Vets at the world’s largest donkey hospital have come up with a novel idea to help one of their donkeys cope with the bright sunshine as he recovers from temporarily losing his sight
Jonty’s special ‘bug-eyed’ mask certainly makes him stand out from the crowd at The Donkey Sanctuary’s international headquarters in Devon. The unusual eyewear helps block UV rays. Problems started for Jonty when he stood on a thorn which painfully embedded itself into his hoof. Following a simple procedure at the state-of-the-art donkey hospital the thorn was removed, but things got worse for Jonty.
Vicky Grove, a Veterinary Surgeon at The Donkey Sanctuary says, “The stress of the injury possibly triggered the recurrence of a chronic eye problem. Jonty suffered an immune-mediated inflammation of his whole eye and lost his sight.”
The veterinary team needed to protect their patient from strong sunlight, and the special mask – which gives Jonty his bug-eyed appearance – was just the ticket to block UV rays.
Vicky adds, “The mask is just like wearing sunglasses and Jonty has made some good progress, though the back of his eye is still damaged. We are monitoring his eyes with an ophthalmoscope and have tested his eyesight with an obstacle course, which he has completed so we think he is now just partially-sighted.”
Jonty will wear his mask for much of the summer and the sanctuary’s vets will monitor his progress. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that Jonty's sight keeps improving!
Jonty is currently convalescing at one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s farms, which is not open to the public. It is hoped that following respite he will be brought back to the charity’s main sanctuary in Sidmouth, which is open to members of the public. There he will join a small group including another partially-sighted male donkey called Will.
Blue Cross Week, 7–13 October - seven days when you can join forces with pet lovers nationwide to raise vital funds for pets in need and change lives.
Take the advantage of Blue Cross Week to do something new or show off some skills. Go bungy jumping, cycle coast-to-coast or organise afternoon tea for your neighbours. Whatever you want to do, Blue Cross Week is the perfect time to do it.
Every year, The Blue Cross helps thousands of pets, whether they need a new home or veterinary care. But they can’t do it without the help of the general public, so whatever you choose to do this Blue Cross Week, you’ll be doing something magical for the animals in their care.
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The Donkey Sanctuary recently took in a pair of rescue donkeys, Stuart and Bob. Their hooves were grossly overgrown. When post-surgery complications led to the difficult decision to put Bob to sleep, Stuart needed help to start his life afresh.
Above: Stuart at the clinic before his hooves were trimmed Above: Stuart with trimmed hooves
The Sanctuary's welfare team are always on hand to support donkeys in need, so when the RSPCA contacted them about two donkeys they had seized on veterinary advice, the Sanctuary responded right away to help plan the best course of action. Along with Bob, Stuart’s feet had become so overgrown that his toes were curling up – rendering even a the shortest of walks a painful ordeal.
Head of Welfare, Hannah Bryer, visited the pair at the equine clinic in Staffordshire where they had been taken for treatment. “I could see right away that both donkeys needed corrective care on their hooves from an expert farrier,” said Hannah. “Their overgrown and misshapen feet were causing them pain and affected their ability to stand or walk normally.”
Above: Bob in hospital Above: Stuart and Bob in trailer
Both donkeys underwent routine assessments, treatment and, for Bob, a castration procedure that every stallion receives when coming into the Sanctuary's care. The journey of this donkey duo took a heartbreaking turn when Bob suffered post-operation complications and – despite extensive veterinary treatment – the difficult decision was taken to put him to sleep.
Donkeys form close bonds, and the impact of such a sudden loss can in turn be a life threatening event for the donkey that loses its companion. The team knew that it was vital that Stuart got all the support he needed, and for him to be relocated to another group of donkeys as soon as possible.
Chris Pile, farm manager at the Derbyshire centre, was there to transport the bereft Stuart to his new home. “It’s quite a stressful thing for a donkey to lose their mate,” he said. “We did keep a close eye on him, particularly in the first three weeks when there’s a higher risk of hyperlipaemia – a potentially fatal disease often brought on by stress – but he took it all in his stride and seems to have bounced back very well.” On arrival, Stuart spent some time in an isolated area before joining a group of playful boys where thankfully, he settled in straight away.
