A giant Poitou donkey left heartbroken by the loss of his companion has found a new mate thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary. 

Topper, a 14-year-old Poitou — one of the largest breeds of donkey — pined for his companion, Amber, when she had to be put to sleep due to cancer. 

At around the same time, a donkey named Dolly returned to The Donkey Sanctuary after she failed to bond with two donkeys at the yard where she had been rehomed.

When she heard about Topper, Justine Thomas, a donkey welfare adviser, worked with colleagues at The Donkey Sanctuary to arrange for Dolly to be introduced to Topper at his home near Marlborough. 

“Poitou donkeys are a rare breed and require a specialist care regimeJustine knew that Topper’s owner, who is vastly experienced and knowledgeable in their care, would help Dolly settle in when the pair were introduced,” said a statement from The Donkey Sanctuary. 

Measuring an average of 14.2hh, Poitous are distinctive because of their size and long, shaggy coats. Although a regular breed of donkey, Dolly was particularly tall and so matched Topper’s stature.  

Justine added: “Donkeys form strong and long-lasting friendships and much prefer the company of their own kind, so it was very important that we found Topper a new donkey companion. Dolly turned out to be the perfect partner.” 

Topper and Dolly with Sarah-Jane. Photo: The Donkey Sanctuary

Topper’s owner and Dolly’s new Guardian, Sarah-Jane Newton, said: “Topper was clearly in distress at being on his own and I was extremely concerned for his welfare, even to the extent that the whole family slept out in the garden summerhouse right next to his stablejust to keep him company at night. 

The Donkey Sanctuary was amazing. Justine and the team pulled out all the stops and Dolly soon arrived.

“Topper was beside himself with happiness when he saw her, and although Dolly needed some time to settle in and get used to her new environment, they both desperately needed a best friend and bonded almost immediately.” 

Sarah-Jane added: “They are inseparable now, and it has been wonderful to watch their relationship blossom. Dolly is a wonderful donkey with a huge personality; they are the perfect match for one another.”  

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