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October 2008

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COOPERATION BETWEEN WELFARE SOCIETIES

You know those days when everything seems to slide off your plate onto the floor, making a huge problem of cleaning up?   Well, that is certainly how it felt at the time!

It just so happened that I was on duty this particular weekend, mucking out early on Sunday morning in order to get to my church service when Hannes from AWS happened along to say that he had received a phonecall from a man standing in his beachfront flat and looking out to sea with his binos – when along walked a donkey!!   From Bayworld towards the Boardwalk? What WAS the donkey thinking?

AWS went ahead to see if they could find the donkey followed shortly by me with the horsebox.  Ellen Dunning from Domestic Animal Care also gave us a heads up as to which direction the donkey was, and then along came a Traffic Officer who indicated with blue lights and waving arms that we should follow him. We all drove into Kings Beach parking, and there stood the donkey munching away with not a care in the world – I reckon he was heading to have an early morning swim!

It just goes to prove that cooperation does exist between welfare bodies and when put into practice, solves problems quite quickly!  (P.S. I eventually completed the camp muck out at 1.30 having started at a bright 7am!)

My thanks to Domestic Animal Care and AWS’ Hannes for their assistance.

Of course, Animal Anti Cruelty League also comes in for a honourable mention.   They called on a Saturday afternoon about 3 donkeys stuck on the center island between north and southbound lanes on the PE/Uitenhage highway.    With red flags waving and wearing Horse Care Unit hazard bibs, the donkeys were safely removed from the scene. There was also the handing over to us of used tack that they had received.  Thank you to the Animal Anti Cruelty Leagues’ Charity Shop and Patsy Wagner!

WHAT DOES IT WEIGH?

A bit of brain fluff – how much does a collection tin with R272.20 in it, weigh?  1.64 kilograms!    Well done to the staff and patrons of Ian Robertson’s Pharmacy, staunch supporters of HCU activities.

FAMILY LIFE

In order to get to the donkey population, we have to build up trust between and the owners and us – in that we were perceived as ‘taker-aways’ initially.  However, once the barrier was overcome, you cannot help but get involved with their lives.   They have problems too, like not making enough money today for tonight’s supper.  It is not a question that they ever earn enough to go and do a months shopping in one go and put it in the freezer!

This leads to all sorts of things being brought to your attention.   Like David, who has only 1 leg, and his son James, who assisted with working and bringing in the money for the family.   Unfortunately, James died this month, a devastating emotional blow to his mother and father, as well as an additional breadwinner.

However, the funeral could not be held and closure gained until payment was received.  Some people chipped in and this allowed the funeral to take place on a Saturday morning. It is not right that any parent loses their child – it is meant to be the other way around.  And, of course, it does mean that David and his other son can start working again.

Of course, there is also the other side of the story – being approached to find a horse and carriage for a township wedding!

RESCUE

And so, one blustery morning, I received a phonecall from one of my township horse owners.  In his haste to explain his insuperable problem and my listening abilities on a cellphone with the wind howling, I heard that one of his horses had fallen down a hole and could we please come and assist with getting it out.  I raced to the office and grabbed Craig and Alfred with a spade, and as many loading ropes that I could get my hands on, and with a little assistance from Captain Goba of New Brighton Police Station who escorted us to the scene, found that it was not my favourite Socks nor his brother Britman who were down the hole, but a cow, and at least 5 metres down at that!!

Now, Horse Care Units really only do equines, but how can one turn and walk away?  The cow had gone missing on the Sunday and a passerby had heard a disembodied moo coming from a water pump concrete bunker.  He raced off to tell my owner he had found the missing cow, which is when Alfred got excited and called us!

With a little ingenuity, the NMMM Environmental Services and a front-end loader, and lots of helpful hints and gesticulations from bystanders, the cow was hoisted to the surface.

The cow was last seen wobbling along looking for something to eat and the owner most appreciative of everyone’s assistance.  How it came out with no major injuries will always remain a complete mystery to me and we never did get to use the spade to dig it out! 

STORMY WEATHER

While returning from township calls in the middle of a cold front, an sms was received from a friend about 2 donkeys playing in the 5pm traffic at the Forest Hill robots.  As we were already on the road, we continued on to the scene of the problem.  Taking turns to drive and ‘herd’ from behind using our red flags and hazard jackets, we were able to move the two unwilling donkeys that had, by then, found shelter under a tree, and get them back to the township.

Of course, what the motorists thought about the bakkie driving along the pavement with lights flashing is anybody’s guess, until they saw the donkeys trotting along and that would have explained our behaviour, but I can tell you that there was no hooting or hollering involved.

We were both sopping wet by the end of the escapade, but our donks were safe and so were the motorists!

DORRIE

Dorrie, the sewing machine, is doing a sterling job – allowing Craig to churn out harnessing, and his latest idea, hobbles for our own use and also to cut down horse blankets to donkey size for those donks who come in all ‘shocky’ and need a little TLC to get them back up to speed.

Di Roe has popped in and assisted with putting bridles together from donated tack – cutting down and adding holes where necessary, and even doing that job that most of us don’t like doing, oiling it!  Thank you, Di!

Because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, we spent an hour one day doing our own ‘strength test’ of cotton webbing to see just how strong it was.  There were a few confused people watching us tie the harness first to a pole and then a tree and then attach it to the bakkie that I then tried to drive off!  

Result:  Cotton Webbing breaks at 1,200 revs of a 28 horse ‘tug’.  

Deduction: If your cotton webbing harness breaks, you are clearly overloaded!

RUNAWAYS

Then there was the day that Supt Botha from Walmer Police Station phoned to say he had found three donkeys on the Schoenies Road and would I assist with sorting the problem.  As I have a good relationship with my local police station (and I want to keep it that way!), we duly took off to find said donks – but they had disappeared into thin air!

Everyone lent a hand, from Sharon and various staff at the Animal Welfare Society and us, to try and find the donkeys.   Eventually the three were found miles away in the ‘bush’ and also on a very dangerous stretch of road.   However, the staff very gamely herded the offenders back to the road, where we proceeded to proceed in orderly fashion with all the bells and whistles going, back to Animal Welfare premises where they were loaded into the horsebox and taken back from whence they came!

As all the staff had had a real runaround for the better part of an hour, I felt it was only fair to reward them all for their help and treated them to a braai.  The AWS staff has been known on more than one occasion to give assistance with loading reluctant donkeys and they really appreciated having their efforts on our behalf rewarded.

THANKS

To Sally Blinman who assisted by stopping the stream of cars at a railway crossing when she came upon us trying to move donkeys across a busy road.

To the Adopter to The Two Aunties thereby giving them a safe haven.

To all the veterinarians who assisted with a serious compaction colic that has ended with the desired result.

To Lindsay for the donated bales of Lucerne after a party.

ROUND AND ABOUT

Our pleasure in finding that Whitey the donkey who had been so ill when he arrived, had increased his abdomen by 65cm in four weeks!

Our regrets at having to return Cheeky to her owner who was missing him terribly.

Our pleasure on making friends with 4 kudu subadults at a Recheck. 

My pain when cruising the streets of Walmer suburb at 5.30 in the morning to find the donkeys that had woken me up with their early morning ‘chatter’.

 My pleasure when Craig did his first solo township feed delivery successfully and not getting lost and finding all the owners – giving me time to get this newsletter and monthly stats up to speed for month end!

M

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