Matilde caused total mayhem overnight and damaged herself too. I should have realised there was something wrong when I had my customary Sunday lie-in but noticed there were no braying protests at 8 am when the donkeys tell me they have waited long enough for breakfast. By 8.30 there was still no braying. I got up, prepared their usual treat of chopped carrots to give them before their breakfast, and went down to the field.
Morris, Rubí and Aitana were all lined up at the perimeter fence, gazing intently across the road. On the other side of the road, feeding on the long esparto grass and weeds, was Matilde. I was shocked to see the whole length of her nose was bloody. On nearing her I could see a whole triagular lenth of furry skin hanging loose, with an open wound showing white bone for about fifteen centimetres.
The whole morning was spent on Matilde: immediate donkey first aid was the priority, but getting an emergency veterinary call-out on a Sunday involved complications. My equine vet was unavailable on the usual emergency number and the alternative number did not respond. The Marina Baixa Veterinary Hospital emergency team said they only dealt with cats and dogs! Finestrat vet service emergency number said they had no transport so could not do a home visit! I pleaded with them that surely they could find transport: I would pay for a taxi! For this was a real emergency and there was a serious wound that needed urgent professional attention with stitching. “Lo siento,” I am sorry, was the best they could offer.
Some friends kindly brought over some long crepe bandages from a mountaineering centre first aid kit, as I had no bandages big enough to do a first aid job on such a large animal. Bandaging Matilde was not a contingency I had planned for. The temporary fix took me half an hour. Matilde was very cooperative – keeping very still, unlike her usual lively self – and I think she was still in shock from the injury. But within five minutes she had started working the bandage off, exposing the upper part of the wound.
Finally, I got hold of my usual equine vet through the alternative emergency number, and she said she could be with me in an hour or two. Meanwhile Matilde managed to push off the bandage altogether, rubbing against a fence and the flies were all over the open wound again. Washing and re-bandaging was complicated this time, as Matilde decided she did not want to play donkey patient any more, and I was slightly injured in the wrestling match.
Once the first aid had been completed for the second time, and settling in to wait for the vet, I went in search of clues to the sequence of events in the night. A whole section of fence had been destroyed, and it was clear that Matilde had got out over the fence and the wall in order to eat fallen carob beans under a tree outside the fence: they had all been eaten.
I found traces of blood on the gate posts outside the entrance to the field where Matilde had obviously been trying to get back into the field again. The sequence of events was probably something like this: Matilde forced the fence to get to the carob beans and then found it difficult to return to the field, down the wall and broken fence. She probably fell, got entangled in the fence, panicked and ripped her nose on the stone wall or fence wire. Then she went around to the end of the field and tried to force the gate open to get back in. It all probably happened in the dark, as the wound was covered in dried blood by the time I arrived at 8.30 and found Matilde eating outside the paddock.
The vet finally arrived at about midday and the surgery required was quite considerable. Something like twenty stitches. Matilde is sedated and her nose is now covered in aluminium spray. I have to give her three injections and other oral medication later, and through the week. Now I have to start the fence repairs. Goodbye relaxing Sunday afternoon… 😦
Such a relaxing life with donkeys, I used to think… Hey ho. Or is that bray ho?
Postscript 5.30 pm, last stages of a long day:
(1) Friends Flores and Carl come round to help with repairs to fence destroyed by Matilde. For their trouble, they get bitten by Morris. Thanks, Morris.
(2) Finally the fence is reinforced with wooden pallets for extra vertical rigidity, so it cannot be pushed down so easily. It is the end of a very long day, with my relaxing Sunday fried breakfast long-ago forgotten, no school preparation done for the coming week, and totally exhausted at the end of the weekend. Thanks, donkeys.
Update 9.30 pm
Just been to see the patient again in the light of the half moon. Matilde is still incredibly docile, nine hours after being sedated. But still eating, so that’s good. I gave her a good ear rub: stroking the inside of donkeys’ ears produces an effect similar to that seen on the faces of ageing hippies: a faraway spaced-out look. Maybe those hippies used to get their ears rubbed in the 1960s? Who knows?
In the Bar Cantonet I paid for the drinks for those who helped earlier with the fencing, and then I paid for the drinks of two disgraceful Welsh women who walked out of the Paradiso without paying. We Brits have to take responibility and remind locals that we have a sense of honour, despite the low-lifes who roam the area bringing shame on our nation. Some people come here and treat this country like rubbish. For the sake of a few Euros, I reminded one bartender that we are not all morons. (He refused at first and said it wasn’t my debt. I corrected him and said it very much was my debt!) These disgusting people who roam Benidorm on benefits from the UK – just existing on the next social cheque – are a boil on the arse of Britain.