Meet Shocks and Amber, the best friends who have overcome incredible odds and helped each other through the toughest of times.

Born prematurely, Amber Austwick underwent an emergency tracheostomy when she was born. Unfortunately the surgery, which involved sticking a tube down her throat to open her windpipe, stopped oxygen supply to her vocal chords leaving her unable to speak.

Meanwhile, over in Ireland, Shocks the donkey was found tethered in a field, where he was covered in cuts and lesions. Distressingly, someone had poured bleach over his wounds in a misguided attempt to heal them.

Shocks was sent to The Donkey Sanctuary in Brimingham, where he made a full recovery. It was there he first met Amber in 2013.


Amber, who also suffers from cerebral palsy, was completely mute at the time and became Shocks' first patient. He was her one and only therapy animal.

Posted by Amber's Donkey on Thursday, 2 February 2017

Amber's father Julian Austwick told The Dodo: "Shocks would lower his head to her and would allow her to hold him around his neck. It was scary for us, as parents, as he was so big compared to little Amber, but they really seemed smitten!"


Posted by Amber's Donkey on Thursday, 23 February 2017

Amber met Shocks when she was two, still unable to speak and finding movement difficult. He allowed her to build her strength and she was eventually able to ride him.

Posted by Amber's Donkey on Friday, 5 August 2016

When Amber turned three she underwent surgery that allowed her to speak, although it was still a struggle. She still had not spoken a word when one day, at the end of her session with Shocks, she hugged him and said "I love you, Shocky."

Austwick said that they were over the moon to hear their daughter speak. "It was such a proud moment and of course a massive relief."

Amber is at school now and doing very well yet she has not forgotten Shocks. She still visits him for grooming and cuddle time.

Posted by Amber's Donkey on Sunday, 11 September 2016

Despite both having a rough start in life now Amber and Shocks are going strong.

As Austwick says: "I'd say they healed each other."