A Christmas Tail

Far from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, in a peaceful enclave nestled between Cambridge and Guelph, is The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada.  A place where donkeys and their equine cousins- mules and hinneys (a hybrid cross between a horse and donkey) seek shelter from a life of neglect, living out their golden years in a secure and caring environment, lush with rolling green meadows and woodland views.

Founded in 1992 by Sandra Pady, a sheep farmer who brought home her first donkey with the idea of providing protection for her flock, only to discover donkeys just protect animals that they bond with.  Captivated by their relaxed nature and gentle disposition, she quickly became a guardian to several other donkeys and set about creating a safe haven for them- the largest in North America.  Today, The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada houses more than sixty donkeys and equine, with a foster farm program that provides homes for another forty.  A non-profit charity fueled entirely by private donations, the sanctuary opens its doors between May and October, encouraging visitors to come and spend time on the farm, meeting and greeting the donkeys, getting to know their unique personalities and habits, amidst picturesque walking trails and picnic spots. 

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

Lets meet a few of the residents-


Indiana is a grey-dappled Mammoth donkey from Northern Ontario, born in 1997, and raised with three other companions.  During his time there, he developed delicate health issues which kept him confined to a paddock.  Sadly his owners knew they could no longer care for him, and contacted DSC where he resides today.  After two years of specialised care, and a change in diet, he has been able to join the main herd for brief periods of time.  


Solo is a charming grey-brown Standard donkey with a natural curiosity towards people and enjoys standing close enough to sniff ears.  He was born and raised in rural Quebec.  His early years included cruel methods of training which caused erratic and unpredictable behavior.  When his owner could no longer handle him, she reluctantly gave him up to DSC, knowing he would be well-cared for.  


Summer was born in 1970, a large dun-coloured Standard donkey with a grey muzzle.  She arrived at DSC in 2002 after a sheriff discovered her while on a call to seize property from a farm for non-payment of rent.  Her owner was long-gone and she had been badly neglected.  Summer’s hooves were so overgrown, she hobbled in agony from the stall to the waiting trailer.  It was during a record heat wave when she arrived at the sanctuary, so her name could be none other than Summer


Tibet is a small Standard jennet with a shaggy coat of grey and brown hair.  She came to DSC in 1997, after being removed from her home by a humane society officer who found her in such poor physical health, dangerously thin with her long hair matted and full of lice.  She was pregnant and gave birth to a healthy foal- Tengen who is often found close at her side in the fields.  

More than two hundred knitted miniature donkeys were sold this Christmas season through mail order.   These woolley donkeys were all made by one amazing volunteer- Jan, and are for sale at the Long Ears boutique on the grounds of the sanctuary.  The proceeds from the sale of these uniquely crafted items go to care for the donkeys in residence.  If you would like to help out and knit a few donkeys please click on the links at the bottom of the post.  

Happy Knitting and Happy Holidays!

Large Woolley Knitted Donkey

Mini Wooley Knitted Donkey

7 Responses to “A Christmas Tail”

  1. Paul_catherine694 says:

    This is a timely story and very sweet.

    I live less than thirty minutes from here and never knew it existed.

    This spring I plan to visit and meet some of the donkeys.
    thanks :)

  2. marie says:

    This looks like a great cause, and after owning a donkey years ago I can say they are truly gentle animals

  3. tea43 says:

    heartwarming tale!

  4. R S says:

    thanks for sharing this story, a very worthwhile cause and i can see myself knitting a few of these equines for donation.

  5. R N says:

    what a lovely post!
    i remember a friend from school who had a donkey on her farm who would follow her around the field. they are extremely loyal animals and have a gentle shy side. nice to see they have a home here.

  6. H G says:

    a wonderful read.

    such sad lives these donkeys lead if they are primarily used for guarding other animals and carrying loads.

    this place near guelph sounds like a dream.

  7. Ashleigh says:

    these donkeys have found a safe place at last and i hope people realise the amount of care that is involved before they rush out and adopt one of these animals.

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