Although Stuart now looks like a different donkey, Chris says that such extensive neglect to his hooves will take time to overcome. “When we first met Stuart it was of course the feet that came to our attention – that was our main concern. He had adapted to that way of walking and our worry was that if we corrected lots of the hoof straight away that it might cause some pain. So, we have been correcting the shape of the hoof a little bit at a time to allow him to get used to his new feet.”
In spite of all he’s been through, Stuart is taking strides in the right direction and is undergoing training with a renewed spring in his step. Hopes are high that someday he will find a new friend to fill Bob’s shoes and maybe even join the Donkey Sanctuary's Rehoming Scheme.
Nibbling on grass is natural for cats. Research has not yet shown why domestic cats are attracted to it, but it could be linked to the fact that wild cats will often eat grass after they have devoured their prey, helping them expel the indigestible parts. Another theory is that cats eat grass for some trace minerals and vitamins A and D. Whatever the reason, cats seem to love it!
At Mayhew, they grow cat grass in pots and place them in the enclosures of the adult cats and vaccinated kittens for them to munch on, which they do with gusto! Another firm favourite with many of the home's feline residents is catnip, which is also grown at Mayhew for them to enjoy. If you’ve ever seen a cat around catnip then you’ll know that they can go totally crazy for it, becoming more playful, loving and confident. The sedative effects of catnip can also really help to calm down a stressed kitty, reducing anxiety and depression.
“When cats first come to us, they can be nervous about their new surroundings, but once we offer them catnip leaves or pouches filled with Valerian (another good stress-relieving plant) even the most withdrawn cat will investigate!” Kayleigh Kilcommons Head of Cattery
Ones to watch out for
As pets look forward to exploring the flora and fauna this summer, remember that some plants should be steered well clear of. Foxgloves, daffodils (especially the bulbs), cherry laurel, rhododendrons, wisteria and chrysanthemums can be toxic if eaten. Lilies, although very beautiful, are particularly toxic to cats and can cause severe kidney damage. If you think your dog or cat has ingested a toxic plant, it is essential that you seek veterinary advice immediately.
Read here to find out which plants and herbs are best for dogs
Find out more about the MAYHEW here
The medicinal benefits of herbs and plants for humans are well known; however, you may be surprised to hear that plants can help our canine and feline friends too, from soothing skin conditions to aiding anxiety sufferers. Many of the animals at Mayhew have endured tough times before coming through the doors. Providing access to safe plants in a secure environment can offer them comfort and reduce stress levels as they are prepared for their new forever homes.
Sensory enjoyment for Mayhew's dogs
Mayhew has developed a sensory garden for the dogs in their care. This outdoor run acts as a safe haven, made up of different smells, textures and sounds. The plants in the garden provide stimulation and enrichment but each has also been specifically chosen for its healing properties and ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
Top plants for pooches
Chamomile: soothes anxiety, skin issues or stomach upsets.
Lavender: reduces anxiety.
Vervain: helps with nervous system disorders like depression.
Meadowsweet: reduces inflammation and aids digestive problems, arthritis and rheumatic conditions.
Did you know?
Dogs can suffer from hay fever just like people! Some research suggests that dogs are more likely to develop signs of hay fever if they aren’t exposed to a variety of grasses and plants in their early life.
As the weather improves, staff take the dogs into the sensory garden as much as possible, letting them potter around and enjoy games with toys – or water when it is very hot! The space is also used to work on basic training or socialisation skills and sometimes dogs will meet their potential adopters here, as it is a calming environment and the dogs feel at home. The Kennels team and volunteers are always on hand, watching over the dogs in case they have any unusual adverse reactions to the plants.
MARIA MARKEY, HEAD OF KENNELS, “It is truly amazing to observe the change in behaviour from when a dog enters the garden to how they are when they leave. ”
Scenting and exploring
Some dogs that come to Mayhew struggle to cope initially with a kennel environment, but staff find that even the most withdrawn and overwhelmed dogs will investigate the plants in the sensory garden. For example, dogs that are particularly highly strung or have hormonal imbalances often gravitate towards clary sage. While engaged in scenting and exploring, they stop focusing on any anxieties or tensions they may have and are able to begin to relax. The staff also use essential oil remedies in the kennels, to soothe and calm the residents.
Click here to read more about the Mayhew and how you can help
And of course, not only dogs appreciate herbs and plants, Mayhew's cats do too..... read about them here
Staff at Dogs Trust Evesham are appealing for a loving new home this Easter for a three-year-old Jack Russell with a striking resemblance to the Easter Bunny.
