It has been a month since Tibet’s death and I continue to miss her presence very much. The smoothness of her silky coat, the sweet smell of hay on her forehead, her inimitably delicate walk: she fascinated me in so many ways. From her first moments in my presence – both of us shivering in the coldness of a dark auction barn – to the last time that I stroked her beautiful ears, this little donkey floated around in my imagination.
During two decades with us Tibet experienced the many stages of a full life. Upon arrival at the DSC she was only 3 years old and already pregnant. She carried her foal, Tengen, for almost thirteen months, birthed him all alone, and then nursed and guided him during his first two years into independence. The decade following was an energetic time for Tibet when she mingled comfortably with the donkeys in the main herd. Hours and hours were passed grazing in the pastures or resting comfortably in the warmth and security of the Donkey House. Then, one day while out in the fields, Tibet twisted her leg and tore a ligament. This injury would go on to inhibit her movements from that time onwards. Thereafter she lived in the barnyard paddock with the older donkeys whose pace of life was much slower. She became a favourite of countless visitors, young and old.
For my part, I always looked forward to encountering Tibet. Her very presence charmed me. I’m sure that bystanders were often surprised by my effusive greetings to this little equine; nevertheless, I would chatter on and on. Looking back, I realize that my compliments to her were part of my desire to connect, to experience the full attention of her gaze. Such moments were always evanescent, though, because of course from her vantage point I was just the other, essentially foreign and unimportant. As I did not exist for her, nor did she for me.
There is one more thing about Tibet that I feel compelled to share. While I miss her very much, I know that I am waiting, too. You see, Tibet arrived at the Sanctuary less than a year after Alice’s death. Alice was a little grey donkey as well, equally fascinating in her own way and the space she left was filled by Tibet. I wonder who will be next.
Sandra Pady, Founder