book of donkey drabbles!

You are invited to write a drabble about a donkey or mule that you know, or that you like, or that you admire, or that you like to groom, or that you like to take for a walk, or that you see in a field or that you hug or…….

The drabble should be about the donkey (or a pair or group of donkeys, or mules), maybe about an event in its life at the DSC or before the DSC, or voiced by the donkey, or voiced by someone who knows the donkey or about how the donkey makes you feel, or…… The donkey can live anywhere.

The drabbles will be put together in a book and then sold as a way to raise funds for the DSC. In the book, on every left page will be a donkey’s photo, and on the right page facing it there will be that donkey’s drabble.

Since the donkeys live in the moment, our drabbles will be in the present tense, in the moment too.

If you are using Word, remember that there is a word counter at the bottom left of the screen.

Send your drabble to

March 1, 2019 is our deadline for submissions and we hope that yours will be one of them. The drabble entries will be numbered and then a committee will make the final selections.

Oh, and please remember, this is not a writing contest. This is for the donkeys. 

Sample drabbles 

Example#1                               SOLO                 

Solo is a clever, cautious, confounding donkey. When it comes to his preference on Open Days he is consistent.  On those mornings, Solo ambles to the Office Paddock to wait for someone to unlatch the gate.  That done, he ambles up to the open-ended overhang attached to the barn and settles in to watch the passing parade.

Visitors come and go; they smile up at him. He gazes back: aloof, calm, safe from the unsettling pats of human hands.

At day’s end he chooses to return to the now-empty yard, content to spend the night amongst creatures that are known. 

Example #2                                 PANNE

In the wet winter barn the over-sized water trough is empty. Wait! There might be something at the bottom; maybe it is a bit of carrot.

Panne investigates. (Panne always investigates.)  When he bends over his four feet slip away from under him.  Now Panne is upside down in the trough.

In the area next door staff members hear moaning. They turn in circles, trying to identify the source.  Finally, they go around the corner and see four long legs sticking out of the water trough. Hurriedly, it is cut open and Panne scrabbles out.

No carrot is in sight. 

Example #3                                             I SAW A SIGN

By Erik Mortensen

I saw a sign yesterday. LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY! It troubled me to see everyone walk by. I paused to think (very Platonic of me).  If everyone tries to lead does anything get done?  Sometimes to lead don’t we have to follow?  Everyone else on the street seemed to be getting out of the way, or were they following?  It seemed three options were not enough.  I was trapped in my head.  Thinking, thinking, thinking.  I decided to tear the poster down, leaving the remnants pasted on the glass.  Does that make me a leader now? 

Example #4


By: Johanna Jamnik

I am dabbling in babble to scrabble a drabble. Do I have the mettle to meddle and muddle the dribble to drabble?  I could quibble with Sybil as I riddle with twiddle or could I cobble some gobble as I coddle some boggle of all things glottal?  I muddle befuddled and huddle to muddle as addled I paddle in gabble to tangle and wrangle this dribble to drabble.  Ah, I think now I have got it!  This dabbling and meddling and riddling and cobbling and muddling in babble and gabble and bobble and twiddle and dribble is now a —drabble!

Have fun! Sandra Pady, DSC Founder





 Christmas it is always more peaceful around the Sanctuary.  With just a few  volunteers and staff each day, there is a quietness that blankets the lanes, fields and paddocks.  In the silence we can feel more in harmony with the other species who share the land.

My husband, David, was clearing away buckthorn (his arch enemy) from the sides of the fields the other day and as he worked, the red hawk that is never far away was gliding over the fields, looking for mice. When he looked down, David spotted signs of the two deer, a buck and a doe, who take refuge in the forests nearby.  For company they have the twelve or so wild turkeys that poke around in the undergrowth, muttering all the while and whose tracks in the fields signal their never-ending quest for left over grain and beans.

While David worked Hugo, our standard poodle, scurried around, sniffing and searching in particular for signs of the pale-coated coyote whose territory includes the Farms.  He or she is larger than Hugo. When he managed to give chase to the coyote one day our dog was left far behind. Of course, for both  running is instinctive but the coyote is much faster.  Better the squirrels and rabbits for Hugo to chase.  They play games with him, ones that always end with them climbing trees and burrowing into wood piles much to Hugo’s exasperation.

