We wanted to celebrate Father's Day in a special way, so we thought to write a little story about one of our determined donkeys here at the Sanctuary, George. A special tribute to all fathers (dads) all over the world, who are daily doing their best to fill us with strength, and making sure we will overcome any obstacle coming our way... Enjoy your reading, and Happy Father's Day!
George's Strange Habit
Almost all humans and animals have some sort of habit, and our George here in Cyprus is no exception. His, is one we've never seen before. First, a little background about George who came to us six years ago. Aged seven, he had been rescued by a retired British couple who live on the island. At the time he was a stallion, had never been handled, was suspicious of everyone and everything and yet not once did he ever kick, bite or do anything out of fear to defend himself. After being castrated, it became apparent that there was something not right with George's eyesight. It transpired he had cataracts which his rescuers had removed – an amazing achievement to find a vet to do this!
As a result, his eyesight was much better although he wasn't able, and still can't , focus on things properly. He could really benefit from varifocal spectacles!
Unfortunately, the couple who rescued George weren't able to care for him and asked he we had room for him at one of our Holding Bases, and so he came to us. After his six weeks in the New Arrivals Unit, he joined the Special Needs group as we felt he would feel more safe and secure than being with the more boisterous youngsters.
George gradually learned his way around although we soon realised he really took his time to move around – a very long time!
This is due to the fact his close and distance vision seems to be the most affected. Over the time it became very clear that George would not be rushed into anything, preferred to make his own way around rather than be led and, as he is a typically large Cypriot donkey who weighs quite a lot, if George doesn't want to move, he doesn't!
As we need to keep any eye on his weight, when it's extra feed time for some of the other donkeys, George has to wait outside under the external cover until the others have all finished. Now one skill George is an expert at, is sniffing out one pellet of extra feed that is in a trough full of chopped straw five metres away inside the barn!
He loves coming in for a rummage on the off chance that there might be a morsel for him, but a few months ago he started this strange habit. When the barn doors are opened at either end of the barn, George walks around the barn three times, always in the same direction, before coming inside! Every day he does this peculiar ritual, until a week ago.
This only happened after the Holding Base owner got his mobile phone out to video George circling the barn! Day after day, the owner tried to film him, only twice did George walk around the barn – once. Yes, just once and so we can only show you the one lap on this video.
Now you may not believe this but since the filming attempts stopped, he's gone back to circling three times again! What's that TV adage? Never work with children or animals?