Despite Dinky’s supersized ears being the talk of the rehoming centre and the fact he’s been listening out for a new home since he arrived nine months ago, they haven’t helped him sound out a new home yet. The fun-loving, lively Terrier is now hoping that a new owner will come forward and help put a spring in his step this Easter weekend.
Dogs Trust Evesham’s Rehoming Centre manager, said:
“With unusually big ears, Dinky could easily be mistaken for the Easter Bunny but instead of hunting for eggs this Easter, he is on the lookout for a home to call his own. Lots of people have commented on his striking appearance and we are hoping that all this attention will result in a new home.”
“Dinky is looking to find a loving home to call his own. He’s definitely one for the Terrier fans, he’s extremely clever and loves to learn, he’s toy mad and loves to be out and about exploring. He’s always on the go! He’s not a typical lap dog but does like to be affectionate with his nearest and dearest.
“Dinky does have partial vision in one eye, but this doesn’t hold him back from living life to the full, running around in his garden and showing off his new tricks.”
Dogs Trust Evesham take in hundreds of dogs every year but some, like Dinky, often need a little extra TLC and help from the Training and Behaviour team in supporting them through bespoke training programmes to help them flourish. Dinky has been doing so well with his training, the team say he’d make a fun and entertaining companion and are looking forward to the day, in the not too distant future, when he finds the forever home of his dreams.
Dinky will need a patient owner, preferably with someone who has experience of owning a lively Terrier and can help him settle into a new routine. He will need to be the only pet in an adult-only home and will need his new owners to be around for most of the day with time built up gradually. He loves the company of people and enjoys lots of fuss, attention and playtime.
Dinky is relaxing in a quieter area of the rehoming centre so anyone interested in giving him a home would need to contact Dogs Trust Evesham on 01386 572666 and chat to one of the Training and Behaviour Advisors to find out if you could be the perfect match.
Towards the end of last year, the Mayhew Home had a surprise delivery when their Animal Welfare Officers brought in seven unwanted Jack Russell terriers. The team suspect they were from a puppy farm. Word spread among the staff that there were some adorable new arrivals and everyone was keen to catch a glimpse and hopefully sneak a quick cuddle. They were placed into the expert hands of the vet and kennels teams to look after until it was time to find their forever homes.
Every cat and dog that comes in to Mayhew is seen at the on-site Community Vet Clinic and given a full health check, vaccinations and flea and worm treatment. Once the puppies had been examined, naming them was the next task. Such sweet bundles should be named after treats, so : Fudge, Cookie, Pudding, Pie, Custard, Waffle and Truffle.
Over the next few weeks, the puppies kept the kennels team busy – imagine the fun and the mess! Lots of playing and socialisation took place and the puppies made the most of the indoor doggy play area, full of exciting things to explore and stimulate them physically and mentally.
At nine weeks, all seven puppies were neutered in Mayhew's vet clinic ready for rehoming. The Adoption team works hard to ensure each dog ends up with the perfect family and always provide a profile of the animal on the website rehoming pages to ensure the best fit can be found. Lots of people wanted to adopt these cuties and once new owners had been interviewed and home checks completed, the puppies were waved off to begin life in their new homes.
Do you want a sneak peak at what happened next? Cassie (formerly Custard) landed on her paws with her new owner, Antonia. ‘Cassie loves her walks and meeting people and other dogs, and there is nothing she likes doing more than snoozing on the sofa after walking us around the park or playing with her cat toys. Cassie is a lovely, loving puppy, who everyone adores.’
Alfie (was Fudge) was adopted by a London family. His new owner, Conrad, explains how Alfie is now very much part of their family: ‘Alfie is happily running rings all around us with so much zest, love and enthusiasm. He is such a lovable, cute, ultra-friendly and good natured puppy, with a typical Jack Russell cheeky (sometimes naughty!) comic character. My family, and Alfie of course, are very grateful to Mayhew for all their good work and for bringing us together.’
Maggie (was Truffle) found a forever home with loving owner Emma. A few days after adopting her, Emma said, ‘Maggie has already settled in and is a credit to every lovely person at Mayhew who’s looked after her.’ A short while after her adoption, Maggie came back to Mayhew to meet the Home's new Patron, The Duchess of Sussex, on her official visit.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. See website gillypickup.co.uk