So far this winter, David has not seen the red fox who was around much of the summer.  We are quite sure that it was the fox who stole the geese eggs this season.  By the third week of  June there were the original four pair of Canada geese who had come to nest, but no goslings. The fox was spotted here and there all summer but now  David wonders whether it met its match in the muskrat and family who frequent the pond and marsh at West Ridge. In any case, the muskrats have built a lodge in the main marsh where they are sure to be hibernating, sleeping away from the cold.

While all of these lives are being lived in the fields, marshes and forests, the equines chew on their hay and straw for the much of the time.  Bright skies draw them outside, no matter how cold the day, and every now and then games of chase provoke the inimitable sounds of hooves crunching in the snow.  These flurries of action are short-lived, though; better to stand very still and soak up the sunshine.

From this complicated, uncomplicated place we send you our best wishes for a New Year filled with peace, good health and the beauty of the natural world.

Sandra Pady, Founder


I have been in the process for some time of reading through Ben Hart’s exceptionally helpful  website,  Ben is an equine trainer whose positive, supportive training practices can be used with donkeys to great effect.  As his website begins, “Ben has a mission to provide safe, ethical, sustainable behaviour training for horses, donkeys and mules worldwide by using the practical application of the science of behaviour”.

The website itself has a wealth of information, clearly presented and best digested in thoughtful doses.   There is much to be learned from his methods and philosophy, and as his points accumulate in the mind a total picture comes gradually into view.

Early on, Ben introduces his students to the practice of creating a ‘shaping plan’  for a particular animal, a plan that relies on small steps and much positive reinforcement while creating freedom for the trainer to be more in the moment with their animal.

The use of the word, ‘shaping’ is singular in itself and it reveals some of the nuances of the Hart philosophy.  According to the  Oxford dictionary to shape is “to create, form, construct, model, mould, fashion, bring into desired or definite figure or form”.  Whatever the end goal, when shaping is involved rigidity, impatience and absolutes have little place.

In centuries gone by, and unfortunately still in too many communities today, people believed that equines had to be ‘broken’, an act that involved cutting or tearing, dividing or dispersing into two or more parts. The goal here was to break the animal’s spirit, to overwhelm to the point that there would always be submission. It was and is a cruel, unnecessary approach, one based on the assumption that the equine is lacking in rational intelligence and sentient feeling.

The practice of breaking an equine hung around for much too long and it was not until the twentieth century that the expression, “Teach Not Make, Train Not Break”, began to circulate among some members of the equine training community.  This methodology was and is less antagonistic.  Instead of approaching the donkey, mule or horse as an adversary, the metaphor of the classroom tempers the process.  The teacher/student relationship is more compatible, with a suggestion of working together rather than beating down a perceived ignorant will power.  With this approach the trainer is working in the realm of the positive, recognizing innate potential, deserving of respect.

It is  from here, I think, that we move logically to the idea of ‘shaping’ equine behaviour.  The small steps, the positive reinforcement contribute to a training process that does not harm the animal physically or psychologically.  The aim is to work in the moment with consistency and clearly defined goals, with a rhythm that removes stress from the training experience for both parties involved.

Whether you are a trainer looking to improve your methods, a small landowner thinking to take in a donkey or other equine as a pet, or a city-dweller generally interested in the equine world, there is much to be learned from visits to Ben Hart’s website.  His positive approach is ethical, safe and sustainable — qualities that should be inherent in all relationships, human/equine and otherwise.

Sandra Pady, Founder





With November being such a dour month, what with its gray skies, persistent rain and diminishing hours of daylight, I am taking the opportunity to brighten your day with some images of Kate Pratt’s  donkeys.

These adorable crocheted equines are hand made by Kate who is a retired school teacher and a dedicated DSC volunteer.  Every Wednesday morning she can be found volunteering in the barn and then in the evenings while watching television Kate raises funds for the Sanctuary by creating these delightful stuffed creatures.  Each is one of a kind and sells for $25.

To date, Kate’s donkeys have garnered almost $5,000 for the Sanctuary, funds which have been used to support the construction of cement padding, fencing in the mules’ paddocks and supplies for some of our donkeys and mules with special needs.

As well as being available for sale in our Long Ears Boutique, particular donkeys can be ordered to accompany  sponsorship packages.  If you would like further information:

Thank you, Kate!