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





Yes, everyone in our part of the world is feeling the heat these days. For the past week temperatures have been 30+C and to walk, even just to and from one’s car can feel  like an immersion in a steam bath. While each one of us has a story to tell about the weather, this morning I was reminded that particular admiration is due from all of us in our air conditioned buildings to farm workers everywhere who have little choice but to be outside most of the time in summer.

During our walk up to the Sanctuary today, at the corner of the barn wall where the main yard opens up, I collided with a wall of hot air.  In the instant, the temperature rose dramatically and enveloped me in a cloud.  Instinctively, I took a step backwards.  At the same time Kayla, one of our animal care staff, approached and of course she was wearing jeans. My obvious comment that they must be very heavy was completely unnecessary.  Kayla, and every other staff member working with the animals, has no other choice.  When one is engaging with large animals, sweeping out stalls, dragging water troughs, hefting bags of feed, throwing bales of hay……..the list is endless and all of it must be done with some protection for one’s humanly delicate skin.  Day after day under the hot sun, encased by the heaviness of denim on the lower body means that  extra-ordinary effort is required just to walk around.  Stamina takes on a whole new meaning under such conditions.

Meanwhile, as we humans attempt to stay cooler, the donkeys and mules  handle the heat in their particular ways.  They go out to graze in the coolness of the nights or early mornings.  No unnecessary effort is expended in their movements.  They amble around the pastures, graze a while, and then stand very still.  Much of the time shade is sought – be it in the relative cool of the Donkey House, barn or Mule Motel – but at the same it is not unusual to see an equine standing, snoozing in the full sun with short summer coat glistening in the heat.  Soon enough, the time for movement arrives, though, and then more than likely a trip is made to a water trough for a good, long drink.  It is so evocative to watch a donkey or mule take up the water and then work that coolness down his or her long throat.

They say that this extreme heat will carry on a few more days.  During that time, our staff will carry on in spite of the temperatures and because of their commitment to their work.  At each day’s end, the shower must feel so good.

Sandra Pady, Founder






Big Ben, born in 1989, is an easy-going Mammoth donkey who was brought to live at the DSC in 2015.  He gets along very well with the other equine residents and he is a favourite with staff and volunteers.

When Ben first arrived he had very little hair on his legs and his previous caretaker had thought that to be a natural condition.  With the arrival of  warm weather, however, flies began bother him and  we soon realized that Big Ben was not hairless on his limbs after all.  Rather, he had become adept at pulling out the hair on his legs in the effort to get rid of the annoying insects. ( There is probably something about Big Ben’s body odour that is a magnet for the flies.)

During his first summers with us, Big Ben was often in the barnyard where he could have fly repellent applied regularly.  That was somewhat of a help but everyone had to remain vigilant about its applications.  It was only a tolerable solution.

This past winter, though, one of our animal care staff, Elizabeth Brezina, made a clever suggestion, somewhat in jest, “Maybe Ben should wear leggings!”.  Sheila Zanyk, a DSC  volunteer, overheard the comment and she decided to give the leggings a try.  Designing, sewing and fitting these covers turned out to be quite a challenge  but  Sheila persevered. The stylish leggings were finished just in time to greet the heat.  They are proving to be a great success……he now has two sets!

After just a few weeks with the leggings,  the hair on Ben’s legs is everywhere it should be.  The flies have had to move on.  Such relief!  Such a clever solution!

Sandra Pady, Founder


At the DSC, a sure sign of Spring is the increasing frequency of donkey walks by our volunteers. This scene, captured a few weeks ago, has since become quite common around the Sanctuary and all who take part agree that the simpler activities in life are often the best.

Those lucky enough to share such ambulatory experiences well know the quiet pleasure to be derived from ‘taking one’s time’. To accompany a donkey on such an outing is to appreciate the significance of every step taken. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Buddhist practice of mindfulness walking originated when journeys were commonly made at the donkey’s pace.

