Monthly Archives: February 2012

Jip’s Memoir’s…………………………by Catherina Davis

This February we had to say goodbye to another dear old friend,Jip and we will miss him dearly. This is Catherina’s tribute to Jip as written in his own words:-
Just Thinking

Hello, my name is Jip. It is nearly my time to leave this world, so I have decided with the help of my good friend Catherina, who is a volunteer here at Paraiso Del Burro to translate my story from donkey language to English so you can read what I have to say about chapters of my life….

I am 41 years of age which in donkey age is quite old. Before I came here, for part of my life I lived with a group of cows on a farm. I worked on the farm with helping to carry loads in a cart and general farming duties. At the age of 30 I went into retirement as I started to suffer from Osteoarthritis which is a degenerative joint disease as a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint or a normal result of aging. It is also caused by wear and tear on the joint. Cartilage is a firm rubbery tissue that cushions your bones at the joint and allows bones to glide over one another. If the cartilage breaks down and wears away the bones rub together. This causes pain, swelling and stiffness. The ligaments and muscles around the joint become weaker and stiffer. As you can see I am quite knowledgeable about osteoarthritis, because of my retirement I had extra time to read up on the subject!

Although it seemed alright, I did find it difficult as being a donkey I did not speak cow language and felt a longing for living with other donkeys. We are a type of sociable animal and build up a very close bond with one another. So as I lived each day and accepted my cow friends, I dreamt of pastures new and felt the need to travel a bit more. I feel I am a wanderer of sorts.

My dream came true one day when this friendly Dutch woman called Marleen Verhoef came to see me. She said she had a sanctuary and wanted to know if I would like to come and live at her place where there were other donkeys too. I felt so excited and felt such happiness inside. Marleen said she would come back and collect me in a few days. Then the day came and Marleen returned and I got into the donkey trailer box. We travelled for quite a distance but I didn’t mind that, as I was able to look out and see new places and I had been given straw to eat in case I got hungry along the way.

I arrived at Paraiso Del Burro and was lead out into the field. I took a long look around and then I saw some donkeys in the distance. They approached to greet me. One was called Joep and the others were named Norbert, Thesa, Kees, Claar and Grietje. They took me on a tour around the place and told me the daily routine of what happens here. It sounded so good, I felt so overwhelmed by it all.
I fitted in straight away because of the friendliness of Marleen, the volunteers and my new donkey friends. My life could not get any better than this. We get alfalfa in the morning, and then we go out and wander around the fields for the day, eat grass or have a sit down and rest to take in the beautiful view. In the evening we are brought into the stables and we each receive a bowl of food which consists of apples, carrots, ginger, beetroot pulp, bran, sunflower oil and grain. After we eat our food they fill up the feeding troughs with straw and refill our water buckets. Then we rest for the evening. I have been here four years now and over those years some of my friends have died of old age and more donkeys have come and as we have become a bigger group the volunteers built another stable to give us all enough room to live comfortably.


One of my favourite days is Monday as my good friend Lynn Waterhouse comes to brush us. I love to be brushed and especially getting my ears and face massaged. Lynn is so kind and gentle and I always stand there in the field while she does this. I have been nicknamed “Jippy the hippy” as I have a long haired coat and some of the hair on my lower belly and legs started to get dreadlocks, because of my legs being tender and sore I do not really like my hair to be brushed there. During the summer two of the volunteers here, Ineke and Dean Kincaid had the job of cutting off my dreadlocks and trimming my coat slightly, so now I am back to being called Jip again.

The farrier Mariano comes every week to clip our hooves. When it is my turn I do not really like it and because of my Osteoarthritis, it hurts my beck legs for them to be touched and held when my hooves are clipped. So I kick out really fast for Mariano to stay away. We, donkeys can kick backwards and sideways also. I am pretty quick and fast for an older donkey!!. Mariano said I am like “Jackie Chan” and I took this as a compliment. Over time I have allowed Mariano to clip my hooves as I trust him and he allows me the time to offer my legs to him without force. I do not mind the treatment so much now as he likes to sing to us while he is at work and I know he would not hurt me. As I have said before I do have stiff muscles and tendons so Mariano had to fit horse shoes on in order for me to straighten my back legs more and to help me to walk better. It seems to have worked.

