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February 2008


Generally, when the word 'donkey' is mentioned in PE, everyone thinks 'Walmer'.   Well, in Walmer there are only 7 carting families, striving to make a living.  There are however, many more donkeys and carts in the Northern areas of PE and the Uitehage/Despatch area, all with the same problems and aspirations of making a living, and anxious to have access to Primary Health Care for their donks.

Thanks to the African Horse Sickness Trust (a Trust set up by the Thoroughbred Breeders Association), AHS vaccines were given to the Unit so that vaccinations could happen in the townships.  As I am the only one doing the injecting, it leads for sore hands and very long days.  However, it is all put into perspective when one is contacted by a lawyer saying that one of his clients had given him my card (I'll never know how it came to be in his possession!) and asked him to phone me 'because his horse was sick'.   Again confusion, is this it, another possible death from AHS?   No, he had just heard about it from all the others and that could I do the necessary for his horses.   So, on a blindingly hot day in Kwanobuhle, I sat and waited for the man who I eventually found and was taken to his farm so that I would know the way there in the future, and the next day returned to do the vaccinations which in turn, has led to other vaccinations!    He gets 10 points for going to the lengths he did to find me, and another 10 because he then took me into Langa township where I met a few people and made an appointment with them for two weeks time so that they can take me to their homes to 'do' their donkeys.   It makes it all worthwhile, even when it is as hot as Hades!

Donkey owner Tony phoned with great excitement to report that Schoolgirl had had her baby - named Gypsey by the family.   In due course, I popped around and took a photograph so that the old owner could see, and soon, Fudge, Schoolgirl's last foal, will be gelded with our assistance.  Tony, of course, is absolutely besotted with his new addition.

Unfortunately, it does happen - somehow one's horses land up on the road, playing chicken with the fast moving traffic!  Just such a case occurred this month, and on receiving an early evening phonecall from a couple who the ECHCU had assisted in the past, I took off into the night with the horsebox.  After much pushing and shoving, the stallion and mare with foal at foot were loaded and brought back to the Base.  On the way home, I popped in at the Police Station to report that I had the animals safe in a camp.
In the morning, the owner phoned yelling that someone had stolen his horses.  He was informed that the horses had actually been running in the traffic but were now safe.  However, there appeared to be a huge problem with the stallion's hind hooves - they were extremely long toed, so the poor fellow was finding it difficult to stand as the fetlock was being forced towards the ground.
10 points go to
the couple who averted a potential road accident by getting the animals off the road and calling for help; and
Rob Kay, farrier, who is always willing to 'get stuck in' and make it right, even on a Friday after 7pm!
The horses were returned to their owner who was still muttering that someone had 'cut his fence', but only when the hind hooves had been 'adjusted' to a more normal shape - the cut off pieces of hoof make for interesting exhibits on the office windowsill.

This month I have been given the opportunity to address two groups - one the Charity Network and the other, The Royal Society of St George.   Both occasions have been most pleasant, with people showing a real interest in the work of the ECHCU - and better still, donations from the groups have been received towards the work.  The Head Dragon Lady (a friend) even 'paid' two packets of carrots for the donks - which was very well timed!   
A donkey with a serious blockage that was collected last Saturday evening from Uitenhage.  She was taken to the Vet who treated her and it was only towards the end of the week that she started showing signs of wanting to assist by eating, which is when the carrots came in handy!

The little donkey mentioned above also required dosing of a vitamin powder to help her back onto her feet - an empty bottle of Manhattan Green Tea made an admirable dosing gun and once the powder was in the bottle with water added, it was a very simple job to slot it into the side of her mouth and squeeze!   She took to it like a duck to water, getting all the good stuff as required and is hopefully going to go home soon!

Sharon, AWS General Manager, and I have been busy - some would say, how/why?   Well, we have been working on an Animal Wellness Awareness Day on the 10th May 2008 in Walmer Township.   It will be at the High School that is visible from Heugh Road.   We have arranged a full program for the day and ask you to pop in and see what we will be up to - that is if you can find us!   We will be the ones running around trying to organise dogs, cats, donkeys, people, carters, etc etc.
It is all about Education and as we are both being well received in the township with our different animal assistance projects, we would really like you to come along.   You will also be able to see a SA Champion horse and cart setting the pace for the donkeys who will then do their own obstacle race. You will even have the chance to 'strut your stuff' and drive a donkey cart!  Hopefully I have peaked your interest and we will see you there, we are certainly giving you enough time to slot it in your diary.

Warm Fuzzy
.  When I arrive in an area, there is a concerted move by the locals to 'take you to another man with donkeys'.   It makes for long days, but very fulfilling.
. The petrol attendant who asked for a blanket for his father's horse in the Freestate - and then gave me a delighted Thank You the other day and said that both his father and the horse are sooooo happy!
. The donation from Mr PE after a talk on our work.
. The school principle who entertains me every morning while waiting for my groom by getting the schoolchildren all running to the schoolgate to beat the bell (and the huge stick he wields!)
. Then there was the man who had a milestone birthday.  All his friends who were attending the party were asked to bring money instead, all of which has been banked into the Unit's Bank Account.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY and Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!



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