AND CHICLET TOO -These days are very sad

It is almost too much to have to describe another loss in the DSC family.  Chiclet, who for years was a faithful companion to Paco, is dead now as well. 

 Chiclet was only 11 years old but throughout his life he suffered from the after effects of a first year of life that was marked by woeful neglect.  In those early months minimal and inept hoof care had sparked the earliest stages of laminitis in his feet.  Over the years, the condition became chronic, and he lived with some constant pain.  In February, our veterinarians recommended surgery to alleviate the pain in his hind legs. The surgery itself went well, but Chiclet developed serious complications following the procedure.  In his weakened condition, he developed hyperlipaemia and endotoxemia, which caused a severe laminitic episode.  The resulting structural damage to his hooves was so extreme, the humane decision was reached that he should be euthanized.

David McAleese, a grade 2 teacher whose class sponsored Paco and Chiclet, has sent us this poem that expresses so well  the gift of these little donkeys’ lives. 

Gentle Friend, Chiclet

Gentle Friend at daybreak,
With coat of shining white,
Welcoming the morning warmth,
Little Paco in your sight.

Gentle Friend at noontime,
With the sun high in the sky,
Playful with the happy guests;
Patient Paco close nearby.

But Gentle Friend, as night fell,
And dark replaced the day,
Alone you stood, a sad time,
Little Paco’s called away.

But now gentle friends, companions,
Share that gentle, last good night.
Reunited, now and always,
In meadows forever bright.

Rest In Peace, little ones.

 Sandra Pady


PACO – Rest in Peace

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is not a large organization and so every donkey and mule to whom we give care is known well by staff, volunteers and our supporters.  142 equines have been taken in over the years and each one has charmed us in a unique way. 

And then there was Paco.

Paco was a tiny donkey, born with a severely malformed jaw and thoughout his life, he could chew, very slowly and awkwardly, only on one side of his mouth.  His tongue hung out on one side as a consequence of the deformity; indeed, the entire right side of his head was askew.

In spite of all of that, Paco displayed a level of determination that was truly awesome.  Every meal that he ate, he ate slowly, carefully and, at times, painfully.  18 months ago, our veterinarian removed three enormous teeth that had grown at devious angles.  He was more comfortable after that.

Since Paco was a small Miniature donkey, he was a great favourite with our visitors.  He was always gentle and more than patient with human attention.  About 3/4 of the way through every Open Day, Paco would indicate that it was time to be alone and to rest.  And, always, Chiclet, his devoted companion, would be nearby.

Paco collapsed a few days ago and experienced violent seizures.  We rushed him to the Ontario Veterinary College Clinic but to no avail.  He died soon thereafter and it will be a few weeks before the test results are available which might inidicate the cause of his demise.

Here at the Sanctuary Farm we see alot of death and each time a donkey passes on, we mourn.  In Paco’s case, it is like a little light has been extinguished, one that signalled exceptional courage and determination. Rest in peace, Paco.  We are grateful for the time that you were with us.

Sandra Pady, Exec Direc

Farewell, Anapke

We will remember Anapke.  She was the helpless donkey thrown out to parasail over a beach in Russia last Fall.  Her brays of fear were heard around the world.

Literally, thousands of voices rose up in complaint wherever this stunt became known.  For our part we, and many others, sent letters of concern to the Russian Embassy in Ottawa.  No responses were received; apparently the Ambassador and his staff did not deem the matter important enough to address.

As a result of the outcry Anapke was sent subseqently to a farm where, we were told, she lived in comfort.  No photos of her were available and earlier this week a press release informed the world that the little donkey had died as a result of heart trouble.

After death, we often say that a person or animal is ‘in a better place.’  For Anapke this is very true.  No creature or person should ever have to endure the mindless cruelty that caused her to suffer so much. Wherever you are now, Anapke, may you receive always the gentle touch that you deserve.

Sandra Pady, Executive Director

What is it about Ed?

Ed is a spotted Standard donkey, on the slender side these days because we have had him on a special diet in recent months as a way to discourage his too frequent attacks of laminitis/founder.  Ed is a quiet creature, not given to quick movements or pushy ways.  He is just Ed.  And therein lies the mystery.

Like all donkeys he is preoccupied with satisfying his needs.  Food and water are crucially important, of course, and then there are those many hours each day when he stands and rests, often with ears at half mast, thinking about I-don’t-know-what. 

People often ask me, why donkeys?  Or, what is so special about them? 

Well, my answers are sometimes very long and somewhat convoluted as I search for adjectives to describe the way that I feel when I am in the donkeys’ company.  But they don’t need to be because it is really very simple.  All of the donkeys’ energy is concentrated on right now, this second.  Our western concept of time: past, present and future just does not work with them. 

 I do think that First Nations people the world over can understand ever so easily what needs to be said here.  For many of these groups (the Hopi, for instance), their languages do not  have words for past or future.  The closest they come to this are the words for ‘sooner’ or ‘later’.  Ed’s vocabulary doe not even include those.

Much of the time, Ed puts me under his spell at the drop of a hat.  His energy field is so very concentrated on just where he is at that moment that it can physically affect my rate of movement.  Yes, indeed, the Sanctuary Farm is a peaceful place as so many people have found it to be.  And it is caused by all of that good donkey energy just pulling us to be still and in the moment.

Thanks, Ed, for teaching me so much.

Sandra Pady, DSC Exec. Direc.

A Gentle Touch

We have all had the experience of reading something that moves us in a manner like no other. During the course of my work I encounter, on a regular basis, statements that are intending to persuade, to point out that we must always be aware of the impact we make upon other beings.

I don’t know who Elizabeth Goudge is but when I read the statement below it stayed with me like few others have.  I think that it is her judicious use of the word, ‘contempt’.  It is so powerful and so descriptive of care- less actions.  Indeed, the time is short and we should move with a gentle touch.

“Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a [person], a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short. Civilization is another word for respect for life….” –                   Elizabeth Goudge, Author

WORD POWER – Do you really mean what you say?

“She chickened out at the last minute!”

“Sheila and Joe can be very foxy.”

“He made an ass of himself in front of everyone.”

“During the meeting they bitched about everything.”

In our everyday conversations, at times we are so focused on the message we want to convey that we don’t pay attention to the words that we are choosing to make the point.  We forget that words can be descriptive, powerful and harmful – all at the same time.

Each example above describes human behaviour in a negative manner.  However, when we stop to consider the words that that have been used, we realize that the metaphors are denigrating particular animals at the same time.

As we all know, the behaviour of any creature is too complex to be reduced to a single, negative characteristic.  The movement of a chicken, the agility of a fox, the voice of a female dog, the comportment of a donkeys: each occurs in a specific context and for a specific reason.

Next time that you want to describe a person’s behaviour, think twice before you speak.  Be certain that your use of words does not does not harm or sacrifice the integrity of a fellow creature.

The Zen of Donkeys

During my yoga class this morning, as I lay in Shivasana pose, attempting to rid my mind of pesky thoughts, an image of the donkeys moved into view.  They were standing in the winter sun, as they often do, with their thick winter coats ‘fluffed up’ (How do they do that?  When a bare hand is held lightly on the coat, the heat that it traps tickles the skin.).  At that instant I became aware of a palpable feeling of relaxation: it was the stillness of the donkeys that was serving to soothe.

No matter the season, donkeys pass a significant amount of time each day just standing still.  I used to wonder what they might be thinking during those times but, then, after I started to practice yoga my impression changed.  I have concluded that, like yogic stillness, it is for them, as it should be for us, about be-ing.  Breathing in and breathing out.  Living in the now.  That is the gift of life.