‘They both needed a best friend’: lonely donkeys find joy with each other

  • A giant donkey who lost his best friend to cancer has found happiness with a new companion.

    Topper, a 14-year-old Poitou donkey, lived with his companion Amber at their owner’s home in Wiltshire. Sadly, Amber was diagnosed with cancer and had to be put down.

    Sarah-Jane Newton, Topper’s owner, said she was seriously concerned for his wellbeing after the loss of his friend.

    “Topper was clearly in distress at being on his own and I was extremely concerned for his welfare, even to the extent that the whole family slept out in the garden summerhouse right next to his stable, just to keep him company at night,” she said.

    Around the same time that Amber died, a 14-year-old donkey named Dolly returned to the care of the Donkey Sanctuary as a previous rehoming had not worked out.

    She had lived with two other donkeys, but had not bonded with them, and those around her felt it was in Dolly’s best interests to find alternative companionship.

    Sarah-Jane had contacted the charity after Amber’s death and donkey welfare advisor Justine Thomas suggested Dolly could be a perfect new companion for Topper.

    Justine worked with the charity’s new arrivals manager, Sara Blair-Salter, and senior vet Alex Thiemann to introduce Dolly to Topper at his Marlborough home.

    “The Donkey Sanctuary was amazing. Justine and the team pulled out all the stops and Dolly soon arrived,” said Sara-Jane. “Topper was beside himself with happiness when he saw her, and although Dolly needed some time to settle in and get used to her new environment, they both desperately needed a best friend and bonded almost immediately.

    “They are inseparable now, and it has been wonderful to watch their relationship blossom. Dolly is a wonderful donkey with a huge personality, they are the perfect match for one another.”

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    Justine added: “Donkeys form strong and long-lasting friendships and much prefer the company of their own kind, so it was very important that we found Topper a new donkey companion. Dolly turned out to be the perfect partner.”

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