Donkey who was ‘grief-stricken’ after best friend’s death finds happiness again

  • A donkey who was “stricken with grief” after the death of his long-term companion has made a new “friendship for life”.

    Raffles, who lived with owners Rosie and Mike Dewhurts in northern Scotland, was heartbroken when his best friend Harry died suddenly in November 2022. The Dewhursts contacted The Donkey Sanctuary for guidance.

    “This was also a very traumatic time for Rosie and Mike, who not only lost one of their beloved donkeys but also saw the effect it had on Raffles,” a spokesman for the charity said.

    “Over the next few weeks, and with lots of love and care, Raffles began to overcome his grief. Rosie and Mike were torn between relinquishing Raffles into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, where they knew he’d have a loving home for life in company of other donkeys, and rehoming another donkey. They eventually decided to apply to become guardians, and were successful.”

    The Dewhursts undertook Donkey Sanctuary training in preparation for their new arrival, and divided one of their fields so the two donkeys could be kept separated initially.

    “Then they received the call they had been waiting for – a suitable companion for Raffles had been found,” the spokesman said.

    “Bob lived among the resident herd at The Donkey Sanctuary Leeds and had been providing donkey-assisted activities to people in the surrounding community, while being trained for their rehoming scheme.

    “Before coming into the care of the animal welfare charity, Bob was originally bought by his owners at Appleby Fair in Cumbria. He proved to be a bit of an escape artist and kept setting himself free. The owners were unable to secure him on their land and were concerned for his safety, but wanted the best future for him – so they made the decision to relinquish him into the care of the sanctuary.”

    Bob arrived at the Dewhursts’ home in Aberdeenshire last August.

    “When Raffles saw him, he cantered over to meet him across the fence,” the spokesman said.

    “The pair then spent around 20 minutes trotting back and forth along the rails getting to know each other.”

    The pair were put in the same field and within half an hour, were grazing side by side.

    “To see Raffles with Bob was wonderful,” Rosie said. “He had been alone for seven months and now finally both donkeys had the chance of happiness together.

    “Initially we spent a great deal of time with both, sometimes sitting for an hour or two observing them and offering cuddles if they came to say hello to us. But as Bob settled, we gave them more time alone. We gave them quiet time and space, and within two months they were fully bonded, playing games together and mutually grooming.

    “The whole experience has been so positive for Mike and me, but more importantly for Raffles and Bob.”

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