Visitors to the DSC often remark about the peacefulness of the environment, the calmness that is in the air around the farm. I have no doubt but that this results from our equine residents’ rhythm of life. Whether they are walking at our sides or just moving around in their pastures, movement at their pace brings its own soothing reward.

Sandra Pady, Founder



Volunteers Are So Important!

Volunteer Appreciation Week is a great pleasure to celebrate each year.  Below you will find a copy of our most recent Volunteer Newsletter which gives indication of the countless ways that these women and men contribute to the work of the DSC.  On behalf of the animals, thank you so very much.  Sandra Pady, Founder


The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

Volunteer Newsletter

April 9, 2017


To all our wonderful volunteers:

Last year, 8000 hours were logged by our barn volunteers who help clean, feed, and groom our donkeys, in addition to educating the public at our Open Days. We cannot thank you enough. Your time and energy is greatly appreciated by staff and donkeys alike!




Donkey and Farm

It was with very heavy hearts that we said goodbye to our beloved Meegers on March 22nd. Due to a rapidly progressing neurological condition it was decided that his quality of life was not what it should be. We all miss his antics and laid-back attitude.

The vets have decided that the lump under Katy’s chin has drained as much as it is going to and will likely remain the size it is now. Our veterinary team and barn staff will continue to monitor its status.

We are happy to report that the treatment plan for the inflammation along Hannah’s GI tract has helped her condition. She is now off sweet feed, is enthusiastically eating her wet food, and  has gained 15kg. Way to go, Hannah! Hannah, Josh, and Sage continue to be managing okay with the separation from each other.

DaVinci has adjusted to his gapped grin and the incisions from his tooth extractions have all healed. All meds and treatment are now complete.

Providing Burrito with access to free choice hay has helped him gain some weight. He has been cut back to a once per day grain feeding, as well as a cut back on added roughage. Our vet team and barn staff will continue to monitor Burrito for suspected stomach ulcers. We are happy to see him improving.

Apollo was also moved down to the barnyard to help him gain weight. In the barnyard he has access to free choice hay and it seems to be helping. Barn staff will monitor his progress.

On March 29, Nibbles had a farrier trim and unfortunately, she received a small nick. She seemed a bit lame following the incident, but nothing was found to be wrong with the leg. If she continues to limp, a possible regiment of pain medication will be considered.

On Thursday, our vet/farrier team determined that Archie has a severe case of white line disease in his front hooves. On the left hoof, especially, the farrier had to cut back the hoof so much that a small cast was placed over the hoof as the tissue slowly grows back. White line disease is caused by an anaerobic bacteria, so cutting into the hoof and exposing the tissue to the air, helps kill the bacteria. The hooves are sore and Archie is a bit lame, and he is being watched closely. We are confident that it will be resolved over the next few days.

The vet team is suspicious that Shirley has a respiratory infection. She has been placed on a course of antibiotics and her temperature is being monitored for fever. At present she is in quarantine as she could be contagious to the other donkeys. She is being closely monitored.

We are happy to report that Fergus has had some success on his weight loss program. If you are wondering if he could have more food, as sometimes the pigeons eat it, please first check with staff to see whether or not he has had his daily ration.


Donkey Training

Staff continue to make great headway with their new weekly training routine and there have been great improvements in many of the animals that they are working with. As a gentle reminder, Hollie, Petunia, and Kingston remain on the “No Touch” training list, however, it is hoped that by the time Open Days begin, Petunia will be off the list.

Petunia has made great progress with her training. Kayla and Adam have been working together to replicate the farrier experience for her. They are using old farrier tools to help Petunia get used to the sound and feel of them on her hooves and Adam is wearing the farrier chaps to get her used to the sight of a new person in farrier gear. They are now able to pick up all four of her feet with minimal issues. She is on the right path to getting her first sober trim. Way to go Petunia!




