Plans / The blog

The donkey shortlist

Today I met Lilly and Dolly. They might not be called Lilly and Dolly – owner Bill, whilst clearly very fond of his donkeys (to the extent that I’m worried he won’t go through with it and sell me one), isn’t too bothered about names. I’m sure that last time I visited he was calling Lilly Daisy. And when I asked Dolly’s name he paused for a long time before saying, “Well… we call her… Dolly!”

So, who cares about names? They’re donkeys. They are both females, around the eight, nine, ten year old mark, calm and friendly, although not overly so. Wherever I go there always seems to be a whole bunch of much friendlier donkeys about – craning their necks over fences towards me, coming in for a nibble – that don’t appear to be for sale. Anyway, these two seem like good options. Tamlin, the Donkey Sanctuary welfare officer for mid and north Wales, came to check them over, showed me how to pick out their hooves and declared all eight hooves in good nick. (Well, one of Dolly’s had a touch of something… crusty foot? Crumbly toe? But nothing that a farrier couldn’t cut out easily.) Seedy! Seedy toe… Or CD toe? What a novice I am. Anyway, I picked out two of Dolly’s hooves, like a kid using a fork for the first time, before Dolly refused me the next one – rooting it to the ground. Tamlin graciously finished off.


Lilly or Daisy or Dolly…

Then we went for a little walk, just me and them, one at a time – a relief after standing about with donkeys and wise donkey people. You know when you hold someone’s new baby, and while the new parent can see you, you feel like you are doing everything wrong – the head’s flopping about, limbs keep escaping you, there’s milky burps coming up, etc etc. But you know that if they just left you alone, you and the baby would figure things out eventually? It was like that.

So I took them both for a 200m stroll, first Lilly/Daisy – slightly happier to walk, clopped alongside fairly comfortably, not very quick, and then Dolly – reticent, kept stopping altogether, would not go over a wooden bridge, or even up to it, but didn’t mind going past some eager little terriers on leads. Dolly is prettier, soft gingery brown and very much like a donkey, whereas Lilly is creamy, with splodges. But she does have a lovely soft white mane… I think I warmed a little more to Lilly – she seemed a bit more spirited. On the other hand, Tamlin thought Dolly would be better, for the same reason – a little less headstrong for a novice leader.


Bill is happy for me to take both, one by one, for a longer walk. There are too many factors at play to tell much about their characters in so little time – I’m new to them, they can read the uncertainty in my instruction, the dogs, a car, people, the bridge, the other donkeys saying hi over the fence, whether we were walking away from everyone or towards them, the weather – any and all of it. A longer walk, and a gingernut each, and we’ll see what we can tell then…




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