She was the second little beauty to greet me at the gate when I went to El Valle Encantado farm animal sanctuary for the first time, to help out as a volunteer a couple of weeks ago. She had arrived at the sanctuary without the ability to walk or move, and thanks to the sanctuary and the numerous natural therapies they helped her with, such as acupuncture, she is now roaming the hillsides along with all her other buddies at the sanctuary. Her disability does make her unique though, she cannot walk at the same pace as the other sheep (and sheep are very impatient), which might make a sheep lonely, but Patricia is far from lonely. From the minute we walked through the gate, and as we took hay from the hen house to the sheep’s barn, or walked across the field for whatever reason, you could always see a white spot walking slowly but surely towards you to keep you company, it was Patricia! I gazed into her kind eyes and saw no difference between her and our dear Nala who always follows us around wherever we go to keep us company.
Patricia is at the sanctuary alongside pigs, chickens, roosters, guinea pigs, a rabbit, geese, a whole flock of sheep, dogs, cats, ducks and other birds, and three adorable burros with such distinct personalities, you’d think you suddenly walked into a three human household.
If there’s something I learned by spending time with them, it’s that no two animals are alike. Some of the sheep love attention and want you to focus solely on them, others prefer not to be touched but still stay close and follow you (they’re a super curious lot!). The youngest of the sheep, Dario, had a slight obsession with a little rubber seal on my rubber boots and kept trying to bite it off when I was busy doing something else. Boli, a pig, reminded me of my grandpa when he was grumpy and hungry. Apparently he’s a huge sucker for acorns and can’t get enough! He walks around to the beat of his own drum and gives you a grumpy stare and loudly complains when you want him to move because you’re hauling hay in his direction.
The chickens apparently have a whole social system going on and some have issues with each other, sometimes they gang up on the roosters and are very mischievous. The geese, adorably named after the five human values in Sanskrit, have possibly the biggest personalities of all. They’re always together and always seem to “have a plan”, they’re naughty, beautiful, territorial and now free from being force fed and severely abused by the foie gras industry.
I can’t skip over the burros for they are magnificent creatures. The sanctuary currently brings refuge to three. The oldest, and the one my heart stayed with on that day, Federica, loves cuddles so much she kept pushing me back with her nose when I stopped (the inside of her ears was her favorite spot, her soft nose was mine). Then we have the beautiful mother and son burros, with whom there is a sad and yet inspiring story. Dani, the baby, had a serious infection in one of his legs and had to undergo an amputation. Leave it to his caregivers to try (and succeed) to give him the best life possible by making a prosthetic leg just to suit his growing needs. He now jumps, runs, and tries to hug his caregivers as often as he can (not kidding! I mean standing on two legs with the two front legs around the person!), something they’re trying to wean him off of because he’s getting bigger and bigger by the day! The relationship between the three of them is truly special. Federica, is so incredibly smart, she has learned to open windows to eat extra hay, and a few days ago managed to actually open a lock that had a key attached, move the metal bar holding the gate closed and walk outside as if nobody would notice the smart burro in her brown winter coat.
Dani is the resident James Dean as you see in the photo below… all he needs is a convertible.
I spent an ubber special moment with the dogs and cats, at one time having seven dogs on top of me asking for more and more affection. Some had eyes missing, some had serious health problems including epilepsy and motor difficulties. One of them, a tiny chihuahua named Alfombrita (little rug) had no use of her back legs and still wouldn’t hesitate to greet you at the door by pushing herself around with her two front legs and moving along with the pack, as if nothing were different. Her presence touched me greatly because sadly, the day I met her was her last day on this planet, as she passed during the night due to her age and ailments. I’m so thankful I got to meet her fighting spirit, if only for one day.
The dogs and cats are not in cages or closed spaces as they are in any run of the mill rescue shelter. Sanctuaries offer permanent life care after all. They all live inside, with their humans, and have giant sofas they love cuddling up in together. When I sat in one for a moment and had all of those beautiful doggies wagging their little tails and asking for a scratch on the back, I was in absolute bliss.
After spending the day with them, there was no doubt in my mind that they are in the best place they can be. They are so well cared for that it allows them to relax and be their own selves, show their own distinct personalities, likes and dislikes. They make friends and prefer ones to others, just as dogs do, just as humans do. They are different to most of us in one respect though, most of them were under the awful care of humans that view animals as objects, and all of them escaped horrific conditions, where they were underfed or starved, attacked, mistreated, tortured and where they would eventually face a gruesome death as so many others do each day. These were the lucky ones. What would we do without farm sanctuaries like these? I met so many happy lives saved, and each one of them was completely different and unique. It would be incorrect to say I remember the “flock of sheep” at farm sanctuary, or the group of burros, when in fact I remember Patricia, Mansita, Federica, Dani…
I’m so thrilled to share with you that I of course jumped on board when Esperanza, the owner, vet and main caregiver of the animals asked me to help with spreading the message of the sanctuary with the hopes of getting funds for the animals’ medical and food expenses, and of course, spreading the message of veganism so that with every passing year, fewer animals are bred just to be harmed and killed for our tastebuds. This is why a great gal and fellow volunteer Mercedes and I are managing the sanctuary’s Facebook page in English, with the hopes of reaching other countries with the awesome work that they do.
This is why, besides sharing this incredible experience, I need to round up all my awesome followers, readers, family and friends, whether you’re fully vegan, on the way there, considering it, or simply an animal lover, to join the flock! Which is another way of saying “Like” our Facebook page! We’ll be sharing photos and stories from the sanctuary, inspiring quotes you can share, delicious recipes, news from around the world and lots of interesting goodies. I hope you enjoy the content we’re preparing and I thank you in advance for joining us in helping these beautiful animals. I don’t know a single person who would not be touched by meeting these cutie pies as much as I was.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
– The simplest and super HUGE way to help us is by liking our Facebook page.
You can also help the sanctuary financially in any way that you can starting from just 1€ a month or as much as you wish to give (as well as one time donations):
-To become a sanctuary partner email us at: email@example.com
-To become a foster parent and sponsor one of our resident animals write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
– If you want to save lives for just 1€ a month:https://www.teaming.net/elvalleencantado-posadaanimal
The animals thank you, and we thank you! Thanks in advance for being as supportive and awesome as you always are… let’s show these beauties some love shall we? I’ll see you on facebook!
All photos of the animals showcased on this post are of sole ownership of El Valle Encantado.