Volunteer Appreciation Day

We are truly grateful for everything you do as a volunteer. To say thank you, we have planned a special Potluck Lunch and Round Table “Get to Know DSC Staff” for Saturday, April 21st from 12pm to 2pm in the DSC Dining Room.
In addition to our lunch and “Get to Know DSC Staff”, there will be a Donkey Groom-a-thon from 10am to 12pm and then again after lunch from 2pm to 3:30pm.
Grooming is an important part of donkey care as it allows for 1:1 interaction by someone who can check for and spot lumps, scrapes, and illnesses. We hope our Groom-a-thon will allow volunteers to brush up on their skills.
We hope to see you there with grooming brush in hand and a hungry tummy to fill with a scrumptious potluck lunch.


DSC Paint Night
A few DSC volunteers and staff have organized a fun Paint Night fundraiser that will take place on Thursday May 24th. Unleash your creative side and paint this adorable donkey image made just for the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada by Dactyl Art Co. A Change of Pace restaurant in Morriston will be our hosts. Start time will be 6:30pm sharp, but please arrive 15 minutes early to get set up with your paint supplies and perhaps a beverage. Tara will be our artistic guide in helping us create our one of a kind donkey. The cost is $45/person , but as this is a fundraiser, $15 per participant will be donated to the DSC.
Tickets must be purchased in advance as there is limited space available. To reserve your ticket now, visit:
If enough people are interested, we could meet at A Change of Pace restaurant prior to the start of the art class for a light dinner. If you are interested in doing so, please let Lesley Daufenbach know at


Spring Volunteer Work Days

Spring Volunteer Work Days, which are open to the public, will be Saturday April 28 & Sunday April 29 from 10am to 2pm (or longer, as needed).
Help prepare the Sanctuary Farm for our Open Day season! If you like to work outside and get your hands dirty, we have the jobs – cleaning windows, taking down snow fences, cleaning up trail areas and more. Snacks and drinks will be provided and please bring your own lunch. We have basic tools and work gloves. Children 8 or older, accompanied by adults, are welcome. Come enjoy some fun on the farm!


Donor Appreciation Day
Donor Appreciation Day allows all of us at the DSC to say a big thank you to all the donors who support the ongoing care of donkeys and mules residing at the DSC. However, we need your help to make this day a success!
Donor Appreciation Day will be on Saturday May 26th from 11:00am to 4:00pm (this includes set-up time).
There are many roles available to be filled by our generous volunteers including parking, donkey encounters, marketplace, and registration, etc.
To register online to volunteer for one of the many positions, please click here, or contact


Open Day Donkey Encounters
Another Open Day season is fast approaching. If you are interested in volunteering for Open Days please sign up using the SignUp Genius link:
or on the sign-up sheet in the barn office.
We would like to request that you consider volunteering for a Parking position or Ponds/Trails position at least once throughout the season so that the jobs get evenly shared by all.
Please remember that you must have your Donkey Training in order to volunteer for a Donkey Encounter position.




Open Day Parking

To all of our Open Day volunteers, we kindly ask that during Open Days you drive your vehicle down behind Elizabeth’s cottage and then park up towards the coverall. This will keep the top area near the boutique cleared for visitors. Do keep in mind, however, that  Sundays are Elizabeth’s day off, so to maintain her privacy, we ask that volunteers park closer to the coverall than her private residence. Directional signage will be in place to offer further guidance.


Call for Volunteers

Handmade Washcloths
We are looking for volunteers who would like to share their knitting talents with the Sanctuary. As part of the upcoming Open Day season we would like to sell handmade washcloths that feature our favourite animal – the Donkey!
If you are interested in participating and donating your creation back to the Sanctuary, then we want to hear from you.
To receive your pattern, contact Lyse at: Please be advised that all cloths must be made with cotton yarn to withstand water.


