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September 2007


Dear Friends
Another month has come and gone, and I can't even tell you where to!  I keep a diary on a daily basis and only on going back at the end of the month to compile my Stats for the bosses, do I see where I have been.

The Thoroughbred racehorse that had fallen on hard times and who came to stay, has found a new home.  With the generous donation from Capstone Horse Feeds, a remarkable change occurred - his hair started falling out in clumps and his whole attitude to life altered.   He went in the space of three weeks from a depressed unhappy child to a 'real' horse that gave Alfred the fright of his life!  You see he only has seen them when they are down and out, and not feeling much, much better.  One afternoon, Alfred decided that he would put him in the stable, and the horse was just so overjoyed that when I got there, the horse was dancing around on his hind legs, shadowboxing, pronking and being totally silly!!  It was a joy to watch, even though he pushed me into the fence when I caught him.  I knew then he was ready to go.  A few phonecalls later, and I had his new home, who of course wanted to come and fetch right away. 
I have sent Capstone the series of pictures that have been taken of the animal for their records.
He has fitted in beautifully with his new 'herd' and is putting on weight and his name has been changed to GABRIEL.  I have been told that I will get regular reports on his progress, but certainly he is well on his way and with caring owners to boot.
Fare thee well, Gabriel!

The Carters are often seen on the roads of Port Elizabeth and when I see them I ask if everything is OK?  Only occasionally does it require sorting out a wound.
There are also the calls from the public via the Animal Welfare Society who pass the calls on to me.   It sometimes means stopping what I am doing and haring off to go and see if I can find the 'offender'.  Most of the calls are for overloading and so after an explanation of what the problem is, a redistribution of load is undertaken.   Sometimes the 'overload' is actually black bags that are not heavy, they just appear to be.   What gets me going is just how quickly a cart can 'disappear'.
I keep a record of whom, where and nature of the problem and the outcome, which is sent on to the bosses for their information from time to time. 

An elective surgery was conducted during the month:  a donkey with a tumour on its shoulder that had led to phonecalls of a donkey with 'a broken leg sticking out'.  He has about 30 stitches in his shoulder and when the time comes for him to go home, I will make a suitable harness to prevent damage to the new 'wound'.  He is really very sweet and lets the entire neighbourhood know when I arrive to feed him his brekkies or supper!  Talk about cupboard love!

Two donkeys visited with us this month, both suffering the same problem within days of each other - plastic colic!  Luckily the Carters know how to get hold of me and it is so simple to just collect them in the horsebox, have the treatment, wait a few days for the results to show and then take them home.
My thanks to Mr Sham for New Turf Carriers for pointing out that the horsebox lights were not working!  They have been repaired and now we are all safe.

I felt that Alfred could do with some education on the grooming side so arranged with Yvette Venter, Racehorse Trainer, and her Yard Manager, Abigail, for him to spend a few afternoons learning how to groom properly.   William, their head groom, took great delight in sorting Alfred out to the point where he was sweating!  Of course, an excited racehorse is very different to a pint sized donkey.
I then told Alfred to groom the donkey and you should have seen the look of surprise on the donkey's face when Alfred started currying and brushing, but goodness, does he look good!  Definitely money well spent.

A number of donkeys in Port Elizabeth have had their refits of harnessing done and we, Stan, Di and I, are very pleased with the results.  It is actually quite a simple job to tack the harnessing together for stitching by the Association for the Physically Disabled (APD) and I am a regular visitor to drop off and collect the harnesses as well as to the shops that sell D rings!

This month I was asked to address the Animal Welfare Society Annual General Meeting on the progress of the Unit in the last year.  Sharon tried to tie me down to 10 minutes, but it went on a little longer than that, but hopefully more people will be aware of what is being done and what can be done. 

Over the months, a vast amount of tack has been collected at the stables, some of which I have looked at and wondered what I would ever do with it!   Well, on a recent Field Trip out of town, I saw a man trying to plough with tack that was not good enough and when I got home I chatted with Stan and Di, and between them they made up a perfectly sensible set of ploughing traces.  These will be presented to the man soon, and I am sure that he will appreciate the correct tack as will the mule and horse he was using.

I have, with my boss's permission, added onto our Membership Application Form a section for Corporate Sponsorship.  And now have pleasure in advising that the First Avenue Funeral Home is our first Corporate Sponsor.  Thank you!

In reply to the last Newsletter, I received the following information:
Harriet Pottinger of the Donkey Sanctuary in the UK tells me: "I see that International Day of the Donkey (a GSDS unilateral marketing ploy?) is actually on Oct 4th in the UK, according to http://www.donkeybreedsociety.co.uk, whereas it's on Oct 6th in Australia."  I still  haven't be able to find out why 4 (or 6) October was chosen in the first place.  It may have something to do with St Francis, so perhaps I should ask a friend of mine who is in the Order. 
Does this mean that we will all 'hug a donk' on the 4th AND the 6th, or will we just settle for one day?

Again a response from Peta Jones to the previous newsletter, this information was received:
A well-known function of donkeys !  There was an article in the Farmers' Weekly a year or two back: Miles, G., 2005.  Donkeys: functional farmhands.  Farmer’s Weekly (South Africa), July (95025): 40-41.  I have a number of other references, too, but I must say would not be too happy if leopards were the predators!  Donkeys don't really like any sort of dog, but they will tolerate them if not too much of a nuisance.  I finally managed to get a shot of one of my dogs being chased by boss donkey, who knows her to be rather slow and fat and never actually does her any harm.  An earlier dog got stomped by another donkey, and thereafter assiduously avoided all but baby donkeys, which she adored!  That stomping donkey has since adopted a relaxed attitude to dogs, however. 
From time to time I attend workshops on animal breeding, and have chats with a sheep breeder who also comes.  He told me that he had two donkeys that were very efficient sheep guards.  However, one died and the other just lost interest in life and died about six months later.  I read that as convincing support for my often repeated point that donkeys suffer if separated from their friends.

From time to time, I am called to investigate various complaints about the condition of horses.  Sometimes the problem is not as severe as reported, and sometimes it is.  I hope we all understand that you cannot 'fill' a thin horse up overnight, but over the previous months have found that because of the way the problem is handled, the horse owners now phone to ask advice on all sorts of things including the phone numbers for farriers, feed merchants, possible rehomings. 

My British Donkey Judge Di, in order to assist me with the harnessing project, sent me her CV to read.  It is most interesting, expecially the closing 'claim to fame' - that of breaking in Reindeer to harness for Christmas in the UK!  She has also been known to play scrumhalf in charity rugby matches!  All I can say is, thank goodness she is here in Africa!
C U in a bit!


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