You all know about Moses and the truck, Hercules opening bolts, Helena and her fascination with bootlaces and Velcro – things you almost expect from younger donkeys. There’s an old saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and while this isn’t true, we certainly didn’t expect it of two of our very elderly donkeys!! Actually, we didn’t teach them – it was a team effort between Squeak and Bobby.
Both donkeys had been feeling rather poorly and for several weeks, their appetite wasn’t what it should be. To encourage them to eat, we let Squeak and Bobby out every morning for a few hours, to eat their food in peace. It also gave them a chance to have a nibble of the bits of rough grass and herbs around the feed barn and the portacabin where the carers have their tea break and a bin of pony nuts are kept. For a while, they were quite happy strolling around, but it didn’t take long for Bobby to realise that the portacabin had a feed bin in it as well as the occasional human and, most importantly, biscuits!
The carers quickly learnt that Bobby and Squeak could get the portacabin door open and walk in, so they put a padlock through the catch on the outside of the door. Admittedly, they didn’t do it up but this kept both donkeys out of the building – for a while! One morning the carers returned to find the portacabin looked like it had been burgled! The feed bin was open, pony nuts were all over the floor, cups and cutlery had been knocked off the worktop and chairs had been tipped over. The biscuits box, which was now on the floor, was completely empty. There hadn’t been a burglary – there’d been a Bobby and Squeak break in! Of course, Bobby and Squeak were nowhere to be seen until they were found happily eating some grass down the other end of the Holding Base!
Obviously, the portacabin is now locked properly, but when its tea break time, Bobby and Squeak know the humans are back. To try to persuade them to keep out, a large wheelie bin was put in the doorway but they soon realised it could easily be knocked over with their noses. Tying up the door with a rope on the inside didn’t work either, as Bobby would just keep playing with the edge of the door until the rope came loose.
It would be simpler, of course, to put the two old boys back in their field, but they look forward to their visits each morning and it is entertaining to be with them. Having worked hard all their lives before coming to us, at their ages, we think they deserve a bit of fun and it’s lovely to see them happy and enjoying themselves. It just shows that you’re never too old to learn new things, even if it causes mischief. We just have to keep a close eye on them and remember to use the padlock!