As often happens, it all started with a phone call: last week one of our supporters called il Rifugio, concerned about her old neighbours' donkey. For months she hadn't seen him outside his tiny stable; she knows the donkey's still alive only because sometimes she hears him braying for loneliness and despair.
Fabrizio, our welfare officer, contacts the owner: the wife explains that her husband can not longer take care of the donkey.
Meanwhile, Fabrizio makes an inspection on site and meets Ardito, a gorgeous, big-sized 13 year old donkey, forced to live for at least one whole year in a dark barn, literally in the midst of his excrement.
We had to save Ardito and to do it fast ... so, this morning, his recovery has started.
The donkey lived in Valle Cervo, about 20 km from our Rifugio, in a farmhouse between fields and woods.
When we arrived, we couln't see Ardito: his barn was too dark... but he approached to his small window as he heard our voices.
Ardito is beautiful, we can guess it even from that stolen view across the window. Inside his eyes we can find the same feeling we had spotted in Treviso's rescues - a resignation that squeezes the heart.
We walk the road that divides us from the trailer in small steps: Ardito is no longer used to move and his hooves are in extremely poor condition. He only stops twice: first to gently snatch few blades of grass along the way, lately to bray at the sheep we meet along the way.
Ardito does not know us, but he trusts us: he follows us without hesitation, and without hesitation he gets on the trailer, where he immediately lowers his head to look for the hay and the apple pieces that we put to welcome.
We enter the isolation's gate at 10: when we open the trailer, he stands still for a minute, a bit confused. Then he jumps off, and starts to roll on earth for joy.
And how many time he has done it, in his first hour at Il Rifugio! In every corner of the huge field that will be his home for a couple of months, before leaving the isolation area; with the crisp, clean air and light, finally: although dim, it must have seemed magnificent compared to the poor filtered rays which could get into his barn.
Dirty with earth and grass, with leaves in his hair, fresh hay between teeth... if freedom was an odor, for Ardito it would smell like this.
It will be a long road to recovery: Ardito will have to gain weight (at least 30 kilos) gradually, his hooves needs to be carefully trimmed, his muscles must get used to movements again. When he will be recovered, our vet will castrate him, as all male donkeys in our Rifugio, to allow him to live together with new friends.
With your help, this gentle giant will be able to live the life that for too long have been denied.
Thank you for making it possible.