One morning, I set my alarm to 5 something. Early. Ugh. Alyssa had invited me to come join her for her weekly volunteer duties (or shall I say doodie) at the Donkey Sanctuary. I didn’t actually know what her job was until we bounced across the rutted road and rolled to a stop in a cloud of dust.
“So what is your job, anyway?”
“I scoop poop!”
Considering that I once helped chop up road kill while visiting a friend who worked at a birds of prey rehab center in Aspen, Colorado, I figured I could handle a bit of donkey doo. I grew up with livestock so animal chores are nothing new. Plus, I now work in a hospital and let me tell you, people are way more gross than donkeys.
I could see why Alyssa came out so early. The land (like most of Cyprus) is limestone, brilliantly white, hot and dusty. There was no shade, and it would be a glaring and intolerably hot place to do manual labor once the sun came up. Donkey are adapted for it but soft Westerners are not.
The donkeys all seemed to have names, stories, and personalities. I admit, it was too early for any of it to stick, but I nodded and scooped while Alyssa scooped and chattered away about each of them. She told me that one named Jane sounded like an opera singer warming up when she got excited about chow time. That was actually true and it was so weird I have remembered it.
The sanctuary is a U.K. based charity and runs on donations. They save donkeys who have been abused, abandoned, or whose owners can no longer afford to keep them. As traditional agricultural beasts of burden, donkeys still proliferate in Cyprus. It did make me sad to see one with a limp, several with scars. It is some comfort that they have found a peaceful place to live out the rest of their lives now.
Later on, I went online and adopted a donkey named Beau. They do yearly adoptions for a mere 24 Euros. He was found abandoned in a village and was caught eating a farmer’s beans. Naughty donkey. Well, a donkeys gotta do what a donkeys gotta doo…
You can check out the sanctuary online at: http://www.donkeysanctuarycyprus.org/