Michael and Alan administer the medicine

A few weeks ago I got an infection in my hoof so Mariano and the vet came to look at me. It was painful and I was given medication for that. The infection was so far up in my hoof that the vet had to clean it and wrap it up as to not have further infection. I did have difficulty in walking. One night I fell in the stable. Marleen, Catherina, John, Alan and Michael all helped in lifting me up. I did end up injuring my front leg when I fell.

Jip in the hoist

During the days that passed I was unable to stand at all. My legs were so weak and all the volunteers would help me up to sit and eat. They tried in helping me to stand but I am a big donkey so Michael found a new way to lift me up with the use of scaffolding frame and very strong ropes to suspend and support me. This seemed to work well to begin with and I could stretch my legs and try to stand while being completely supported. Everyone came to help me to get up and get the straps on twice a day but I began to notice myself I was becoming weaker and weaker. I tried so hard, mentally I knew I was strong enough but physically my body was spiraling towards not being able to overcome this. I am old. I am the oldest donkey here and with all the love, help and attention that has been given to me here, my body just could not do it anymore.

Catherina keeps me company

It is my time to go and as I lie here now with Catherina writing my story, I ask her not to be sad for me and it is time to let me go. I have had such a good life here. I will miss my friends but it is Survival of the fittest and nature is calling me.

By Catherina Davis
Volunteer worker at Paraisio Del Burro.

Marleen brings my deal friend Joep to say “Goodbye”

Ricky’s Story………..The other side of living in Paradise……….by Catherina Davis (Ricky came to the Donkey Paradise in June 2011, this is Catherina’s moving description of his last days here)

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An air of sadness crept across the Asturian valley today (January 2012) in Paraiso Del Burro, where Ricky a small grey and white donkey lay in a very weak and sick state. In the few weeks leading up to this, Marleen had noticed that Ricky did not seem himself at all.

Leading up to this time, when the vet was finally able to diagnose the illness which Ricky had, we had to give Ricky extra care and attention. We had to feed him extra bowls of food, iron supplement and even put a fleece blanket wrapped around him at night time to keep him warm. Ricky seemed to be doing well and appeared from time to time to be getting stronger. He was kept in the front garden during the day so we could keep a better eye on him. One of the volunteers here called Judith would bring him for gentle walks around the field. He even helped in eating the grass in the herb and flower garden, which was very funny as one day Marleen said “we will give Ricky whatever he wants in the aid of him getting better'”. Later that day he was in the garden munching away but at the same time standing all over the flowers and herbs. Normally we would lead a donkey out of there to be in another part as there is ample room for them to wander around here, but for Ricky it was more than acceptable as it was good to see him moving around and exploring to see what he could find to eat.

We kept going with the daily routine of getting Ricky well and making good progress. He seemed stable and was eating well. Then one day he dropped and became very weak in a short space of time. Marleen called the vet as we were doing everything beforehand to help Ricky but couldn’t understand why he got worse again than ever before. The vet could see no immediate signs as to what was wrong so he took a blood sample. The results came back and it seemed that Ricky had Babesia (Piroplasmosis) a disease which can be found in donkeys, mules and horses. It is primarily transmitted by ticks and once infected it can take 7 to 22 days to show any signs of illness. Babesia can be mild or acute depending on the virulence of the parasite. It can be treated with medication depending on the stage of illness but this is not always possible if it is too far into illness.

For the next four days Ricky was given injections. We had to elevate him with the use of a hammock tied with a belt to a wooden beam of the stable. This had to be done as Ricky could not stand by himself now or even sit. Every morning and evening he was lifted up for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. We had to massage and rub his legs to get his circulation moving but also had to be careful of the open sore spots which started to appear on his body especially on the legs. While he was elevated he was given something to eat and drink. He loved cabbage leaves and Brussels sprouts and this was included along with grain, apple, carrot, ginger, bran and foraca straw(oat straw). He had never any problem with his appetite and this was a good sign. I think we thought that Ricky may get better but after three days he still appeared to be so weak.

On the fourth day I think we all knew that Ricky would not be ok and the vet was called again to come and see him. Marleen spoke to the vet and asked all of us what we thought would be the best thing to do. Ricky was not going to get better and it was unfair to keep him going with having to be elevated, moved and having to sit him up to eat every few hours. Ricky was dying and his eyes spoke that out so clearly that it was his time to leave. Ricky was euthanised and is at peace now. We will all miss him so much as he was such a beautiful gentle and loving little donkey.

Catherina Davis