A giant Poitou donkey left heartbroken by the loss of his best friend has found a new companion thanks to international animal welfare charity The Donkey Sanctuary. 

Gentle giant donkey finds new friend for life
New best friends Topper and Dolly are inseparable.

Topper, a fourteen-year-old Poitou, one of the largest breeds of donkey, lived with his companion Amber at their owner’s property in Wiltshire. But when Amber succumbed to cancer and sadly had to be put to sleep, Topper was left alone, pining for his best friend. 

At around the same time, a donkey named Dolly had been brought back into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary after a previous rehoming had not worked out. She had lived at a home with two other donkeys but unfortunately Dolly had not bonded with them and it was felt that it was in her best interests to find her alternative companionship. 

Donkey Welfare Adviser Justine Thomas could see that Dolly was unhappy, and believed that there was someone out there who could provide her with the love and attention she deserved.  

After hearing about Topper’s plight from his owner, Justine worked with colleagues at The Donkey Sanctuary, in particular New Arrivals Manager Sara Blair-Salter and Senior Veterinary Surgeon Alex Thiemann, and arrangements were made to introduce Dolly to Topper at his home near Marlborough. 

Poitou donkeys are a rare breed and require a specialist care regime. Justine knew that Topper’s owner, who is vastly experienced and knowledgeable in their care, would help Dolly settle in when the pair were introduced. 

Measuring an average of 14.2 hands high (142-152 cm), Poitous are distinctive not just because of their size, but also their long shaggy coats. Although a regular breed of donkey, 14-year-old Dolly was particularly tall, so would match Topper’s stature perfectly.  

Gentle giant donkey finds new friend for life
Topper and Dolly with Guardian Sarah Jane

“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,” said Justine Thomas, Donkey Welfare Adviser at 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 stable, just to keep him company at night. 

“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.” 

The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation. 

“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,” Sarah-Jane added.  

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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