Maisie's moment to shine

​Photo courtesy of Bohdan Warchomij

SHE won the hearts of many in the recent pet photo competition run by Shire of Mundaring and now Maisie, a dashing eight-year-old donkey, has been crowned 'Star of the Shire' for 2018.

The contest, run via Facebook in December 2017, encouraged animal enthusiasts to submit photos of their furry and feathered friends online. After an overwhelming response was received, eight finalists were put to a public vote to decide which pet would take out the coveted title.

Maisie received 85 votes, beating top dogs, cool cats, show ponies and high-flying birds to win a free, professional photoshoot with photographer Bohdan Warchomij, which took place on Thursday 11 January at owner Liz Appelt's Chidlow property.

Liz, a hills resident of many years and founder of the Chidlow Marsupial Hospital (CMH), said that after five years with Maisie she'd managed to tame some of her cheeky ways.

"She was three when I got her…so she was fully grown but still unhandled. She's done quite a bit of learning since we've had her…I do ride her now and she's been broken-in and everything," said Liz.

When asked about Maisie's temperament Liz confessed that despite being very intelligent she liked to get into mischief.

"She has been called, in the donkey society, "The Naughty Maisie", but she's definitely maturing a bit now and behaving.

"She's very happy, what can I say? A bit cheeky, a bit mischievous. Wilfull!"

Standing in Maisie's paddock, using carrots to entice her to pose for the camera, Liz, who is an experienced veterinary nurse, dispelled some common myths about donkeys.

"A lot of people think they're stubborn but they're not stubborn, they're totally the opposite. They're intelligent – more intelligent than horses in the fact that if they do see something that puzzles them, they won't run like a horse will, they'll go and suss it out," she said.

Liz pointed to the electric fence around Maisie's paddock as a prime example.

"The wire is electric because she is naughty – she will get out…She'll touch it with her whiskers to check whether it's on or not. She won't just get a shock and not go near it again, she'll check it each time to make sure it's on."

As for donkeys' supposed stubbornness, Liz explained it is largely self-defence.

"Donkeys stand their ground because they haven't got the speed to run away from a predator - they will put their boots in and, I tell you what, a kick from a donkey is quite nasty, they're very quick!"

Liz's neighbour and friend of many years Hannah Silversides was also on hand to help guide Maisie's photoshoot. A veterinary nurse and donkey-owner in her own right (often riding her donkey Molly with Liz and Maisie), Hannah explained that the animals love to eat.

"The main issue with donkeys is overeating. They need large quantities of very poor-quality roughage, that's their background. They come from desert-type conditions so where horses need lots of lush grass and nice hay and concentrates, donkeys actually don't and we just feed them barley straw and that's it," said Hannah.

After a morning of posing for the camera in her paddock and surrounding bushland, the ever-curious Maisie was led by Liz back to her enclosure.

It was clear in Liz's ease with Maisie that caring for animals is her joy and passion.

"I've been a wildlife carer for probably close on 35 years," said Liz.

"Here I mainly deal with marsupials but I'll take anything in, in an emergency, and then pass it onto appropriate people. You can only set yourself up for a certain amount. I've never worked with a big group, I've always just done it on my own."

As part of her prize, Liz will receive two canvas portraits of Maisie to hang on her wall and Maisie will be featured on Shire of Mundaring's website over January and February 2018.

"Congratulations to the Shire because the competition was such a lovely lot of fun. The whole lot was 'good feeling' wasn't it? It was just nice to see everybody involved," said Liz.

Thank you to everyone who entered and voted in the 2018 'Star of the Shire' competition. The competition has closed however all entries can still be viewed on the Shire of Mundaring Facebook page @ShireOfMundaring. 

Maisie and owner Liz Appelt, photo courtesy of Bohdan Warchomij.

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