Happy Birthday – We Got You A …Donkey

Last Month we went as a family to the Donkey Sanctuary in Manchester. What a fantastic place!

It was my boyfriend’s birthday and as usual I was totally stuck for what to get him.  Classic man above the age of 40, when asked what he would like as a gift he replied “undies and socks, can’t go wrong” tut! Ok, I realise that he seriously does need socks these days. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that he has only a few odd, holey, was once a pair, socks left and it’s likely that this has something to do with the fact that my kids and I can never be bothered to try and pair up our own socks and so just rob his from his draw whilst he is in the shower but since they get put in the wash basket at my house, they never find their way back to his drawer again.  I did attempt to get him a pair of socks from Matalan last Christmas, they even had his name across the top but when he unwrapped them, his joy soon dissipated when he discovered that one sock was around size 7 and the other a size 12…I have no idea how that happened (and for once, that’s the truth as usually I always know what happened, but keep my mouth shut). Why am I still talking about socks??
Anyhow, after travelling the main road between our respective houses, we again passed a lonely donkey in the field and my fella, for the fortieth time, regaled us with the story about how all donkeys have a cross on their back because it was a donkey which carried Mary to Jerusalem; a story that stuck with him since childhood. He then did his rant about hating grown-ups and heavy people riding them; to which my son asked why he doesn’t beef about Mary riding the donkey since she was a big, fat, pregnant woman – hubby ignores that one. Finished off with if we won the lottery, he would donate to the donkey sanctuaries, personally rescue all abused donkeys from mean and/ or big fat preggers people and spend the rest of his days surrounded by the world’s population of Eyeores.  That’s when an idea struck.
So at home, I visited the Donkey Sanctuary website in the hope of finding out if we could visit. I was chuffed to bits to discover that not only could we visit but we could adopt one too.  I browsed through the gorgeous animals and soon came upon a chap called Cocoa.  He was 20 years old, had a best friend called Soufflé from whom he was inseparable and was described as a real gentleman.  I wanted to reach through the screen and hug and smush him immediately.  I signed up and paid just £24 for a one year adoption and for that, my dude would get regular updates on how Cocoa is doing, an adoption pack and a warm welcome for him to visit his donkey as often as he likes.  Perfect!  We might not be saving the donkey population, but it was a start!
Birthday morning, we woke my man up with a slightly too enflamed chocolate cake, burning dangerously close to my morning birds-nest hair extensions, and a rousing version of Happy Birthday courtesy of some minion sounding app on my Son’s IPod.  Hubby opened up his Sherlock Holmes book and looked pleased, read his card and laughed his ass off (kids and I just can’t do mushy sentiment cards) and then handed him an envelope. Looking confused, he spent a good few minutes trying to penetrate the over-sellotaped package then pulled out his certificate of adoption. His reaction was priceless and one of most precious moments ever.  Tears rolled down his face as he took in the meaning of his gift.  My daughter then finished him off by saying we were off to visit Cocoa that very afternoon. I hadn’t realised or appreciated just how much this could mean to him!
At the sanctuary; which our sat nav was crap at finding by the way, the staff were waiting for us at the front door. They showed us around the premises, introduced us to Soufflé and then led us out into the yard to meet Cocoa. Love at first sight!  Hubby got to cuddle the beautiful donkey, heard all about his life and how he came to the sanctuary, his likes and dislikes and all the while I snapped endless photographs. What beautiful creatures they are and what mellow yet playful personalities they have!
We then visited the rest of the donkeys and saw the area where the animals work with disabled and special needs children.  The children can ride and play games with the animals and for the children in wheelchairs, a special cart has been created for the donkeys to pull them along in. 
My heart has yet to unsquish from our visit to the sanctuary.  We hope to visit the other sanctuaries across the UK too.  I highly recommend these places as a wonderful day out, whether you visit alone or with your families.  Support for this wonderful charity is vital and you can help in so many ways, whether fundraising, donating when you can, adopting a donkey or just by visiting the facility. I promise you will fall in love with them too.

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