The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Psychology Today

Cathy is a donkey, not a woman!

“So you’re unlikely to hear about her on the evening news.
But the underlying principles are pretty similar.The next time you experience relationship conflict, think about Cathy’s Tale and all the people and animals in need of better communication.”

Recently Kim Hayes, The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada’s (DSC) Operations Manager, spoke with Hank Davis, Professor of Psychology and writer for Psychology Today, about donkeys and their unique needs.

Hank had come for a visit to the DSC, and, as Kim describes it, “was struck by how easy it is to make assumptions about donkey behaviour based on other reference points such as relationships with people and other animals – often to the detriment of both parties”.  Kim shared with Hank the story of Apollo (referred to as “Cathy” in the story), in particular, and the result of their conversation – and his observations – in an article published online at Psychology Today.


The article starts, “It was not a good relationship.  Cathy was withdrawn and stoic.  Ed felt thwarted.  There was a lot of work to be done on the farm and Ed new exactly what he needed from Cathy.  That’s why he had brought her there.  But Cathy was resistant almost from the start.  She was noncompliant and stubborn.  Ed couldn’t understand why he wasnt’ getting through to her.  They just could not communicate.

Why was this happening? Ed thought she’d be happy to do this work. Didn’t it come naturally to her? Anyway, wasn’t Cathy his? Wasn’t he entitled to tell her what to do? Didn’t everybody understand that?

Ed saw the authorities drive onto his property as he raised the metal rod. But he had been frustrated too long to stop. No longer able to control himself, he brought the rod down on Cathy.

Let’s stop for a second.

What kind of images are you getting as you read this story? Admittedly, these are horrible events no matter how you’re picturing Cathy. It doesn’t really get any better if she has four legs and a tail. The point here, as I hope to demonstrate, is that miscommunication, frustration and violence can afflict any relationship, whether it involves humans, animals or both.”

The entire article can be read here:

During this hectic time of holidays, gift giving and entertaining, a visit to The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph, Ontario promises to restore serenity and appreciation for all things good in the world. 

They are open four Sundays in December from 10am – 4pm (Dec 2nd, 9th, 16th & 23rd).  However, the Sanctuary is closed during winter storms, so check the  website for details or call 519-448-3081.

There will be Donkey Talks held three times a day (11:30am, 1:00pm and 2:30pm) on every Open Day, which are lively dialogues meant to acquaint visitors with the inner workings of the Sanctuary, along with some of the many stories about the animals in their care and the lives they have lived.  The Learning Centre has interactive displays, developed so that everyone can better understand donkeys, mules, hinnies and the natural world in which they live.

Compassion and respect for people, animals and the rest of the natural world are vital, as is the recognition of the interdependence of all living things.  A visit to the Sanctuary encourages visitors of all ages, either singly or in groups, to appreciate these principles firsthand.

So come and warm yourself with some hot chocolate, learn about donkeys and The Donkey Sanctuary, and where you can sign the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s petition in support of Bill C-322 to end equine slaughter.


  1. Good article.

  2. “Compassion and respect for people, animals and the rest of the natural world are vital, as is the recognition of the interdependence of all living things.”
    How appropriate for this month – November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month.
    It always comes down to lack of understanding and communication.
    Thank you DSC for your love and respect of the donkey and for your support of Bill C-322!

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