“I’d say they healed each other.”
The friendship between a human and an animal is oftentimes an extraordinary one. And, the bond between a young girl named Amber and a rescue therapy donkey named Shocks is no exception.
Before Shocks the donkey was rescued and taken in by The Donkey Sanctuary in Birmingham, England, he was found lying in a field at a farm in Ireland with a rope tied tightly around his neck. Not only had lesions and sores formed on his body from being tethered so tightly, it is suspected that his previous owner poured bleach on his wounds in an attempt to help him heal.
Now, however, Shocks is treated with respect and kindness, as well as is best friends with a little girl named Amber. The two met in 2013 when Amber, who at the time was two-years-old, was still unable to make a sound. According to The Dodo, the girl and been born prematurely and had to undergo an emergency tracheostomy, a surgery that put a pipe in her neck to let air in. The procedure saved her life but cut off airflow from her vocal chords, essentially making her mute. Amber also has cerebral palsy, which makes it a struggle for her to move around.
Fortunately, both she and Shocks improved upon meeting and befriending each other. Amber’s mom, Austwick, commented:
“It was fairly immediate to see they had a bond together, as they were both so gentle with each other. Shocks would lower his head to her and would allow her to hold him around his neck. It was scary for us, as parents, as he was so big compared to little Amber, but they really seemed smitten!”
Because the donkey encouraged Amber to be active, she gradually built up strength and even learned to ride the donkey who once had been left for dead.
When Amber turned three-years-old, she underwent another surgery. This time, however, the operation was to help her talk again. After a period of time had passed and Amber’s vocal chords had healed, she spoke her first words upon reuniting with Shocks. Before she and her family left the sanctuary, she hugged the donkey and said, “I love you, Shocky.”
“It was such a proud moment and of course a massive relief to know that she could speak,” Austwick remembers. “I’d say they healed each other.”
Amber is now attending school but still makes time to visit her friend.
“She gets to go in the arena with him and groom him and cuddle him and lead him around the arena and she loves it,” Austwick said. “They still value their time together and they still love their cuddles.”
Amber and Shocks’ bond has inspired many, including the young girl’s parents. In fact, they even wrote a book about the pairs’ healing process. To help The Donkey Sanctuary rescue and train more therapy donkeys like Shocks, you can make a donation.
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