A donkey who was mourning the loss of his long-term companion has now found a new friendship for life thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary.

Raffles had lived with companion Harry and their owners Rosie and Mike Dewhurst in northern Scotland, but when Harry suddenly passed away in November 2022, Raffles was left “heartbroken and stricken with grief”.

Rosie and Mike reached out to The Donkey Sanctuary’s welfare team for help and advice and were then contacted and subsequently visited by Donkey Welfare Adviser Adele Crompton. Adele suggested they might like to consider becoming Guardians to another donkey on their Rehoming Scheme, who could become a friend to Raffles.

Rosie and Mike were torn between relinquishing Raffles into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, where they knew he’d have a loving home for life in company of other donkeys, and rehoming another donkey. They eventually decided to apply to become Guardians, and were successful.

They then received further Donkey Sanctuary training in preparation for the new donkey’s arrival.

Rosie with Bob

They were matched with Bob, who had lived among the resident herd at The Donkey Sanctuary Leeds and had been providing donkey-assisted activities to people in the surrounding community, while being trained for their Rehoming Scheme.

Before coming into the care of the charity, Bob was originally bought by his owners at the Appleby Fair in Cumbria. He proved to be a bit of an escape artist and the owners were unable to secure him on their land and were concerned for his safety, but wanted the best future for him, so they made the decision to relinquish him into the care of the sanctuary.

With the support of Adele and fellow Donkey Welfare Adviser Nicola Liddell, Bob arrived at Rosie and Mike’s Scottish base in August last year.

When Raffles saw him, he cantered over to meet him across the fence. The pair then spent around 20 minutes trotting back and forth along the rails getting to know each other.

Mike with Bob and Raffles

Adele then suggested that Raffles should join Bob. Raffles was quite active and keen to get to know his new companion, but Bob was completely non-plussed, taking everything in his stride. Within another half an hour they were both grazing side by side.

“To see Raffles with Bob was wonderful,” said Rosie. “He had been alone for seven months and now finally both donkeys had the chance of happiness together

“Initially we spent a great deal of time with both, sometimes sitting for an hour or two observing them and offering cuddles if they came to say hello to us. But as Bob settled, we gave them more time alone. We gave them quiet time and space, and within two months they were fully bonded, playing games together and mutually grooming one another.”

Bob’s character has started to shine through, and Rosie and Mike have discovered that he has two loves in life, apart from Raffles – food and people.

“It has been a real pleasure to support not only Raffles but also Rosie and Mike on their journey to becoming Guardians on our Rehoming Scheme,” said Adele.

“Rosie and Mike have always put Raffles’ welfare at the forefront of all their decisions, and after lots of discussions we were eventually able to find a perfect pairing with Bob.

“Bob and Raffles have settled into their new friendship as if they have been together for years. I know that they will want for nothing in their new home.”

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