Welcome Patty (II)

Normally, we don't have two animals with the same name at the sanctuary. When an animal arrives with a name and seems to know that name, we certainly make exceptions.

Such is the case with Patty the cow. She should be very honored because her namesake, Patty the Pig, is the best pig ever.

Patty is 8-10 years of age. She first lived on a dairy farm but had trouble with pregnancy. This is generally a death sentence for dairy cows whose only worth is how many babies they birth and how much milk they produce. A veterinary teaching hospital ran some medical tests on Patty and determined she'd make a good blood donor cow.

Yes, they use other cows to provide blood to client animals. Summer may have received some of Patty's blood when he arrived at the hospital six months ago. She was used in this manner for six years. Recently, she got sick of it, the poking and prodding was too much and she wanted out of the blood donor business. Normally, an unruly donor cow would be sent to auction and slaughter....but as with most rescues, Patty had an advocate to champion her cause. A veterinarian who had fallen in love with the gentle cow worked tirelessly to save her life and that of two other donor cows (who have adoptive homes, yay). The teaching hospital acquiesced and, after months of cutting through red tape, Patty finally arrived home.

We let in Nicholas to keep her company and this calmed Patty down immediately. She's lived with other cows, so we couldn't possibly leave her by herself - cattle are incredibly gregarious, a lone cow is generally a stressed out, unhappy one.We'll keep her in this pasture, with Nick as company, for several days. This will help her identify the barnyard as "home base".

It's been interesting - the past two cows, Elsa and now Patty, have both been around people a lot. Elsa spent fifteen years being milked and handled by humans of all ages. When we asked if she liked people, the response was an immediate Yes! But it turns out Elsa didn't really like all of the handling she endured. It's more than just the novelty of new surroundings - Elsa now has choices. She can choose to approach us or choose to walk away from us. If she wants to let me scratch her neck, that's her choice. If she doesn't, she moves away. She chooses where she grazes (tragically far enough away that staff have to hike up hills to check on her every day). All these choices! Patty's experience has probably been even less positive with people, so it isn't surprising that she decides to keep her distance. I did scratch her neck, long upward strokes to simulate a cow's tongue, and she lowered her head contentedly. But mostly, she just wants to be left alone.

It's so nice to watch animals get the opportunity to think for themselves, make their own decisions!