“Hurry up” yelled John as I feverishly flicked my litter all over the room, “Its 9.30 already and the sun is shining so the world and his dog will be on the roads”. He knows I need to go to the bathroom before a trip in the car so I glanced curtly in his direction before trotting to the hallway mirror to check my fur. My whiskers needed a quick lick before springing proudly outwards and I was ready for our day out at the Raystede Centre in Ringmer (East Sussex). The Centre started caring for animals 60 years ago and provides sanctuary to a whole host of creatures including goats, horses, turkeys, ducks, geese, tortoises and terrapins.
I was looking forward to seeing the donkeys because of their delightfully large ears and characteristic ‘eee-awe’ which can apparently be heard up to 2 miles away. I have a lot of respect for donkeys who have been used as working animals by humans for thousands of years, often being abused and neglected while they carry heavy loads for people across the world. Lizzy and Dolly are 18 and 12 years old respectively and were living in a field near Brighton when their owner died and they had no one left to care for them. The keepers told me that donkeys are bright animals and take time to assess what they are being asked to do before agreeing to it which has unfairly led to them being labelled as stubborn. They form strong bonds with their human and equine companions and (like horses) should be kept in pairs or herds, never alone. They are not waterproof and need adequate shelter to protect them from the elements as well a visit from the farrier on a regular basis.
The alpacas live in the fields with the horses during the day and are cleverly left to roam the secured sanctuary at night to protect the birds and wildlife from foxes by braying as an alarm call, kicking and even spitting at any potential predators. They looked rather hoity-toity and wouldn’t stay still for the camera so John and I moved swiftly on to the waterfowl haven. We knew where it was before we got there due to the great cacophony of noise that was coming from the flocks of ducks and geese honking and quacking around the lake. As we strolled along the footpath near the water’s edge, a greylag goose walked past that was taller than me. For some reason John thought the sight of my behind swaying as I swaggered alongside a goose waddling was quite amusing. The cheek!
There were no cats visible in the cat pens even though they were occupied and I expect the moggies were not in the mood to be gawped at. You know how particular pussy-cats can be! But I did see a picture of a fluffy black and white called Branson with a fetching beauty spot on his nose. He was found abandoned in a suitcase outside a shop in Eastbourne, traumatised but thankfully unharmed. With this kind of past, it’s no surprise that cats like Branson can be a bit shy, but given a bit of time and space they blossom into little cherubs. Unlike this little tyke in the picture, a hyperactive white terrier type schnauzer-cross called Edwina who needs a home with experienced owners to manage her high-energy outlook on life. Bruno the chocolate Labrador was a handsome boy and much more laid back than the crazy yapper.
We continued around the Centre and came across the rabbit run which included a rather creative demonstration of what a garden for a rabbit should look like. Next to each other were 2 plots. One was a boring bare patch of grass with a small hutch at the end where a sad rabbit might live. The other was called Home Sweet Home and was an interesting space filled with grass and earth, shrubs and leafy plants, bits of wood and a decent sized hutch