Max: A Story with Ups and Downs


(Originally published in the 2019 Spring Donor Newsletter)

Max is a beautiful, dark brown standard donkey that arrived at the DSC in the late Fall of 2017.

Arriving with his companion, a mule named Star, Max had spent most of his life living with four mules.

Both animals arrived in very good condition, having belonged to an older couple that realized they needed to downsize their group of animals. They contacted the DSC and within a couple of months, both Max and Star arrived at their new home on the Sanctuary Farm.

Though Max was in good condition when he arrived at the DSC, the change in location caused him some stress, which can happen when an animal is removed from a long-term home. Upon arrival at the DSC, every animal is closely monitored to make sure that the adjustment period here at the Sanctuary is as smooth as possible. Max and Star were no different, with both animals entering into a quarantine period before being integrated into their grouping.

When moved to the gelding paddock, we saw signs of Max losing weight too quickly. Along with our veterinarians, we immediately started blood tests, physical exams, and even performing x-rays to scan for any irregularities. None of these tests raised any obvious concerns and so we decided to bring Max to the barnyard to be more closely monitored.

Because of his size, Max had a hard time fitting in with the smaller, more sensitive barnyard group. He spent most of his time on his own and not on the bale, which is counterproductive when encouraging an animal to gain weight. Because he wasn’t competitive for food, Max was moved to the chute next to the barn to ensure that he was eating.

Over time and with a consistent meal plan, Max started to gain back the weight that was lost upon his arrival. As of the beginning of February, Max is at his highest weight since his problems began and we continue to see a positive trend upward.

Along with his weight gain, we’ve seen Max come out of his shell with the people and donkeys in his day-to-day life. Max became a quick favourite on Open Days this summer, often found with his head over the fence greeting visitors who entered the barnyard. Later on in the Autumn, we saw some success introducing him back into the barnyard with the other donkeys.

Like people, each donkey, mule and hinny has a unique personality and the stressors of entering a new environment can be a difficult transition. With extra care and supplements, animals can recover from this kind of stress without any long-term effects. For Max, it was exactly what he needed to adapt to his new home.

To sponsor Max and help us manage his specialized needs, click through to his profile.

Max big brown donkey

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