Volunteer Sweaters

Volunteer sweaters will be arriving later this month at the boutique. If you are interested in purchasing one, please visit the boutique this coming May. The cost is estimated to be between $30-$40/ sweater.



As the spring draws near, we want to remind all volunteers to please use caution when driving along Concession Road 4, as well as along the DSC lane-way. We will begin to see re-emerging wildlife, including many turtles from our wetlands.
If you do come across a distressed or injured animal, please contact the Guelph Humane Society at 519-824-3091.



Please keep in mind that the DSC now recycles! Labelled blue bins have been placed in the Sun Room and in the Barn. When disposing of bags of waste, please note that the large dumpster in the parking lot with the orange band is for recycling only. All bags of recycling MUST be clear.




Thank You

The DSC would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Heartland Farm Mutual and the iHeartCommunity Fund. Their generous grant in support of the DSC’s Education Program will help provide training to animal care professionals and donkey owners alike. We are truly grateful for their support!


DSC Job Posting

We are hiring a new Manager, Events and Communications. If you know of someone who would be a good fit for this job, please ask her/him to apply to and/or direct her/him to the posting at:


Volunteer Questions and Comment Box:




The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), which was established in 2007,  is the only globally recognized organization providing standards for identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries.  Recently, it awarded Accredited status to The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada (DSC). The DSC is the first equine sanctuary in Canada to receive this Accreditation.

The GFAS standards have been put into place in order to identify the principles of true sanctuaries: ones that provide excellent and humane care for their animals in a non-exploitative environment and having ethical principles in place regarding tours, commercial trade, exhibition, acquisition and disposition, and breeding.  While a sanctuary can received Verification of their operation according to those principles, Accreditation status requires that operations  meet GFAS Standards of Excellence as well.

The process of accreditation by GFAS is lengthy and detailed. Comprehensive documents are required to be submitted  in the areas of Animal Care and Housing, Staffing, Safety and Security, Governance and Finance, and Policies. Thereafter, a site visit by a GFAS representative takes place.  Attention is given to every aspect of  operations, both in the present and as planned for the future. Further, Standards of excellence have been developed by the GFAS for the care, treatment and management of particular animal groups. The DSC’s work was assessed according to those criteria established for equine care.  This Accreditation will be revisited every three years.

Currently, there are 157 groups in 15 countries that have been assessed by the GFAS.  It is an affirmation of the high quality of our work that DSC operations and structure have been found to deserve Accreditation.

Sandra Pady, Founder





As we work day to day at The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, we keep in mind always that it is our community of supporters who make possible all that we achieve.  It costs over a million dollars each year for us to help so many animals in need, to provide them with a lifelong home and to share, through education, our deep commitment to the improvement of standards of animal welfare across the board.  For twenty-six years it has been a privilege to receive the encouragement of so many donors and to work on your behalf.

On an ongoing basis we aim to provide the best for our donkey and mule residents and the daily challenges can be tremendously consuming.  At the same time, though,  we remind ourselves that the importance of today must be measured in the context of the future.  The animals live long lives and many will need our help ten, twenty years hence.  The needs of future generations in every walk of life are as important as the needs of today.

Planning for the future prompted our decision to purchase Walnut Ridge Farm in 2010, so that the donkeys could have a permanent home.  This became possible when a substantial bequest allowed the DSC to make the down payment.  “Meeting the mortgage” has been going on ever since and by the end of 2017 we had made significant payments.j

That was the situation for us when January rolled around this year when notice came in to us of a particular bequest, received from a long time donor. Over the years this woman had visited the Farm often and she was devoted to the cause of the animals’ welfare.  It was this commitment, we know, that prompted her to arrange her affairs so that she could help in a major way to secure the donkeys’ futures.  It means so very much to be able to state that as a result of this substantial bequest, the mortgage on Walnut Ridge Farm has been eliminated.

On behalf of the entire DSC community, we express our gratitude for this far-reaching, helpful support.

Sandra Pady, Founder