Rescued: April 12, 2013
Sometimes things are just meant to be. Like a starving baby donkey who finds his way to our rescue centre – via a dog training centre and a couple of kind-hearted volunteers.
Dog trainer Ruben was talking a stroll near Los Monstesinos back in 2013 when he spotted something very odd: a gentle but terribly skinny young donkey looking for something. It could have been food, friends, or his mum – we will never know.
The sweet boy was only about seven months old and had supposedly been the companion of a shepherd who used to graze his goats and sheep in Los Montesinos area. When the shepherd decided he didn’t need the young donkey anymore, he simply abandoned him.
Having learnt that this donkey had nowhere to go, Ruben loaded him up in the back of his car and took him to his dog training centre, where he gave him food, water, and a roof. Soon both became great friends – and Ruben decided to name him Sancho Panza.
Sancho Panza is a fictional character who appears in the 1605 novel Don Quixote de La Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (think Shakespeare, but in Spanish). Sancho is Don Quixote’s squire – and a very funny, humble and hardworking one.
In just a few days, our donkey version became Ruben’s ‘squire’. Sancho loved the company of both dogs and humans and was so friendly that some of the dog owners even grew fond of him and cared for him as one of the crew.
But things took a turn for the worse after a few weeks.
Ruben’s landlord informed him that Sancho couldn’t stay at the dog training centre. He had just a few days to find a new home for the donkey.
That’s when Kate Cammish heard about Sancho's pending eviction. Kate, who had a soft spot for the noble burro, even considered digging up the terrace of her back garden to give him a home, as she wanted to ensure his future welfare.
Luckily, when Kate told her friend Sandra Gelbke, a more feasible solution became clear. Sandra knew about Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre and recommended Ruben give us a call. So the very next day, we met Ruben and Sancho.
It was such a surprise – and a relief – to find Sancho in wonderful condition and excellent spirits. During his time at the dog training centre, he had obviously recouped and grown stronger. He also had the opportunity to restore his spirits and enjoy human company again. He had grown and became a funny little creature who, to this day, believes that he’s a human.
Saying goodbye was very hard for Ruben. He truly cared about Sancho and letting him go meant losing his trustworthy knight.
Back at our rescue centre, our veterinarian Dorothea checked Sancho and happily found that, aside from needing to be wormed, he was in good health. But he did desperately need to have his hoofs trimmed; they’d obviously never been touched and, if left, could have affected his joint development.
We’ll never know much about Sancho’s life before Ruben, but he was so young when the dog trainer found him that we assume he spent very little time with his mum. This may explain why this handsome fellow prefers to spend all day with people rather than other donkeys – he doesn’t seem to realise he’s an equine!
Three months after Sancho Panza arrived at our centre, another male donkey was rescued. He has whitish hair (well, he's brown with gorgeous white splotches), loves adventures and is incredibly fond of oats, so of course we had to name him Donkey Oaty – the Don Quijote to our Sancho Panza.
These days, Sancho loves to be involved with absolutely everything. He loves to “help” our volunteers as they wash the feed buckets and often makes Rod prepare his dinner first – dare ignore Sancho, and he’ll run through all the feed buckets, knocking them over until he gets fed.
He also loves to untie the shoelaces of anyone who steps near him. And he often lets himself out of his donkey field, to visit our huge horses Bronte and Akim, or steal a little alfalfa hay from our feed shed – we like to refer to him as our “free range donkey”.
Sancho truly is such a wonderful character, an oddball little fellow who never fails to make everyone around him laugh. He is a delight.
As a non-profit foundation staffed almost entirely by volunteers, we rely on your donations to continue our work to save donkeys like Sancho Panza, and to cover their ongoing feeding and care costs. Find out how you can help here.
– Story written by Gabriella Munoz.